When Kepware Technologies works on updates to its KEPServerEX communications software, sometimes it is looking to add new functionalities to capture new markets and sometimes the focus is on expanding existing capabilities to address customer needs. The latest release, KEPServerEX version 5.18, falls firmly in the latter category.
“This release is very much focused on enhancing capabilities for existing customers,” said John Harrington, director of product management for Kepware, describing the updates that have been made. “In every case, we took existing functionalities and made them more flexible, more capable for our customers. We recognize the need to grow the business, but we also recognize the need to help and support our existing customers.”
Key enhancements for the latest release include additional device connectivity and an improved user experience for customers in Kepware’s key markets: manufacturing, oil and gas, and power and utilities. Based in all cases on feedback from customers about their needs, updates include:
- The Media Level Redundancy plug-in now supports a user-configurable triggering mechanism that can initiate failover based on single point value change, quality change, or rate of change.
- Changes can now be made to tag definitions in real time. These changes apply to existing and new clients, and ensure the integrity of all connected clients.
- The ABB Totalflow driver now supports liquid electronic flow measurement (EFM) data collection. It also has the ability to retrieve trend log files from Totalflow devices (which log real-time data points like flow rates, pressures and temperatures) and make them available via CSV files.
The Totalflow driver updates are particularly applicable to the oil and gas industry, which uses EFM in pipelines and oil and gas wells, Harrington said. “That’s extremely useful to our oil and gas customers,” he said. “It’s used for analysis of the productivity of individual wells, and sometimes for custody transfer.”
The EFM plug-in is a set of functionalities that Kepware added to its communications software a few years ago, but which was initially focused on gas measurement, Harrington explained. ABB modified its Totalflow product to support liquid measurement shortly before Kepware came out with this software release, so the two companies worked closely together to enhance the EFM capabilities accordingly for this latest version.
The enhancements that Kepware made to its core server are applicable to all of its key markets, Harrington said. “With our software, we’re constantly balancing features and capabilities that provide integrity, flexibility and scalability of the overall platform,” he explained. “In some ways, they run in conflict with each other. It’s very hard to combine all of them. In the past, we always erred on the side of integrity.”
An architectural change addressed demands from customers whose servers have gotten bigger, with more clients, making it difficult to force a server shutdown to make changes to the system. The ability to edit and change tag definitions in real time makes the system much more flexible.
KEPServerEX V5.18 features updates to 32 products, including significant enhancements to the OPC UA client driver, Advanced Tags plug-in, and Scheduler plug-in. It includes new Fisher ROC and ROC Plus Ethernet drivers for the Fisher ROC Suite, along with additional OpCode support in all ROC Suite drivers. Kepware also recently released ClientAce version 184.108.40.206, a .NET developer toolkit that enables application programmers to design custom OPC clients.