Your IoT middleware checklist

Posted by Matt Newton on Mar 2, 2017 8:00:00 AM

In a recent developer survey conducted by the Eclipse IoT Working Group, IEEE IoT, and Agile IoT, 40.8% of respondents indicated that the IoT solutions they were either currently building or planning to build are IoT platforms or IoT middleware.

Almost every large IT or OT company today has some form of IoT platform or middleware.

In fact, right now there are over 150 self-described IoT platforms in the market today. Not neccessarily created equally.

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Topics: Energy management, PLCs, IoT, PACs, REST, IIoT, Node-RED

Debugging your industrial network with Wireshark

Posted by Matt Newton on Feb 28, 2017 8:00:00 AM

Note that the information below applies not only to PCs, PACs, and PLCs, but to pretty much any industry-standard compliant network device.

There are a ton of great network analysis tools out there today that you can pay huge sums of money for. But a go-to industry standard, and my tool of choice for everyday network troubleshooting, is a free piece of software called Wireshark.

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Topics: PLCs, IoT, PACs, Networking, IIoT

Open-loop vs. Closed-loop Process Control

Posted by Matt Newton on Feb 7, 2017 8:00:00 AM

Process Control

Process control systems are used in everything from advanced manufacturing to run-of-the-mill activities at home, like heating your house and brewing your beer. (You do brew your own beer, don't you?)

A control system that manufactures a product requires monitoring and control of many different process variables, while some at home require little more than a timer. For example, in manufacturing we may use flow meters to make sure fluids flow through pipes at a certain rate, or float meters to ensure ingredients fill a vat to a specified level.

When I brew beer at home, I may use a temperature sensor in my mash tun, wired to a controller that’s controlling my heating element to keep the mash tun at just the right temperature for optimum starch-to-sugar conversion. This is an example of a closed-loop control system.

(To see how small closed-loop control principles are scaled up to build industrial process control applications, check out the New Belgium Brewery case study and see how they use Opto 22 gear to brew their world-famous Fat Tire and other beers.)

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Topics: Food & beverage, PLCs, Tips, PACs, Oil & gas

OptoNews: New blog posts on security in automation

Posted by Jean Femia on Jan 18, 2017 3:21:12 PM

You never feel like you know enough about security.

And security issues and recommendations are constantly changing, as the bad guys try to hack in and the good guys try to keep them out. 

Here are a couple of new blog posts on this important subject, both by Opto 22's Matt Newton, who has years of experience in both automation and IT (information technology). 

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Topics: Internet of Things, PLCs, IoT, optonews, PACs, Security, IIoT, Industrial Internet of Things, OptoNews 2017-01-18

Sinking or Sourcing

Posted by Ben Orchard on Nov 4, 2015 4:53:15 PM

Sinking or Sourcing?

Let’s take a quick look at the topic of sinking and sourcing outputs.

Where did the difference come from, and where does it matter in automation?

Quick answer: you often have to choose the correct module because the device you are wiring requires either a sink or source. For example, if you have a prebuilt electrical cabinet, it may be wired using a common positive or a common negative method. Thus you HAVE to choose the correct digital output module for the way the panel is wired.

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Topics: PLCs, Electronics, Tips, IoT, Machine builder, OEM, I/O

OptoNews: Smart Industry in Chicago, Unlimited Electro in Tijuana

Posted by Jean Femia on Sep 23, 2015 5:22:04 PM

See groov and the SNAP PAC System in action at two trade shows in early October:

  • Smart Industry 2015, October 5-7 in Chicago, Illinois
  • Unlimited Electro, October 6-7 in Tijuana, Mexico

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Topics: groov, PLCs, IoT, optonews, PACs, Events & conferences, OptoNews 2015-09-23

I/O Processor

Posted by Ben Orchard on Aug 31, 2015 9:07:00 AM

The Case for Intelligent I/O Systems.

The automation PC is located in the control room, and the dump valve is on the other side of the tank farm wired to a remote I/O cabinet, all connected over an Ethernet network.

The IT guys are working on the network, and they say it may take a few days to track down the intermittent cable. But hey, in the meantime, they say that it mostly works…

That answer might be sufficient for watching YouTube, but it is just not going to cut it for controlling that valve.

What do you do?

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Topics: Discrete control, PLCs, Remote monitoring, Tips, IoT, PACs, OEM, I/O

How to set the clock on a PAC Controller

Posted by Ben Orchard on Aug 11, 2015 10:23:00 AM

What time is it?

Do you know what time it is? Does your SNAP PAC controller know what time it is? Are they the same time? Who’s right?

In this week's blog we are going to talk about this big ball of wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff.… No, not time travel, but actual time…. Specifically how to set your PAC Controller to the current time.

No reading ahead; remember, time flies like an arrow and fruit flies like a banana.

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Topics: Internet of Things, PLCs, IoT, PACs, OEM, Networking, PAC Project

To use a PID or not

Posted by Ben Orchard on Jul 22, 2015 12:26:00 PM

Loop the loop.

PID loops are used in a lot of different applications, and for good reason: they help keep our world under control. If you need to control a process temperature or pressure, you probably are going to use a PID loop. But are they always the right solution?

Ultra quick review; a proportional-integral-derivative control loop (or PID controller) compares a setpoint against a measured input value, and depending on the error, changes a control variable (output). It’s all about math. A PID loop is all about running a mathematical formula over and over at a specific rate.

The most common example of a PID loop that I often talk about in our monthly training class is the cruise control on a car. The speed of the car is the input, the accelerator is the output and the setpoint is what speed the car is doing the moment the driver presses the “set” button.

PID loops are so useful that sometimes we too quickly decide to use a one in a process when it may not be the best solution to the problem. In this week’s blog we are going to take a look at one instance where use of a PID loop may not be the best tool for the job.

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Topics: Process control, PLCs, Remote monitoring, Tips, IoT, PACs, I/O

OptoNews: How to control your MicroLogix PLC from your phone

Posted by Jean Femia on Jul 1, 2015 5:01:13 PM

What's on your MicroLogix™ PLC that you'd like to monitor or control from a mobile device?

Machine status? Temperatures and pressures? Valves and pumps?

Whatever it is, you can see it and do it now with a groov mobile operator interface. 

In our latest groov Workshop video you'll watch Opto 22's Director of Training, Mary St. John, build and use a simple interface for a MicroLogix PLC that's communicating as a Modbus/TCP slave. You'll learn how to:

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Topics: Videos, Process control, Discrete control, groov, PLCs, Remote monitoring, optonews, Integrators, OptoNews 2015-07-01

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