Dec 13, 2013

Kepware Product Showdown: LinkMaster vs. Advanced Tags

Posted by Tucker Emerson

Beyond the basic needs for an OPC server, many companies have to move data between applications, devices, and systems. Kepware has two applications that move this data and share similar functionalities: LinkMaster (LM) and Advanced Tags (AT). Neither LinkMaster nor Advanced Tags have a tag limit, and both are equally reliable and work extremely well with any KEPServerEX driver. Deciding which one is right for your application can be tricky, however. iStock_000007679700XSmall

In this blog, I will discuss these products and even provide customer examples to help make that decision a little easier.

LinkMaster

LinkMaster is a standalone product that acts as a bridge between OPC servers, OPC-enabled applications, or legacy DDE products. LM’s strengths come from its ability to link tags both through different OPC servers and within the same OPC DA server. It is limited in its functionality within those links, however. For example, it can only link data on a data change or a static interval. While LM may be great for simple, bulk data transfers or when moving data between multiple OPC DA servers, it is less functional for more complex situations.

Example

A customer called recently who was monitoring a steel plant and needed to link a Temperature Tag from PLC A in a furnace to PLC B. The data exchange was only through one server and required a simple data transfer, so it was financially smarter for the customer to go with the LinkMaster option. 

Advanced Tags

The Advanced Tags Plug-In includes functionality to link two data tags, set a trigger based on logical states, and calculate new values from raw measures. As a plug-in, AT can be centralized on the communications server rather than dispersed across multiple locations. It has the ability to “massage” data by executing math, logic, or analysis at the tag level, thus bringing data closer to the source. It is limited by only being able to run on one instance of KEPServerEX, however—unless it is coupled with our OPC DA Client Driver. It also costs about $960 more than LinkMaster.

Example

One of our Applications Engineers recently spoke with a customer who produced drilling equipment and needed to find the minimum and maximum size of each part for Quality Assurance purposes. Because data manipulation was needed, AT was clearly the appropriate solution. If the customer also needed to find the average from two different PLCs connected through two different instances of KEPServerEX, however, it would be more difficult and require the functionality of AT and the flexibility of LM. Luckily, users can achieve this by using Kepware’s OPC DA Client Driver in conjunction with AT. The OPC DA Client Driver facilitates the link between the servers while AT manipulates the data. Although this is more expensive, it bridges the gap between the two solutions.  

Cheat Sheet

With the many similarities between these products, knowing the benefits and limitations of each can help you choose the right product for your application. 

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Have questions? Leave a comment in the space provided below, or contact a Kepware representative by emailing sales@kepware.com or by calling +1 207-775-1660.