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.
Kepware Product Manager Tom Gaudet walked through all the release updates in the “KEPServerEX Version 6.3 Release Webinar,” which you can watch on the Kepware YouTube channel. I’ve outlined the major updates, features, and new driver details below—please read through for more information, and as always, don’t hesitate to download a free demo to discover for yourself how KEPServerEX can help you customize and optimize your industrial data connectivity.
Enhanced Functionality for the Configuration API
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Since the release of KEPServerEX Version 6 last November, the Configuration API feature has been enabling users to make programmatic project changes via third-party applications. With KEPServerEX version 6.3, we’ve updated the Configuration API to include remote bulk change capabilities—enabling much faster changes on large projects.
Users can also now remotely iterate through all levels of a KEPServerEX project. Every object of a remote project—such as the channel, device, tag group, tag, and so on—no longer needs to be individually queried, created, and changed.
With this enhanced Create, Read, Update, and Delete (CRUD) functionality for the Configuration API, users can now:
- Load a full project from a mapped file directory
- Remotely trigger a project save
- Create an object with a child hierarchy in a single transaction
- Create multiple objects in a single transaction
These updates save time, programming effort, and transactions within the remote project.
Now that multiple objects can be created in a single transaction, a transaction can be partially successful. This means that if any part of a multiple object transaction fails, all of the successful transactions will still go through and an error message will be returned indicating the line number of the failure in the associated code.
Automatic Tag Generation (ATG) is also now supported by the Configuration API. Many KEPServerEX drivers include the ATG feature, which enables users to generate tags by communicating directly with the controller or by consuming a list of tags from a file. Until now, this functionality was only available through direct interactions with the KEPServerEX configuration tool. With the addition of this remote ATG trigger service, users can now initiate ATG through a simple service call at the device level.
Remote Project Loading with the ThingWorx® IoT Platform
With KEPServerEX version 6.3, users can easily adjust network settings and deploy KEPServerEX projects remotely—while managing all of their machine instances from a single ThingWorx platform interface.
ThingWorx and KEPServerEX users have long been able to view KEPServerEX configuration data (such as channels, devices, and tags) from their ThingWorx platform. However, users could not edit the configuration from the ThingWorx platform—they could only edit the configuration on the machine where KEPServerEX was installed. This was cumbersome and time-consuming work, especially when machines were in remote locations.
KEPServerEX version 6.3 enables users to import a KEPServerEX project from a local file store and remotely load the project to any instance of KEPServerEX. Once the file has been transferred, the new project is automatically loaded into the runtime. When used in conjunction with the KEPServerEX version 6.3 Configuration API enhancements outlined above, this remote project loading functionality gives users the power to completely control the configuration and management of all their remote KEPServerEX instances.
Time Sync Functionality for Drivers with EFM Capabilities
The EFM Exporter is an advanced plug-in for KEPServerEX that enables users to query Electronic Flow Measurement (EFM) devices for historical records stored on the device. Time syncing is a vital part of this process—it enables users to reset the device time to ensure it matches the system time. If left unchecked, device time can drift significantly from system time.
Before KEPServerEX version 6.3, time synchronization would occur as scheduled any time there was a difference between the device time and system time. This led to frequent time synchronization—and because every time synchronization required human intervention, it cost users significant time and added work.
KEPServerEX version 6.3 drivers with EFM capabilities now include a time sync threshold. Users can set a custom threshold to ensure no synchronization occurs unless a specific deviation limit is exceeded. Version 6.3 also includes OnPoll, which enables users to configure time synchronization to occur only after an EFM poll.
With the OnPoll and custom threshold capabilities, EFM Exporter users have reduced network traffic, can easily control when a time synchronization occurs, and don't need to personally intervene in time syncs or open up additional communications with the device.
New Keyence KV Ethernet Driver
KEYENCE is a manufacturer of PLCs and other peripheral devices used in the Manufacturing Industry. KEYENCE PLCs are especially popular in Japan, and the new Keyence KV Ethernet driver included in KEPServerEX version 6.3 is part of Kepware's ongoing efforts to expand our device connectivity—with a special focus on increasing accessibility for global users.
The new Keyence KV Ethernet driver is localized in Japanese and connects to KEYENCE KV series PLCs with the same stability and ease of configuration inherent to all Kepware products.
Watch the “KEPServerEX Version 6.3 Release Webinar” to see a recorded-live demonstration of all the features, enhancements, and updates available in this release. Download a free trial of version 6.3 to explore the updates for yourself, and please leave a comment below if you have any questions or suggestions.