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OPC Foundation

Top Six Benefits of OPC UA for End-Users

Thomas Burke, president and executive director of the OPC Foundation, discusses why end-users are discovering the benefits of an OPC UA solution, including reliability, performance, multi-platform support and easy migration.

Welcome to the August 2009 edition of OPConnect, the official newsletter of the OPC Foundation. There have been a lot of things happening in 2009, and it’s been very exciting with respect to OPC Foundation and the OPC vendor community.

One of the most significant things is the recognition by the end-users of the value proposition for the OPC Unified Architecture (UA) technology.

There are six key features that OPC UA delivers to the end-users: The ease-of-use, plug-and-play, high reliability and redundancy, enhanced performance, multiplatform support, and easy migration plan for existing OPC products to the OPC UA technology.

That last feature–easy migration plan–is critical to its success. Even though OPC UA is a revolutionary new architecture, it still provides a rock-solid evolutionary migration mechanism to allow existing OPC products to plug in and get many of the benefits of the OPC UA technology… Read more



OPC UA Interoperability Proves Worth For Pharma

Gary Mintchell, Editor in Chief, Automation World, discusses one of the key features of OPC UA technology–interoperability–and the promise this holds to significantly reduce integration costs across complex systems.

Integrating various components of an automation system can cost up to ten times the price of just the components, depending upon the complexity of the system. This fact alone can destroy the benefits of an integrated system. The latest specification from the OPC Foundation–OPC UA–holds the potential of greatly reducing this cost penalty. All we need is for more suppliers to adopt the specification and make it available to those charged with implementing an integrated automation system… Read more


OPC Server Meets Demand for 64-Bit Systems

New OPC server suites from Cyberlogic have 64-bit kernel mode device drivers, so users can deploy 64-bit systems regardless of the type of network or network adapter.

Cyberlogic has released 64-bit versions of the company’s OPC server suites that deliver an easy migration path for users moving to x64 Windows platforms. The 64-bit versions of Cyberlogic OPC suites provide native 64-bit support, including 64-bit kernel-mode device drivers, for all x64 Windows operating systems, including XP, Vista, Server 2003, and Server 2008.

As the shift toward 64-bit systems is speeding up, there is a growing demand for the 64-bit versions of popular software tools. Complicating the picture is the fact that some of the new 64-bit systems may have to be deployed in existing environments, either as replacements or for expansion… Read more


Integrating OPC Servers and SCADA Systems

Engineers working on a high-security project in Denmark used the OPC DataHub, from Cogent Real-Time Systems, for OPC client connections between equipment at the secure facility and a remote monitoring station.

In a recent data integration project, Siemens engineers in Copenhagen, Denmark, were able to connect equipment and instrumentation running in a high-security facility to a remote monitoring location using the OPC DataHub. The goal was to allow technicians access to the machines they needed to work on, without breaching security or permitting any non-authorized personnel on site.

At first the project promised to be a typical OPC application. The main objective was to connect a chiller unit with an OPC server running at a secure facility to two SCADA systems at a monitoring station, each enabled as an OPC client. However, it soon became apparent that there would be some problems with networking. OPC networking depends on distributed component object model (DCOM), which at the best of times can be difficult to configure and slow to reconnect after a network break. To make matters worse, the OPC server provided by the chiller manufacturer was not up to the task… Read more


Process Analytics Finds Process Problems

In this whitepaper, Canary Labs outlines how companies, by using process analytical software, can gain great insight into their process operations to find problems and improve quality.

Process Analytics and Intelligence–sometimes called Manufacturing Intelligence–has transformed the way companies produce goods, understand their manufacturing processes, and ensure a quality product in ways we could not have foreseen ten years ago. Process Analytics and Intelligence can take many forms–from basic trend charts that highlight a single process variable to complex statistical analysis of multiple variables. Trending process variables allows you to go back in time and see what happened over the past minutes, hours, overnight, or over a weekend. When trend charts show that the data from the system is not typical, you can quickly determine the problem and resolve it before it becomes a major problem.

