Using and Deploying NI OPC Servers, DSC, and LabVIEW OPC UA Toolkit

Overview

To communicate with a programmable logic controller (PLC) through LabVIEW via OPC protocols, there must be OPC clients and a server capable of communicating with each other, and with LabVIEW. NI OPC Technologies can fill the role of client and/or server.

Contents

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

 

I need to communicate with a PLC using LabVIEW and OPC. What software do I need?

There are few possible configurations of OPC clients and servers that can accomplish this communication, depending on the OPC protocol to be use. At minimum, you will need to use the OPC UA API.

 

OPC UA

  • LabVIEW OPC UA API: create OPC UA clients and servers to communicate with the PLC that is OPC UA compliant. Depending on the LabVIEW version, you have the following options:

LabVIEW 2017 and later: OPC UA Toolkit stand-alone

LabVIEW 2016 and earlier: LabVIEW DSC Module (which includes the OPC UA API) – This tutorial walks through Connecting LabVIEW to Any PLC Using OPC Servers and DSC module

Note for OPC UA Toolkit Stand-Alone:

  • The OPC UA toolkit can only be used to communicate with OPC UA compliant devices. Every component of a system used with the OPC UA toolkit must communicate with the OPC UA protocol to be included in the system
  • For .llb files using OPC UA Toolkit only a LabVIEW Run-Time Engine and OPC Run-Time Engine are needed. 
  • VeriStand custom devices are built into source distributions and do not require the LabVIEW development environment to run. 

 

Servers

  • NI OPC Servers: create, configure, and view tags associated with your PLCs. Use I/O Server to connect tags to LabVIEW shared variables. Use shared variables in LabVIEW VI to communicate with PLC tags
  • I/O Server to connect tags on 3rd-party OPC Server to LabVIEW shared variables. Use shared variables in LabVIEW VI to communicate with PLC tags.

 

LabVIEW Version

Communication Method

Additional Software Required

2017 and later OPC UA communication  LabVIEW OPC UA Toolkit
2013-2016 OPC UA communication using OPC UA API LabVIEW DSC Module 2013-2016
8.x and later Communicate with OPC Servers using Shared Variable Engine LabVIEW DSC Module 8.x and later 
6.x-7.1

Communicate with OPC Server

The Tag Engine in LabVIEW DSC 6.x-7.1 can act as both an OPC client and as an OPC server. 

LabVIEW DSC Module 6.x-7.1
5.1 and later Communicate with OPC Servers as DataSocket Client  Native LabVIEW functionality
5.0 Communicate with OPC Servers via ActiveX Automation interface Native LabVIEW functionality

 


What sort of license do I need if I am developing and deploying with LabVIEW DSC Module, NI OPC Servers, and/or LabVIEW OPC UA Toolkit?

 

LabVIEW Datalogging and Supervisory Control (DSC) Module

When purchasing the module, you can choose from Development, Deployment or Debug/Deploy.

  • LabVIEW DSC Development License is required for developing with the module in LabVIEW.
  • LabVIEW DSC Deployment License is required for each deployment PC running a client built from components of the LabVIEW DSC module.
  • LabVIEW DSC Debug/Deploy License is optional when purchasing the Deployment License. It allows a user to make small changes to the deployed code.

To download the software, select Full for the Development or Debug/Deploy License and Runtime for the Deployment license.

 

NI OPC Servers

NI OPC Servers are individually licensed and are not licensed as part of the LabVIEW Datalogging and Supervisory Control (DSC) Module or NI Software Suites. When you install the DSC Module, NI OPC Servers is installed by default with a temporary license for a two-hour evaluation period.

A license is required for each computer that runs an NI OPC Servers instance. There is no difference between NI OPC Servers software on a development computer and a deployment computer. There is no run-time or deployment version of NI OPC Servers.

Note: NI OPC Servers can connect to NI OPC clients only. Use of OPC I/O Server in DSC is not affected by the activation state of NI OPC Servers.

Licensingoptions for NI OPC Servers 2012 or later:

  • NI OPC Servers (1 driver): can connect to one driver at a time
  • NI OPC Servers (unlimited drivers): can connect to an unlimited number of drivers simultaneously

NI OPC Servers (2010 and earlier):

  • Setups using two or less drivers will not timeout
  • Setups using more than two drivers will timeout after 2 hours

 

OPC UA Toolkit

LabVIEW OPC UA toolkit contains the OPC UA API that was formerly part of the LabVIEW Datalogging and Supervisory Control (DSC) Module and the LabVIEW Real-Time Module, starting 2017 it became a separate toolkit.

Note: NI Linux Real-Time based devices do not require a deployment license.

Note:
 The OPC UA Toolkit development license does NOT come with a deployment license. A separate deployment license must be purchased for each deployment machine.


Why is OPC UA (Unified Architecture) no longer in LabVIEW DSC (Datalogging and Supervisory Control) as of the 2017 release?

From the 2017 release on, the LabVIEW OPC UA Toolkit became a standalone product. The LabVIEW DSC Module and the LabVIEW Real-Time Module no longer contains the OPC UA API. The LabVIEW OPC UA toolkit integrates secure and reliable communications in your LabVIEW applications. It incorporates a series of features for the creation of OPC UA clients, servers, and security management. In addition to the Data Access (DA) facet of the OPC UA Specifications, the toolkit also adds support for the Historical Access (HA) and Alarms & Conditions (AC) facets. The toolkit is compatible with both Windows and NI Linux Real-Time operating systems.

 

Do I need NI OPC Servers if I am using LabVIEW OPC UA Toolkit?

Depending on your application, you don’t need to install NI OPC Servers.

 

Do I need a Deployment License for an OPC UA Toolkit executable?

As mentioned in the licensing options, the OPC UA Toolkit development license does NOT come with a deployment license. A separate deployment license must be purchased for each deployment machine. You will need a deployment license for each deployment PC running a client or server built from components of the OPC UA Toolkit.

 

Do I need to upgrade OPC Server every year I upgrade my LabVIEW code using the OPC Server?

OPC Server does not have a new release every year and therefore does not necessarily need to be updated with every version if everything is compatible.

Currently, we have OPC server versions 8.6, 2009,2010, 2012, 2013, 2016. Below is a list of compatibility of LabVIEW to server. If there is a significant update of LabVIEW versions, you need to check for any compatibility issues with the code.

 

LabVIEW Version

Supported OPC Server Version

LabVIEW 2013 and later

OPC Servers 2016

LabVIEW 2013

OPC Servers 2013

LabVIEW 2011 SP1/2012

OPC Servers 2012

LabVIEW 8.6/2009/2010/2011

OPC Servers 2009/2010

LabVIEW 8.6

OPC Servers 8.6

LabVIEW 8.5 and earlier

Install an update to access OPC Servers 8.6