The following section delves deeper in to the outstanding feature of the KEPServerEx, centralized around accessibility, aggregation, optimization, connectivity, security, and diagnostics.
KEPServerEX leverages OPC (the automation industry’s standard for interoperability) and IT-centric communication protocols (such as SNMP, ODBC, and web services) to provide users with a single source for industrial data. Designed around the four product pillars of Proven Interoperability, Centralized Communications, On-Demand Scalability, and Industrial Strength, KEPServerEX is developed and tested to meet our customers’ performance, reliability, and ease-of-use requirements.
OPC Data Access (OPC DA) technology has been proven to be reliable in virtually every industrial environment requiring consistent data access to devices and systems. However, there are other factors that can jeopardize the integrity of a system, including software, hardware, and even human error. By using OPC redundancy technology, you can help make these systems more reliable and efficient.
RedundancyMaster resides on your OPC client machine and facilitates connections to a primary and secondary OPC server on the system’s networks by “hooking” into the OPC calls made between the client and the server. If for any reason the OPC client loses its communications link with the primary OPC server or a user-specified condition is met (such as an item is not receiving updates, a specific item value is met, or the quality of an item is set to bad), RedundancyMaster will drop the primary OPC server and promote the secondary OPC server on your network—reducing system downtime and saving you money.
RedundancyMaster is a drop-in application that does not require you to make any changes to your OPC client or server applications. Its intuitive configuration takes only minutes and will allow you to easily establish a redundant OPC system. Simply browse and select your primary and secondary OPC servers, and then your system is up and running. RedundancyMaster includes features such as email notification, object and link monitoring, and diagnostics logging. In the situation where you need multiple redundant OPC server pairs that utilize the same OPC server vendor, we have added the capability to alias the ProgID (Program ID) of the OPC server. (Aliasing may require minor OPC client modifications.)
OPC is the leading standard for industrial automation connectivity. KEPServerEX supports the OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA) specification and many of the OPC Classic specifications, including OPC Data Access (OPC DA), OPC Alarms and Events (OPC AE), and OPC Historical Data Access (OPC HDA)
KEPServerEX has preferred access to leading automation software, including iFIX by GE Intelligent Platforms (NIO) and InTouch by Wonderware (SuiteLink/FastDDE). KEPServerEX also supports preferred access to Oracle MES and MOC solutions through their proprietary API.
KEPServerEX supports multiple interfaces for integration with IT applications, including ODBC for logging information to a database and SNMP for providing information to a Network Management System (NMS). With the advent of IoT and Big Data applications, KEPServerEX now includes the ability to communicate with Splunk software and cloud services via the Industrial Data Forwarder for Splunk.
With the IoT Gateway, KEPServerEX can seamlessly stream real-time industrial control data directly into Big Data and analytic software for Business Intelligence and Operational Excellence. Its customizable data format supports most MQTT and REST applications—enabling users to choose the vendors and communication methodologies right for their system.
Some applications require information to be made available from a file or database. This information is typically exported at a predefined rate and includes both current and historical data. KEPServerEX has the ability to export historical Electronic Flow Measurement (EFM) data (via the EFM Exporter plug-in) or historical trend data (via supported drivers) to files and/or databases.
In addition to providing raw values to connected applications, KEPServerEX can perform linear or square root scaling, perform basic arithmetic expressions, or apply deadband calculations on raw data and provide its aggregate. This provides minimal bandwidth and resource utilization by providing only the most critical updates.
KEPServerEX is used in critical applications where highly-reliable systems are required for maximum uptime. It includes the ability to define redundant network paths, primary and secondary data sources, and applicable failover criteria.
In large networks that have many devices and applications requiring information, flexible control is necessary to allow for customized load-balancing of data collection and information flow. KEPServerEX provides tools to schedule the frequency of communications and throttle the demand across the network.
KEPServerEX optimizes communications with devices by aggregating identical requests from different applications whenever possible. Multiple demands on data can be batched together into the fewest requests possible. These optimizations are unique to each protocol, and are designed to reduce network overhead and device processing.
In a typical industrial automation network, devices and controllers must communicate with one another even if they are not from the same manufacturer or do not support the same protocol. KEPServerEX provides the ability to establish links between data values in different data sources, allowing Machine-to- Machine (M2M) communications as close to the device as possible.
KEPServerEX is a communications platform that can support connections to thousands of data sources and provide information to hundreds of applications. The platform design simplifies the configuration of the connected applications by providing a single point of entry to all information. KEPServerEX also enables troubleshooting and issue diagnosis, provides control to the access of information based on user roles, and the ability to restrict the frequency of communications over bandwidth-limited telemetry-based environments.
