How a free OPC-UA server enables robust, easy PLC data collection

March 9, 2011
Systems integrator discusses why Ignition OPC-UA from Inductive Automation is being used as a standard PLC connector in all its Ignition installs.

“Ignition OPC-UA is now used as a standard PLC connector in all of our Ignition installs,” Russell said. “Most of our projects use Allen-Bradley PLCs and even if a project or installation requires or has RSLinx, we still use OPC-UA as the preferred PLC connection means.

“We were happy to find the Ignition OPC-UA product more ideally suited for our applications than the traditional OPC software we previously used. The performance is much better and recent stability of OPC-UA has indicated that we made the right move. The fact that it is free is what makes it the simplest choice of all!”

Switching From OPC-DA
The Ignition OPC-UA server is a solution to the device communication difficulties associated with legacy OPC-DA servers. Henry Palechek, the information systems and process control supervisor for a water district in southern California, said he was able to use Ignition OPC-UA when his existing OPC-DA server prevented him from collecting data from a remote building.

“Our first use of the OPC-UA server was to collect data from five Allen Bradley SLC 504s through an Ethernet gateway,” Palechek said. “The timing for the release of the OPC server was perfect because the existing OPC-DA server wasn’t allowing for remote data collection. Anyone who has setup a OPC-DA server using DCOM knows how difficult of a task that can be.”

The Best Part: It’s Free
Inductive Automation offers the Ignition OPC UA server for free, whether users purchase the Ignition software or not. “We want the market to get excited about the potential of OPC-UA,” explains Steve Hechtman, president of Inductive Automation, “and in the freedom of selecting your own platform. Plus, once users get started with Ignition, we’re confident that they’ll be blown away by everything it can do.”

Drivers for Allen-Bradley and Modbus TCP/IP are included, at no cost, with Ignition OPC-UA. A simple UDP/TCP driver is also available for free, and makes it easy to pull data from devices like barcode scanners and scales. Additionally, an API is available for developers who wish to extend the system by writing their own custom drivers.

The Ignition OPC-UA server and drivers can be used with any OPC-UA client: Simply request a free activation key, download the software, and get started using it in your control system.

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