Last month, I presented a one-hour webinar on the industrial Internet of Things (IoT). After describing what the industrial IoT means to Kepware, I explored three real-world use cases by Kepware customers:
- Industrial data over web services for manufacturing execution
- Mobile and web interfaces for manufacturing systems
- Industrial data for Cloud and Big Data systems
These use cases demonstrate how real-world companies are solving their industrial connectivity challenges and improving traceability, visibility, and product quality with industrial IoT solutions. But with so much to cover during the webinar, I didn't have time to answer each question that was asked. With topics spanning everything from IoT Gateway agent features to data buffering and vendor-specific connectivity, I thought it would be helpful to re-visit and share them.
Last week, I described several challenges that SCADA engineers face while determining a remote data acquisition schedule. I also shared the top seven features that our market research identified as helping to resolve those issues. Today, I'm happy to introduce Kepware’s new Scheduler Plug-In for KEPServerEX, which allows our industry-leading communications platform to take on the role of a dedicated polling engine. We’ve designed the Scheduler’s UI with the same clean, minimalist look and feel that users expect from Kepware products. This means we paid attention to reducing mouse clicks and creating intuitive and tidy organizational structures, wizard-driven configuration for more complex features, and a workflow design that is consistent with all of the other tools that you’re used to using within KEPServerEX.
For folks out there in SCADA engineering, whether fresh data is arriving on your control screens or not is particularly important. In certain environments (like high-speed manufacturing systems), the decision process around what data to read when and at what frequency sometimes can be as simple as determining the fastest rate of change of your most frequently changing data point—and then designing your control system to request all of your data at least twice as fast as this rate. Yes, it is extremely nice to have dedicated, fast data pipes for all of your important process data. But for SCADA engineers in environments where devices potentially exist hundreds of miles away from a central SCADA operations center, running dedicated cabling to these locations is cost prohibitive if not logistically impossible. This means that to connect to equipment, an organization is often using leased and shared Ethernet or telephone lines or utilizing wireless data transfer technologies like radio, cellular, and microwave. These transfer mediums don’t usually offer anywhere near the performance that you’d need for a one-size-fits-all style of data collection frequency.
When discussing optimized automation systems, network communications are a common concern because of their significant complexity. Luckily, KEPServerEX has a number of tools available that make difficult optimizations easy to implement. In the first of a series of posts on project optimization, I will outline the optimization tools available to just one of the elements of a KEPServerEX project: the channel.
There’s no doubt about it: modern automation systems are capable of generating more data than ever before. When you live in a time where even a single PLC can contain millions of individual data points, you’ve certainly asked yourself the question, “How can I make all of this data work for me?” Indeed, gaining access to this data, bringing it into a SCADA, MES, or DCS system, and giving it context can increase efficiency and reduce operating costs. But before you can make the data work for you, you’ve got to figure out how to get access to it. One excellent way to do so is through industry-standard OPC specifications and Kepware’s ClientAce.