Programmatic Changes via the Configuration API
The new REST-based API enables users to remotely apply programmatic changes to the KEPServerEX configuration via third-party client applications (including SCADA, HMI, IoT applications, and simple web applications). These changes include adding, editing, reading, and deleting objects (such as channels, devices, and tags) in the server. This feature is especially helpful for users with large and constantly-changing projects or companies who want to:
- Programmatically build KEPServerEX project files
- Protect the KEPServerEX project configuration by limiting modifications made by lower-level users
The Configuration API enables programmers to create simple webpages where users can identify the properties that change, and then programmatically create the channels, devices, and tags to the company standard. It also enables the use of templates to standardize creation and naming among different types of devices—ensuring consistency and increasing user efficiency.
Localization for Japanese and German Markets
KEPServerEX Version 6 includes localized core features and top-tier drivers in Japanese and German to increase accessibility, productivity, and safety for Asian and European markets. This provides local customers and global multinationals the confidence that their technicians and engineers can configure, monitor, and troubleshoot KEPServerEX safely and efficiently.
Language selection is available in an easily-accessible location, enabling users to change it at any time. All languages are installed by default.
Native Development of OPC UA Technology
The core OPC UA functionality available in KEPServerEX Version 6 enables users to meet today's performance and scalability requirements while seamlessly evolving into the Industrial IoT. Developing the technology in-house positions Kepware engineers to better support end users, with engineers' in-depth knowledge of the OPC UA standard enabling quicker resolution of customer issues. Kepware's native OPC UA functionality provides enhanced diagnostics and creates a solid foundation for the future support of additional capabilities within the OPC UA specification.
Improved User Experience
KEPServerEX Version 6 features an updated user interface that streamlines project setup, deployment, and interaction for an improved user experience and product manageability. Its unified tree view, simplified property editor, and updated wizards improve accessibility and increase user productivity
Integrating the Security Policies advanced plug-in into core server functionality enables all users to assign access permissions on individual objects based on user role. Formerly a standalone product, its integration into core server technology addresses customers' needs for security in today's complex industrial environments. These capabilities compliment users' defense-in-depth strategy by providing the control system communications layer the functionality and flexibility needed to meet site security requirements.
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). It also provides access to the ThingWorx® IoT Platform for the development and deployment of smart-connected solutions for the IoT.
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. The IoT Gateway also offers a ThingWorx Agent to move industrial data on the edge into the ThingWorx® IoT Platform using the secure ThingWorx AlwaysOn™ protocol for high throughput.
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 advanced plug-in) or historical trend data (via supported drivers) to files and/or databases.
Data Conditioning and Reduction
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.
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 provides a REST-based API that enables users to remotely apply programmatic changes to the configuration via third-party client applications (including SCADA, HMI, IoT applications, and simple web applications). These changes include adding, editing, reading, and deleting objects (such as channels, devices, and tags) in the server. The Configuration API enables programmers to create simple webpages where users can identify the properties that change, and then programmatically create the channels, devices, and tags to the company standard. It also enables the use of templates to standardize creation and naming among different types of devices—ensuring consistency and increasing user efficiency.
KEPServerEX 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.
Data Storage and Retention
KEPServerEX is capable of archiving the real-time data it collects to local storage. By leveraging the Local Historian advanced 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 advanced 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 advanced 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.
Third-Party Diagnostics Integration
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.