23 Mar 2018

MICA.network at HANNOVER MESSE 2018

The network showcases solutions for machine data pooling and ERP applications based around the MICA® Edge Computing System on the HARTING stand (hall 11/C15) at this year‘s HANNOVER MESSE. The “last mile” – access to process data from the shop floor – is often the biggest hurdle for Industry 4.0 concepts. Network partners can provide the right kind of solution expertise through cooperative projects.

Assystem uses a demonstrator to show how data science and machine learning can be used to identify new connections and optimise operating processes, thereby reducing production costs. Machines communicate with each other, accessing internal and external data. In doing this, Assystem is able to demonstrate its huge depth of experience in the field of M2M communication with OPC/UA. The Assystem solution is a flexible system that works independently of the manufacturer‘s automation technology and can be retro-fitted to existing plant.

Machine data for a transparent value creation chain

SDI Innovation introduces its new Bluebox.SDI software tool for the monitoring, visualisation and analysis of actual and target conditions for production equipment such as CNC processing tools, injection moulding machines and production lines. The tool features pre-built applications such as TPM, OEE calculations and trend analysis. When installed on a MICA®, Bluebox.SDI can be deployed in a production system quickly and easily in decentralised mode. Dashboards with display, entry and selection options also make the solution ideal for fitting to assembly plates.

The SIEVERS GROUP also presents an IoT solution HANNOVER MESSE that has been developed with HARTING. Users can use it to link machine data with other information throughout the production process. MICA® captures the operating data from individual machines and equipment. The SIEVERS GROUP combines this with ERP and business intelligence applications.

Processing digital and analogue sensor values in real time

“From sensor to cloud” is this year’s headline theme from akquinet. The Hamburg based company is on the HARTING stand, using transparent applications to demonstrate how digital retrofits can be carried out with MICA®, modern sensor technology and open source solutions. akquinet uses the new CISS sensor from Bosch, which records physical factors such as temperature, humidity, vibration and incline. This is offered as an Industrial IoT kit alongside MICA® from HARTING. With the addition of analysis and visualisation services from akquinet, machine operators can implement efficient, comprehensive condition monitoring across different machinery already in place.

Trade visitors can also explore another application – where MICA® converts analogue signals from an angle transmitter into digital condition monitoring. akquinet uses MICA® with an IO Gateway function circuit board from DWave for this. The Italian hardware specialist is one of the latest partners to join the MICA.network. DWave’s special function circuit board for modular hardware processes analogue and digital signals in real time.

HARTING also introduces a Modbus RTU based solution for monitoring wear in automobile production. The sensor unit provided by MICA.network partner Forms Media records and monitors vibrations and three-dimensional movement in slowly rotating and moving objects. This solution can also be combined with the new MICA® Wireless. Sensor data can be transmitted via WLAN or mobile telephony for intralogistics applications, for example. HARTING also exhibits a MICA® version for IO link developed in collaboration with TEConcept.

“Tapping” Industrial Ethernet communications

A HARTING collaboration with the German Research Center for Artifical Intelligence (DFKI) shows how accurately machine data can be logged with the example of a MICA® based PROFINET sniffer. Any automated industrial system with SPS and the Industrial Ethernet Standard PROFINET can be passively “tapped” with it. The existing process is not interfered with at all. By “tapping” the communications with MICA®, all exchanged data (e.g. sensor values and actuators) can be made available to Industry 4.0 applications via open standards such as MQTT and OPC UA.

21 Aug 2017

Edge computing: taking digitisation to the edge

Edge Computing beschreibt eine Datenverarbeitung am Rand des IT-Netzwerks

While the whole world talks about the benefits of Cloud Computing, a new trend – edge/fog computing – is reshaping the IT landscape. In contrast to the oft-cited data cloud, fog or edge computing involves decentralised data processing on-site. The term „fog“ emphasises the conceptual closeness to the „clould“ but things happen much closer to the user.  Edge computing basically refers to the same thing; the term describes data processing that takes place at the edge of the IT network. Especially for Industry 4.0 scenarios, the previous limits of IT (the office or the server room) are being extended into production areas. Locally and decentralised at the source of the data, not in air-conditioned data centres.