The cornerstone of any real-time Process Analytical and Intelligence solution is an effective data storage and retrieval capability. In manufacturing applications, data is generated from a multitude of sources, from devices as simple as a weigh scale to as complex as a PLC controlling a high speed bottling line… Read more


OPC Facilitates Increased Capacity

A water treatment plant in Utah doubled its capacity after deploying the System 800xA Extended Automation from ABB, which uses OPC 2.0 technology to gather and display data.

Quail Creek Water Treatment Plant (Quail Creek WTP) is part of Washington Counties’ Water Conservancy District, a political subdivision of the State of Utah. It is a regional water supply agency organized in 1962 under the Water Conservancy Act to develop a water supply for rapidly growing areas in Utah’s Washington County. The District is primarily a wholesaler of water to other agencies. The main role of the District is to develop or purchase water where it is available for its service area. The District is committed to serving its water customers in an efficient and cost-effective manner. The District serves water on a retail basis only when other local providers are not available or do not have facilities to do so. It is dedicated to development of a resource in an environmentally sound manner.

The Quail Creek Water Treatment Plant’s control system was in need of an upgrade in order to fulfill the District’s goals of efficient, cost-effective and environmentally sound operations… Read more


OPC Foundation

OPC Gets Green, Goes Nuclear and Gets Embedded

Thomas Burke, president and executive director of the OPC Foundation, discusses how OPC technology is advancing cutting-edge developments—from green energy and the world’s largest particle accelerator, to embedded intelligence and OPC UA-on-a-chip.

Welcome to the May 2010 edition of OPConnect, the official newsletter of the OPC Foundation. The year 2010 marks 15 years in the development of OPC technology. What began in 1995 as a task force to standardize on a device driver solution has morphed into the 400-member OPC Foundation, whose task it is to develop, support and maintain standards for moving data and information from embedded devices all the way through the enterprise.

OPC is “open connectivity” in industrial automation and enterprise systems based on “open standards.” These standards operate across multivendor and multiplatform systems, providing secure, reliable and interoperable communications for applications in industrial automation, building automation, energy management and more… Read more



Reaping the Wind in Real Time

The Matrikon OPC Server for Vestas Wind Turbines standardizes real-time access to wind farm data sources for improved management and control of distributed assets.

High oil prices and global warming concerns have more people looking at renewable energy sources such as wind power. Wind power installations have unique challenges due to energy variability and load balancing as well as accessibility of the many generating stations. The OPC Server for Vestas Wind Turbines can provide continuous access to real-time information needed for equipment monitoring and making production decisions… Read more


Upgrade Performance, Downsize Complexity

Softing’s OPC Development Toolkits for OPC UA assist software engineers in implementing effective OPC Clients/Servers and embedding OPC UA technology directly into target devices.

Softing, the world leader in providing conformant OPC development tools, continues to enhance its OPC Unified Architecture (UA) Toolkits for Windows, VxWorks, and Linux. The latest version of the OPC UA Toolkit comes with significant performance optimization, support of Kernel Mode in VxWorks systems, more programming support and functional extensions.

Softing’s Toolkits are currently the only products available that include all necessary OPC libraries to develop OPC Clients and Servers based on the Classic OPC DA, Alarms & Events, XML-DA, and the OPC UA specification… Read more


OPC Helps Cool World’s Largest Particle Accelerator

The OPC Top Server from Software Toolbox monitors chiller data on the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, to cool circuits when proton beams collide at seven trillion volts.

In March 2010 at the international physics laboratory of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), two proton beams collided with the energy of 7 trillion electron volts in the world’s largest and highest-energy particle accelerator known as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). CERN, which features the most technologically advanced facilities for researching the basic building blocks of the Universe, built the LHC to test predictions of high-energy physics for particle physicists to help answer some of the most fundamental questions about the basic laws governing interaction and forces concerning elementary objects, structure of time and space, quantum mechanics and relativity.

The LHC results required years of investment in engineering, science and technology. Keeping the technology working reliably requires consistent monitoring of temperature and humidity in the tunnels and experimental areas of the LHC site… Read more


OPC UA Software Opens Up Linux Possibilities

A leading integrator uses the OPC UA server included with Ignition by Inductive Automation™ to provide better performance and reliability in a distillation refinery SCADA system.