KEPServerEX provides a unified configuration for managing connectivity to any data source. Anything can be added, configured, or deleted while the server is on-line and operational. Users can configure projects manually using a step-by-step wizard or programmatically through the export and import of XML and CSV files.
KEPServerEX is capable of archiving the real-time data it collects to local storage. By leveraging the Local Historian plug-in, applications can access this historical data (via OPC HDA) for future analysis. KEPServerEX can also store information in any ODBC-compliant database using the DataLogger plug-in, which has a store-and-forward capability for when a database is unreachable or unable to process the information fast enough.
KEPServerEX offers the broadest range of drivers available, supporting devices across various verticals within the Industrial Automation Industry. While most drivers act as masters that initiate requests, there are many drivers that can emulate a device where communications are driven by a controller. KEPServerEX drivers also support a variety of wired and wireless network mediums for Ethernet, serial, and proprietary networks. Although most drivers connect directly with hardware devices, some are designed to connect with other applications—such as databases, custom software applications, or other OPC servers.
Industrial automation equipment can be deployed in a dry and heated factory, but it can also be installed inside a vehicle, on a remote pipeline, or in a well or pump station. In these remote environments, there are often a variety of telemetry solutions in use like cellular, radio, or satellite modems. KEPServerEX supports these telemetry configurations and provides additional ways to optimize communications through virtual networks, timing parameters, device demotion, and by scheduling communications across devices.
As automation networks have grown from ten controllers to thousands of controllers, tools that aid and accelerate deployment are critical to a solution’s success. KEPServerEX provides many tools that speed the deployment of new devices, including Automatic Tag Generation (ATG) and Device Discovery (when supported by the device and communication protocols). Users can also export, manipulate, and import an XML project file to programmatically define the configuration.
As systems are configured, components must be implemented and tested before the entire system becomes available. KEPServerEX allows any data source to be placed into simulation mode prior to deployment. In addition, the Memory Based driver can be configured to create a range of static and dynamic data points. The Advanced Simulator driver can leverage a database and its contents to drive application-specific simulation data into connected applications.
Access to the KEPServerEX configuration can be restricted through the User Manager. This tool allows the administrator to define user groups and users with restricted access to certain project configuration tasks, and also provides the ability to disconnect client applications.
There are various tools available within KEPServerEX to control user access to the server, data source, or data values. The Security Policies plug-in limits access based on OPC UA user credentials while supporting default handling for anonymous users (both OPC UA and other client interfaces). The ability to dynamically address information can be disabled, limiting user access to tags defined within the project. KEPServerEX supports a number of secure client standards including SNMP (v3 security), OPC UA, and OPC DA (DCOM security) to further restrict access to the server, as well as a number of secure device protocols to meet the requirements of DNP3, SNMP, and OPC UA data sources. Secure data tunnels can be configured by leveraging multiple KEPServerEX instances at remote endpoints to pass data through firewalls and meet authentication and encryption requirements across the Internet
OPC Diagnostics provide a real-time and historical view of OPC events between any OPC client and the server, including method calls made by the client or callbacks made by the server. The ability to view actual communications and responses is invaluable when troubleshooting client accessibility. The diagnostics tools within KEPServerEX greatly speed deployment and reduce downtime.
Communication Diagnostics provide real-time capturing of the protocol frames transferred between the server and any device, as well as indications on the driver’s performance. All read and write operations can be viewed or tracked directly in an OPC client application using built-in diagnostics tags. This is useful when modifying key communication parameter settings (such as baud rate, parity, or Device IDs), because corrections are immediately visible.
Diagnostics information can be viewed within KEPServerEX and by third-party applications. Diagnostics information is provided through system-defined tags and accessible to the same clients connecting to the data sources. KEPServerEX logs event information, which is accessible within the configuration tool or to any application that supports the OPC Alarms and Events specification.
DTL Systems Limited is a Connected with Kepware® Preferred Distributor in Ireland. As a Connected Preferred Distributor, DTL Systems Limited promotes, distributes, and offers local support and training for all software solutions across Kepware’s product portfolio outside of North America.
@Kepware is a software development business of PTC Inc. located in Portland, Maine. Kepware provides a portfolio of software solutions to help businesses connect diverse automation devices and software applications and enable the Industrial Internet of Things. From plant floor to wellsite to windfarm, Kepware serves a wide range of customers in a variety of vertical markets including Manufacturing, Oil & Gas, Building Automation, Power & Utilities, and more. Established in 1995 and now distributed in more than 100 countries, Kepware’s software solutions help thousands of businesses improve operations and decision making. Learn more at https://www.kepware.com/.