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Newsletter Issue # 2

Real Time Automation's - Best Darn Newsletter 

Fall Has Fallen Upon Us
RTA History
A Non-Conventional Beginning
Technical Article
Transitioning to the New OPC
Fun for All
Fun Facts and Trivia

Get a free RTA YoYo this month only!

Email your name and address to: jladd@rta- automation.com by October 14th to claim your steal of the month.

USB Fails to Deliver on the Plant Floor
What is Classic OPC?
Modbus over CIP
The Future of Modbus


The Fastest Easiest Way to Move Ethernet TCP Data to a PLC

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Fall Has Fallen Upon Us

Fall has fallen upon us. The kids are back in school and offices around the country have returned from their ghost town statuses caused by summer vacation.  

If you ever work with European customers you are accustom to 4-12 weeks of entire businesses being shut down for vacation. The idea seems so foreign to many US workers but should it? Try working on a development with any company over the summer months and a total company vacation doesn't seem like such a bad idea. In the US we make sure we stage our vacations so we always have "coverage" but it's a bit of a farce. The project is inevitably delayed multiple weeks as multiple people, with multiple solely held talents and secrets, take multiple vacations over multiple summer months. In the end one total delay may actually be better. But I digress.

The point is business is back in full swing and Manufacturing numbers are up. There may be more uncertainty than ever caused by your pick of Politics, Media, or Crazies but our industry is kicking. We have our first compact car manufacturing line and tire production facility being built in the US since they left our shores in the 70's! Why? Because of Automation. Want to make cheap off shore labor irrelevant in a competitive market, eliminate the labor and create a process that produces higher quality results?  That's what automation people do. We make production faster, cheaper and more reliable.

At RTA we hope this is a trend that continues. We are doing our best to give the System Integrators and Machine Builders behind manufacturing operations the tools to be successful. In 2012 we will be releasing major upgrades to our line of gateways, which you've made a huge success. We are taking that success along with your input and suggestion to make them even better. 

Here's to working together for continued success. 




RTA News Team

Trivia Challenge

· What activity stops all of your body's functions, including your heart?

· What is the only insect that can turn its head?

·On average, how many people are air born over the US at any given hour?

· What percentage of office workers stopped on the street for a survey agreed to give up their computer passwords in exchange for a chocolate bar?


Answers located on bottom of page..

A Little RTA History...

A Column of personal opinion by John Rinaldi, Founder and Owner of Real Time Automation.

I wish I could tell you that RTA is a product of enormous market research, exhaustive financial analysis and thorough examination of potential products and services.

I’ve gilded the lily on many occasions but I couldn’t tell a lie that big.

Truth is that the company you see and people you talk to and most everything about us is an accident.

In the old days, pre-RTA, I bopped around at a number of Automation companies. I did time (yeah it felt like that) at Proctor & Gamble in the Automation Services department. I spent much more time at Kimberly-Clark in their Feminine Care department. And then I spent several unproductive years at Allen-Bradley in the pre-Rockwell times.

That was a formative experience for me. In my department we were losing over a million dollars a month. For some reason, I was the only one concerned. I used to get these strange looks when I suggested that bad things might happen if we continue to lose a million dollars every month. Not a lot of money for a 4 billion dollar company I was told. Oddly at salary adjustment time, a raise of few thousand dollars was a massive amount of money but I digress.

So I left to be “in control” of my life. Eventually someone higher up found the leak and plugged it by killing the department. My one and only time exhibiting any kind of prescience.

So RTA was born. What kind of company was it to be? Well I had a few rules to live by:

1. If you bring in donuts when I’m in the office you get laid off. I have little to no self control.

2.   There are no hours. I’m not keeping track. Work whenever you need to so that the projects are done on time and customers are happy. Sometimes you’ll work 80 hours, sometimes 25 or 30.

3.   Answer the phone. Live person.

4.   We’re all done with school. Now is the time to hit the books and get educated. You’ll get paid by what you know and how you use that knowledge to deliver more value to our customers. You get paid more this year for delivering more value than last year. Works for the company and it works for you.

5.   Have fun. Make the place an enjoyable place to be. This is the part that most people forget. If you’re going to spend a majority of your life someplace it should be a place you enjoy. We grill out every Friday. We have company baseball games and fantasy football. Pool table will be in pretty soon.

6.   And most important – SIMPLICITY! Automation stuff is too darn complex. Simple products that are simple to understand, fast to deploy and easy to operate.