Integrator Kyle Chase has begun to experience first-hand the benefits of OPC Unified Architecture (UA). Designed to allow for cross-platform compatibility, OPC UA delivers on the promise of performance and reliability. Chase explained that, although a fan of Linux, until now he could never use it in automation control systems because OPC relied on Microsoft’s Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM).

“To me, the move to a true cross-platform environment is important,” stated Chase, systems integration specialist for Surefire SCADA Inc. “This holds many advantages, especially when it comes to system flexibility and security. It helps keep costs down as well”… Read more


OPC Foundation

Partnerships: Newest Interoperability Initiatives for Industrial Automation 
A quick look at the latest interoperability initiatives such as OPC UA and FDT 2.0, FDI and its implications for FDT, how OPC UA meshes with ODVA, PLCopen, and MTConnect.
While the last decade has been remarkable for the number of automation and control technologies introduced, another market force has produced an effect on the industry much more notable—collaboration among vendors and industry organizations.
The concept of being locked into brand loyalty where an end-user company would purchase all of its devices and applications from a single vendor and its direct partners as a means of guaranteeing that the applications and devices would work together in a seamless fashion has become completely archaic. However, it was commonplace not so long ago.» Cloud Computing and the FDT/OPC Initiative» Machinery Initiative Explained

Oil & gas blending systems benefit from OPC historian, data trending and analysis 
Canary Enterprise Historian, Canary Logger, and Trend Link software run independent of the HMI, provide graphical display of trends to optimize maintenance and performance, and synchronizes/archives daily from remote sites.The Canary software installations include the Canary Enterprise Historian, Canary Logger and Trend Link. The ability to configure the historian and logger to run as a service is extremely valuable as well as having the added benefit of running independent of the HMI connecting directly to an OPC server. Remote data logging is done at locations where two servers exist, allowing the use of a single Canary Enterprise Historian.

Randy Walker, control systems engineer, says “Canary Trend Link is a valuable tool allowing us to graphically review archived data for maintenance issues and performance. Templates can be saved of commonly reviewed trends for quick future access. The export utility is used to generate viewed trends into reports for distribution”… Read More»

Practical tips for planning redundancy in an OPC data communications network
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New white paper from Cogent Real-Time Systems provides background information and practical considerations for plant engineers and managers interested in implementing redundancy in a data communications network based on the OPC protocol.The paper defines basic redundancy concepts such as cold, warm, and hot standby, seamless and smart switchovers, fallbacks, and object and link monitoring. It also points out common design problems like the timer pitfall and forced switching, and gives useful advice on how to get the best value in a redundancy manager.“As system up-time becomes more critical to financial success, many plant engineers are looking at adding redundancy to their mission critical control systems,” said Andrew Thomas, President of Cogent. “This paper is helpful for anyone interested in getting quickly up to speed on the main issues, so that they can make informed decisions”… Read More»

Why OPC-UA will be on every automated control system in the future
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Inductive Automation makes the case for upgrading to OPC-UA now versus later, and why OPC-UA will inevitably be incorporated into control systems in the future.OPC-UA is often seen as an evolutionary upgrade to the previous OPC specification, and one that will take some time to roll out into use. Many companies have been using classic OPC products successfully for years, and envision that the upgrade to OPC Universal Architecture (UA) will occur as part of a generational upgrade, “down the road”.However, in the context of today’s modern manufacturing environment, it is evident that OPC-UA is really more revolutionary than evolutionary, and offers a number of very compelling features that are well worth investigating immediately… Read More»

Oil & gas explorer switches to in-house process control, data acquisition in massive 1,800-site project
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Modern, Web-enabled application uses Kepware’s OPC UA solution for data collection, resulting in cost savings versus previous outsourced application, more efficient deployment of manpower, and better and faster information to manage 1,800 oil and gas fields.In the highly competitive oil and gas industry, the need for timely and accurate field data is critical. Optimizing production, planning future drilling and managing well reserves and spot gas supplies are more important than ever. Failsafe Controls is making the best-informed business decisions and saving their customers money in the process, using cutting edge process control and automation technology for its customers.Failsafe Controls’ customer, an oil and gas exploration and production company, embarked on a huge automation initiative in moving their outsourced process control and data acquisition management operations in-house. The idea was to empower all the teams and departments with the ability to recognize trends and identify any problematic areas to ensure optimal production levels are achieved…Read More »