As a Product Manager, I often discuss connectivity challenges with organizations and advise them on how to use Kepware solutions to gather machine data to uncover operational efficiencies. With the business value of the Internet of Things (IoT) established and recognized, I speak with more and more organizations that are evaluating how to implement IoT initiatives to improve factory performance and stay competitive in today’s global market.
One of the biggest hurdles these organizations must overcome is connectivity. Factory floors often house equipment that may have been installed ten, twenty or even thirty years ago. These industrial assets were built to last, but they lack the internet-based connectivity required to integrate with today’s modern machines. With promised benefits of increased visibility, uptime and profitability, asset integration is a challenge that must be resolved to build an IoT ecosystem.
KEPServerEX® version 6.4 expands interoperability with a new MQTT Client driver, enhanced system functionality, and new performance features.
As with every KEPServerEX release, our developers spent a lot of time figuring out what users need and how to build solutions that meet those needs today—and into the future. For this product release blog post, we're showcasing the strategic development behind the functionality.
We talked to three Kepware software professionals about what they worked on and their goals for this release. Watch the videos below to learn about how the teams at PTC Kepware created KEPServerEX version 6.4 to optimize your industrial automation and help you overcome data connectivity challenges.
We look at many different factors when planning a KEPServerEX release. As we develop our product roadmap and decide how to enhance and update KEPServerEX, it all comes back to one question: What do users need?
The answer this time was “customization and control.” KEPServerEX version 6.3 includes new enhancements and drivers that were designed to give you flexibility in how you connect industrial assets to critical applications—regardless of device type and location. KEPServerEX version 6.3 gives you more customization options for time syncing, complete remote management and configuration control of all remote KEPServerEX instances, and streamlined control over your Internet of Things (IoT) projects—including configuring, deploying, and adjusting—through a single user interface.
There are a lot of marketing buzzwords surrounding the Internet of Things (IoT) these days. Enough to dilute the true purpose of the IoT and cause disillusionment for people curious about its real advantages. Many of the endless streams of articles, conferences, and journals focused on the IoT are actually useful and enlightening—but the quality of IoT content as a whole has been impaired by companies stuffing IoT-related buzzwords into every possible phrase to try to increase their search engine ranking.
Wouldn't you like to see more substance behind all that IoT marketing fluff? Wouldn't you like to know why IoT is truly different, effective, and revolutionary? Wouldn't it be great if every IoT article came with a jargon decoder that told you if the IoT in reference was related to IoT concepts in general, or consumer products, or the manufacturing industry, or smart cities, or home automation, or artificial intelligence, and so on?
Well, I wish I could do all that for you in a few paragraphs on this blog post, but I can't. What I can do is give you the three tips that work for me when I’m trying to cut through the hype.
A PLC is unexpectedly offline, but the controls engineer doesn't know about it—and once informed, cannot easily trace its root cause. A plant line is under performing, but the plant manager doesn't have any visibility into the factory lines to understand why—or how performance can be improved. A machine is out of its normal operating range, but the maintenance team doesn’t know the status of the anomaly—or what level of maintenance is needed to fix it.
If you work on a factory floor, chances are that one—or all—of those scenarios sound familiar. Everyone recognizes the problems caused by latent data and low visibility into plant floor assets, but there hasn't been a simple solution to address these unique challenges—until now.
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.
On April 8, KEPServerEX® version 6.1 hit the market—with updates and features built to meet your evolving industrial connectivity needs. Today’s release of KEPServerEX version 6.2 furthers these enhancements with new functionality for the CODESYS Ethernet driver, a new TIA Portal Exporter utility, Configuration API support for the EFM Exporter, improved interoperability with the ThingWorx® IoT Platform, and updates to more than 19 other server components, drivers, and advanced plug-ins.
Version 6.2 broadens the already expansive portfolio of devices to which KEPServerEX can connect—and provides new tools so that connecting those devices to diverse applications is easier and quicker than ever before. You can learn about version 6.2's key features below; for more in-depth information please attend the "KEPServerEX Version 6.2 Release Webinar" on June 14 at 10:00 AM EDT.
With its abundance of remote assets, complex interconnectivity across SCADA devices, and focus on safe and efficient processes, today’s Energy Industry is well-positioned to take advantage of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
But despite the potential benefits, concerns with IIoT solutions' implementation, cost, and reliability still remain. In his new whitepaper, PTC’s Stephen Sponseller explores the challenges of the IIoT for the Energy Industry—and how edge computing solutions are helping fill in the gaps.
Read the excerpt below for a preview, and download the full whitepaper for an in-depth look at how edge devices are contributing to improved decision-making, increased safety, and lowered costs across the Energy Industry.
I am excited to announce the release of KEPServerEX® Version 6.1! This release builds on the usability and performance enhancements of Version 6, while strengthening the industrial connectivity platform’s core functionalities and enabling further device connectivity across the plant floor.
Version 6.1 includes new OPC UA Client driver enhancements, additional Configuration API capabilities, streamlined ThingWorx® and KEPServerEX integration, and two new solutions: a Siemens Plus Suite that incorporates Siemens-approved OPC UA functionality and a new driver supporting CODESYS Version 2.3 connectivity. These enhancements were designed to help bridge the gap between Operations and IT, for seamless enterprise-wide operational intelligence and optimized Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) connectivity.
On February 24, I presented "Collecting Industrial IoT Sensor Data through the KEPServerEX® User-Configurable Driver," a live webinar on how the User Configurable (U-CON) driver for KEPServerEX can help optimize the new breed of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) smart sensors. Attendees sent in great questions and comments throughout the webinar, but due to time constraints I couldn't answer every question asked.
The Q&A pairs below address the topics I didn't have time for during the webinar. I hope that this background information on the U-CON driver will give you the confidence and enthusiasm to explore how it can optimize your smart manufacturing tools.