Decentralized data processing at the edge of the network

There are clear advantages to edge computing: as more and more end devices are networked in the course of the internet of things, huge mountains of data are created which require extremely fast and therefore expensive data connections for their proper transmission. Fog computing, on the other hand, takes care of basic data processing locally and forwards only the results to the central cloud providers. As a result, the amount of data being transferred decreases considerably. This reduced data volume also results in a reduced vulnerability to malicious attacks. It can also lead to significantly lower latency for industrial control systems because the data is processed locally and does not leave the local networks. There are also compliance reasons for using edge computing – storing raw data locally provides improved security and protection for your data.

Suitable devices for edge computing applications

 

Small versatile computers are required for edge computing; these must be able to work reliably in a harsh environment, handle various protocols and be capable of processing data.

 

In the traditional production environment, data processing has tended to focus on operating individual machines or facilities. In contrast, the digital transformation underway in industrial enterprises now aims at an all-encompassing networking of all “things” – Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is the magic word. Simple IoT gateways usually only communicate with cloud providers without saving or analysing the data. For such applications, traditional industrial PCs are unsuitable because they have excessive performance, size, and costs. Small versatile computers are therefore required; these must be able to work reliably in a harsh environment, handle various protocols and process data. On the MICA, for example, database programs and protocols can be installed and connected like smartphone apps. So data can be collected and processed on-site with speed and flexibility. Since the MICA is designed for protection class IP67, it can transition seamlessly from prototyping to permanent installation on a machine.

 

The best of both worlds

The synergy results from the good scalability and availability of the cloud, which can be used for capacity bottlenecks in local IT resources or as a fallback solution. It also provides a central storage location for collecting and presenting the results of the processed raw data from multiple locations.

Cloud providers also offer post-processing services, such as machine learning or big data analytics, which are difficult to implement locally. The collected data can then be accessed centrally on the cloud storage. The MICA.network provides MICA-based solutions for such applications. These help bridge the gap between fog/edge computing and the cloud.

IT decision-makers are increasingly facing the question of whether to process their data in the cloud or in the fog. In the long term, it will be hard to avoid a combination of both.

 

 

21 Aug 2017

Blogger Peter Oakes to test MICA

Peter Oakes is a technical blogger living in Canada. With his YouTube channel he offers “a place to learn new things related to electronics, test and measurement and programming of micro-controllers” to more than 15000 subscribers. In this video he puts MICA to the acid test.

 
18 Aug 2017

Cloud computing for small to mid-sized companies

Small and mid-sized companies have long resisted the cloud computing trend. However, this phalanx of the resistance is slowly crumbling. In fact, more and more decision-makers are realising that the use of cloud computing can provide major cost savings. Many requirements from customers and employers cannot be delivered without the support of cloud-based services. Data security remains a continual issue – as it should.

Data in the cloud – gone with the wind?

Cloud computing refers to non-local data processing. The hardware and software are not located locally at the company (referred to as on-premise or private cloud) but rather located in a remote data centre and then made available by a cloud provider via internet. Perhaps it is the term itself which causes some of the decision makers discomfort. Is company data safe in the cloud, or is it “gone with the wind”?

Cloud Computing or On Premise?

The storage, performance and security offered by cloud computing providers is generally more cost-effective than providing the hardware and personnel locally. And this is also a great advantage for SMEs, since they don’t need expensive server rooms and IT specialists. The ability to analyse large amounts of data at high speeds, in particular, often cannot be implemented by the local IT department at a reasonable cost.  Software is also increasingly being used as a service from the cloud (software-as-a-service, or “SaaS”). Thus, expensive programs do not have to be purchased and installed. Cloud computing is also advantageous compared to on-premise installations when several sites are to be networked and supplied with identical software. The same applies when providing operational information on mobile devices. Many such applications are already available from our MICA.network partners.

