Simple, Open and Standardised cloud connectivity solutions for Industry 4.0 and IoT

Beckhoff launches new hardware and software products for Industrie 4.0 and IoT to ensure the simplest possible implementation of applications such as big data, data mining and condition monitoring or power monitoring and cloud-based communication and data services in advanced industrial automation solutions.

Reaching beyond the scope of conventional control tasks, Beckhoff IoT products enable the implementation of superior, forward-looking automation solutions for Smart manufacturing.

With this launch the BECKHOFF adds another technologically advanced solutions to its existing range of Automation products & TwinCAT 3 Software platform together with Fieldbus I/O Modules, Embedded PCs, and Multi Core Industrial PCs the widest range offered to the Indian market by a single Automation Company.

Industrie 4.0 and Internet of Things (IoT) strategies place strict requirements on the networking and communication capabilities of devices and services. In the traditional communication pyramid point of view large quantities of data must be exchanged between field-level sensors and higher-level layers in these implementations. 


However, horizontal communication between PLC control systems also plays a critical role in modern production facilities. PC-based control technologies provide universal capabilities for horizontal communication and have become an essential part of present-day automation projects exactly for this reason. With the new TwinCAT IoT solution, the widely used TwinCAT 3 engineering and control software provides the ideal foundational technology for Industrie 4.0 concepts and IoT communication. Moreover, new IoT-compatible I/O components from Beckhoff enable easy-to-configure and seamless integration into public and private cloud applications.

 

As information technology and automation technology continue to converge, TwinCAT 3 the single software tool plays an important role for Plant Automation & Control Engineers.

 

 

Products for Industry 4.0 and IoT

Beckhoff provides users a wide variety of components for simple and standardised integration into cloud-based communication and data services. The IoT products within the TwinCAT 3 automation software platform offer varied functionalities for exchanging process data by means of standardised publish/subscribe-based communication protocols and for accessing special data and communication services of public cloud service providers. Corresponding services can be hosted in public cloud systems, such as Microsoft Azure™ or Amazon Web Services™ (AWS), but can be used just as effectively in private cloud systems.

These IoT functions can be accessed alternatively via special function modules directly from the control program or can be configured via an application called the "TwinCAT IoT Data Agent" outside of the control program. The data to be transmitted can be selected easily via a graphical configurator and configured for transfer to a specific service. A major advantage here is that the data agent also allows integration of cloud-based services in older, existing TwinCAT systems. The process data can also continue to be exported here using the standardised communication protocol OPC UA, with the result that data can likewise be sent from non-Beckhoff systems. An additionally available smartphone app enables mobile display of a machine's alarm and status messages.

If I/O signals are to be forwarded directly without a control program, then Beckhoff's newly-announced EK9160 IoT Bus Coupler allows I/O data to be parameterised via an easy-to-configure website on the device for sending to a cloud service. The bus coupler then independently carries out the sending of the digital or analogue I/O values to the cloud service. An IoT coupling station consists of an EK9160 and a virtually limitless number of powerful and ultra-fast EtherCAT terminals. The data is sent in a user-friendly, standardised JSON format to the cloud service and can also be transmitted in encrypted form if required. Extended mechanisms, such as local buffering of I/O data in the case of an interrupted Internet connection, are provided here in the same way as a monitoring function for connected fieldbuses. The I/O signals can therefore not only be collected by means of EtherCAT, but also via other fieldbuses, such as CANOpen or PROFIBUS.

Analytics and machine learning

Beckhoff also has its own analytics platform for users to take advantage of, namely TwinCAT Analytics. This platform provides relevant mechanisms for data analysis, with all process-related machine data being recorded in a precise and cyclical manner. Depending on requirements, this data can either be stored for evaluation locally on the machine processor, or within a public or private cloud solution. TwinCAT Analytics uses TwinCAT IoT to connect to cloud solutions, ensuring seamless data communication. Generally-speaking, this provides the power to create new business ideas and models for the machine manufacturer and respective end customers to capitalise on.

Conclusion

Industrie 4.0 and IoT are on everyone's minds. This also drives the increased convergence of IT and automation technologies. Cloud-based data services can help implement such automation projects, as they save the machine manufacturer or end customer from having to provide the corresponding IT expertise. With TwinCAT IoT and the EK9160 cloud bus coupler, Beckhoff provides customers with two new product series for integrating such cloud-based data services quickly and easily into the control project. Additionally, TwinCAT Analytics enables the support of such projects using a powerful analytics platform, which facilitates comprehensive analysis of the recorded process data.

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