There’s a few more but that’s the basic rules from the day that we hired our first employee until now.

That last one is the reason for our success. All of you reading this are the judges of how well we accomplish that last one. None of you have the time or inclination to spend hours to understand and program a converter. You just want to move the data from here over to there.

Given our continuous upward trend on sales and units shipped it looks like you’ve judged us to be a success.

We plan on continuing that successful path but if we don’t, if we fail to give you a product that saves you time and money, you let me know. Right  away. And I’ll get it fixed.

And that’s my promise to you.

OPC - Is the Landscape We All Know and Love About to Change?

It’s hard to work almost anywhere in the automation industry without knowing something about OPC. It’s been around forever and has been unarguably one of the most successful technologies to ever hit the factory floor.

OPC provides a standardized way to move data between two dissimilar systems as long as you are using Windows and Microsoft technology. OPC Servers embed the proprietary communications protocol of some automation device and make it available to one or more OPC Clients. So, a Siemens PLC server on Windows embeds the proprietary S7 protocol and provides the data to OPC Clients embedded in Historians, HMIs, Trend Analyzers and all sorts of other Windows devices.

DCOM (Distributed COM) is the basic Microsoft transport technology that provides the standard communications architecture between the Clients and Servers. DCOM allows Clients on one Windows platform to read and write in Servers on the same machine or on machines distributed across a network.

Tens of thousands of these Clients and Servers have been deployed for thousands of devices over the years. OPC has found its way in most factory floor architectures. In fact, if you know of an automation environment that doesn’t use OPC in some way I’d like to hear about it.

Well, OPC, which is now being called OPC Classic, is now being displaced by OPC UA and OPC .Net (I’ll refer to both as OPC UA). Here’s ten things that you should know about OPC Classic and the transition to OPC UA:

1. OPC Classic has one major deficiency – DCOM. Even though that deficiency is mostly mythical. It’s really a lack of training and the lack of well-defined processes that frustrates users implementing OPC Servers.

2.   DCOM does have some serious security flaws. Over the 10+ years since its inception, Ethernet security has advanced way beyond what was put into the original DCOM.

3.   OPC UA is based on an SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) and the Web Services transport layer. The web services technology used in UA has a much more robust Security layer than is found in DCOM.

4.   OPC UA combines the Data Access, Historian, Alarm and Events and all the rest of the OPC Classic specifications into a single entity with an Object-based model. This architecture is a huge step forward over Classic OPC.

5.   The biggest advantage to having OPC UA in a device is the ability to provide seamless communication to systems based on UNIX and other non-Microsoft platforms. This is very important as more and more business systems require communications with factory floor devices and many of those business systems are some flavor of UNIX.

6.   New OPC UA Client devices will probably include OPC Classic to ease the transition from Classic to UA.

7.   OPC was not incompatibility free. There were always incompatibilities between different specifications, different specification versions and more. And unfortunately, when you start introducing OPC UA you are going to find still more incompatibilities to deal with. One of the products that you’ll probably need is a UA to Classic translator.

8.   Siemens is a big fan of UA. They strongly believe that OPC UA Servers in their PLCS will provide the network architecture of the future; a network architecture with seamless communication between those PLCs and Automation and Business systems.

9.   OPC UA is probably going to reduce your costs and hurt the business of OPC Classic Server providers like Matrikon, Kepware and others. You can expect that PLCs and many other automation devices like drives, motion controllers and other advanced devices will probably come with OPC connectivity as a standard option.

10. It is unclear how hard the IT folks will push for the adoption of UA. Since the high profile PLC worms and Trojan horses, security is of paramount importance on the factory floor. If UA security is demonstrably better than the Classic we may see a strong push to UA from the IT departments. That could alter the deployment curve for this technology.

OPC UA deployment is something that we are all going to need to watch closely over the remainder of this year and next. I’ll be having a webinar in November to go into this in much more detail. Click here to sign up for the webinar or call 262-439-4999.

Fun Facts


·Fidgeting can burn about 350 calories a day.

·If you hook Jell-O up to an EEG, it registers movements almost identical to a human adult's brain waves.

·Married men change their underwear twice as often as single men.

·Sports Illustrated magazine allows subscribers to opt out of receiving the famous swim suit issue each year. Fewer than 1% chose this option.


  Trivia Answers: Sneeze; Praying Mantis; 61,000 people; 71%
  RTA Website