Big data for machine learning 

Das Bild zeigt in einem Dashboard zwei Graphen von Klimadaten (Temperatur, Luftfeuchte) über die Zeit.
Combining environmental data (climatic data shown in photo) with order data and machine data

 

A typical cloud computing scenario in manufacturing companies is context-based information presentation. Employees from the manufacturing or service department automatically receive the information that they currently require – typically on their mobile device (tablet, smartphone or smartwatch). The necessary information must therefore be compiled from real-time and historical data and then analysed. The real-time data is collected using existing or newly installed sensors. Temperature sensors, for example, detect the ambient conditions of machines. Cloud services start learning the machine’s behaviour by analysing long track data, and draw conclusions about possible future events, such as disturbances or risks, and put them in relation to the machine temperatures. As a result, machine wear can be detected early based on temperature deviations. This additional information is communicated clearly and at an early stage via notifications or dashboards so that the necessary repairs or replacements can be scheduled. As a result, production losses or delays are avoided. Significant costs and risks do not spring up unexpectedly.

IoT gateways: data from the sensor to the cloud

Condition Monitoring System
Condition Monitoring System

Devices in the automation pyramid, starting with autonomous sensors and controllers, are not normally designed to transfer data to the cloud. There are so-called IoT gateways which are used for this purpose. The best tools for this job are small industrial PCs, such as HARTING’s MICA, because their performance, connectivity and return on investment (ROI), have been optimized for these tasks. As an IoT gateway, the MICA collects data from sensors or the PLC. It then converts this into an interpretable data format (such as OPC-UA) and transmits the data to the cloud using an installed Cloud Connector. The container architecture of the MICA enables connectors for various cloud providers to be easily installed as apps. Apps for well-known cloud providers (Dimension Data, IBM Bluemix, Microsoft Azure and SAP Hana) have already been implemented or certified.

Data security for cloud computing

Many companies are, understandably, very concerned about data security. This includes both protection against third-party access (hackers) and against the unauthorised use of data by the provider of the cloud infrastructure. This protection usually is provided by VPN (virtual private network) connections between the IoT gateway and the cloud or even the end application. However, these must be easy to operate and compatible with standardised hardware and conventional communication channels.

06 Jul 2017

Talk with Node-RED IoT

EtherCAT, PROFINET, MQTT, OPC-UA? Anyone who wants to partake in the fourth Industrial Revolution must speak IoT fluently. IBM’s open-source Node-RED software, installed on the MICA, now enables a simple visual “wiring” of communication networks and integrated processes for sensors and controllers to back-end systems and the cloud.

Node-RED is suitable for designing and integrating modern IoT architectures; it enables the “wiring” of digital components by creating workflows in a visual editor. This greatly reduces the amount of programming required for designing the integration processes. Node-RED is based on the Node.js programming language, which is quite popular for use in IoT projects because of its over 250,000 extensions and an active open source community.

Node-RED can be easily and securely installed

When installed on the MICA, Node-RED offers new possibilities for the versatile and efficient design of integration solutions for the acquisition/pre-processing of sensor and control data in back-end systems and the cloud. Node-RED can be easily and securely installed on the MICA thanks to its LXC container architecture.

The NODE-RED container for the MICA is available for download here …

02 Mar 2017

MICA certified for “Microsoft Azure for IoT“

HARTING MICA® zertifiziert für Microsoft Azure for IoT

Microsoft’s certification process places certain demands on end devices which work with Microsoft Azure services. As a result, the MICA went through a series of tests provided by Microsoft in order to evaluate the functionality of the hardware. The results validated by Microsoft mean MICA meets the requirements of the “Microsoft Azure Certified for IoT” programme.

The “Microsoft Azure Certified for IoT” programme is also intended to help speed up IoT projects with Azure by providing a set of available sensors and devices that are tested for usability and compatibility with the Azure IoT Suite. 
More information can be found on www.azure.microsoft.com/en-gb/marketplace/certified-iot-partners/.

With Azure, Microsoft provides a collection of integrated Cloud services to create, deploy, and manage applications across a global network of data centres.