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Smart Manufacturing with KEPServerEX: Industrial Connectivity from the Plant Floor to the Top Floor

Posted by Cam Dufty

Today’s manufacturing plant floor has inherent automation and connectivity challenges. Real-time production control and data analysis requires seamless connectivity across the enterprise—but disparate machinery, devices, and applications can’t always communicate effectively (or at all). Valuable information can be lost in this connectivity gap—at the cost of safety, productivity, efficiency, and profitability.


IoT Alphabet Soup

Posted by Candace Letizia

Seven years ago, I started working as a Technical Writer for Kepware. I brought grammar and technical writing knowledge and authoring software expertise to my role, and thought I was ready to dive into our library of product manuals. Little did I know exactly how long it would take me to learn the abbreviations commonly used within our different vertical industries. Understanding the different terms for systems, networks, and processes was one thing; mastering the different protocols—and discerning when to use one over another—was entirely different.

With the help of patient colleagues, technical resources, and time, I was able to create a foundation of knowledge that continues to expand today. As industry turns its attention toward the Internet of Things and Industrie 4.0, the abbreviations and definitions added to our language (and my Kepware dictionary) multiplies.


IoT Sparks Questions and Conversation at HANNOVER MESSE 2015

Posted by Tucker Emerson

HANNOVER MESSE 2015 took place in Hannover, Germany from April 13 to 17 this year and can be described in one word: massive. From the size of the facilities to the number of people in attendance to the special guests—everything was massive. Each year, Deutsch Messe AG hosts one of the world’s biggest industrial fairs, and a few hundred thousand people attend to see exhibitors from all over the world and all walks of industry. With exhibits ranging from dancing robots to mini windfarms—and speakers including Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel and Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi—it is hard to find another show of its magnitude anywhere.


How Big Data Can Benefit Upstream Oil & Gas Companies

Posted by Steve Sponseller

What’s the saying? One of the keys to success is seeing challenges as opportunities? Practically overnight, the upstream Oil & Gas Industry has faced the challenge of having the value of their product roughly cut in half. Not only are they dealing with less revenue coming in, but their company valuation took a hit too.


Tips for Troubleshooting Your Communication Issues with Wireshark

Posted by Ray Labbe

Communication issues within industrial or information technology networks are some of the hardest to troubleshoot and isolate in any industry. Even a simple network has a variety of potential failure points. Are packets getting dropped by a router? Is a device unresponsive because of too many requests? Is the device configuration incorrect and preventing the proper establishment of communications? Luckly, there are a variety of tools and techniques available to help isolate the root of these issues. One of the more powerful tools available is an application called Wireshark.


Let Operations Drive Server Architecture

Posted by John Harrington

Many people ask, "What is the optimal architecture for KEPServerEX within a plant; how many servers and where?" As with most questions of this nature, the short answer is that it depends, but there is some guidance we can provide.


Havex Targets OPC

Posted by Aron Semle

You may have heard of the new malware on the street targeting Industrial Control Systems called Havex. It isn't the first malware to target our industry (Stuxnet), but there are two things that make it interesting.

First, its primary attack vector is vendor installers. The folks behind Havex compromise vendors’ websites and add “bad” code to the vendor installer (“mbcheck.dll” and “mbcheck.exe”). Customers download the installer and become instantly infected. The Trojan calls to command and control servers, which are really just compromised websites (like blogs). From there, the hackers have free reign to push bad code down to the machine.


Business Intelligence through Network Collaboration

Posted by Erik Dellinger

One of the challenges we see today that goes beyond technology is the convergence of Automation/Control and Information Technology (IT) systems and departments. Automation professionals want and need a hardened system. The systems they manage can and do run 24/7 without any major changes. If the IT department makes a decision to push down the latest anti-virus software, install the latest patches from an operating system update, or even something more significant like install a new operating system, production at a manufacturing facility could be taken offline for minutes to weeks. There is the potential when making IT system changes to make automation systems unusable. On the other hand, IT professionals must ensure all the equipment and networks are secure and vulnerabilities are managed. The business systems that reside on these networks are better understood by the IT team and are not as likely to produce the same significant loss in operations if they are down for a short period of time while changes are made or the system is recovered.


Next Generation Monitoring with SNMP and OPC

Posted by Erik Dellinger

Today’s automation engineer has the critical job of monitoring PLCs and different devices on the plant floor. But what happens when there is an issue with the IT infrastructure that interconnects these devices? What if a port on a switch goes down? At that point, there’s unfortunately not much that the automation engineer can do except contact the enterprise IT department. That’s their domain.