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During the close of the third industrial revolution, manufacturing organizations squeezed the last few drops of efficiency from machine automation by linking automated machines together and eliminating islands of automation. SCADA and data historian software solutions enabled operations staff to monitor and control an entire plant from one location reducing labor costs and providing a big picture perspective to plant operations. Today the manufacturing sector is on the doorstep of an even bigger opportunity as we begin to eliminate Islands of Information.

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In 2015, the BlackEnergy trojan was used to attack the Ivano­Frankivsk power station in West Ukraine and knocked out electricity in 80,000 homes. The bug was delivered via spear phishing emails, disguised as a Microsoft Office attachment from the Ukrainian parliament, and had the ability to delete critical system files and specifically sabotage industrial systems.

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Solar energy is a growing segment of the energy sector, but actually executing a utility-scale solar power plant can present many challenges for a traditional SCADA system. A typical solar power plant contains thousands of connected devices from a variety of vendors dispersed across a large geographical area – which can be a potential nightmare for operations and maintenance to quickly identify and correct any issues.

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It's the holiday season, and it's time to take a few days to relax, reflect on the year, and gear up for a successful 2018. To satisfy your late-night craving for automation after the children are nestled all snug in their beds, we've rounded up our most popular blog posts from 2017. It may be a stretch to hope they bring you holiday cheer, but hopefully they will give you some ideas for 2018! 

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Implementing MES solutions in your manufacturing business can be a daunting task. And an expensive one! Much of the software available on the market today is overly complicated and expensive, and those that are affordable are inflexible and underperforming.

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A Control magazine article titled "Scada reflects and reinvents" discusses the future of SCADA software and how concepts like IIOT, big data, and cloud computing are changing the face of the industry. Vertech's work creating an award winning centralized monitoring system for the solar industry was featured. Several SCADA software platforms are discussed along with viewpoints from these organizations on where the industry is headed.

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In a recent post we showed how to connect WinCC OA SCADA software to Slack. One reader asked if it was also possible to connect to Yammer, which is a similar collaboration too from Microsoft. As the reader stated so well, "Sometimes we just have to use the tool we have, not the best one." So to help make the most of a bad situation (just kidding) for this person, here is a follow-up post explaining the basics of connecting WinCC OA to Yammer.

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Slack has become one of the most widely used collaboration tools in the world today. Slack has made its mark in part by functioning as an information hub for users through integrating to hundreds of other applications. So why not integrate Slack with your industrial manufacturing plant software or SCADA system? Here's how to do it with the WinCC OA SCADA software from Siemens.

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Manufacturing operations personnel and developers of SCADA systems are increasingly being asked to implement components of web-based architectures, and many SCADA software providers are integrating this technology into their platforms. Whatever your role in the process, it’s a necessity to understand the basic architecture and terminology for web technology components in modern automation systems. This is an admittedly broad topic, so we’ll focus just on visualization tools here.

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The White Box, one of Vertech's OEE and downtime tracking solutions, was featured in the November issue of Processing magazine. The article covers Vertech's work in optimizing craft brewery operations through plant efficiency software and discusses the specific implementation at Anchor Brewing in San Francisco. The digital version of the article can be found here.

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