Beckhoff Automation

One of the world’s leading automation experts, Beckhoff Automation, shares insights into the importance of Industrie 4.0 and some of the innovations it has introduced to the market.

Simple path to Industrie 4.0-enabled process technology using IoT edge device

Modern system concepts tailored to Industrie 4.0 or the Internet of Things (IoT) offer numerous advantages in terms of process efficiency, costs and quality.

The ultra-compact C6015 Industrial PC (IPC) from Beckhoff Automation is the ideal space-saving, high-performance IoT edge device to fully utilise these advantages for new and legacy systems in process industries.

This article first appeared in Mining Review Africa Issue 10 2018

By integrating comprehensive IoT and analytics functionality, PC-based control technology opens up a wealth of options to optimise production.

System consistency in the control platform ensures simple implementation and high transparency:

  • A universal portfolio of components for explosion protection, including the ELX series EtherCAT Terminals from Beckhoff Automation enables end-to-end automation of even large and complex processing plants.
  • The TwinCAT software platform from Beckhoff Automation offers specific interfaces and libraries for process technology, and enables convenient cloud integration via TwinCAT IoT and data analysis via TwinCAT Analytics in perfect synchronisation with control cycles.
  • A high-performance IoT edge device is available in the form of the C6015 ultra-compact IPC, a universally suitable machine control platform.

C6015 as an an exceptionally compact IoT edge device

Measuring just 82 x 82 x 40 mm, the exceptionally compact C6015 IPC with multi-core technology from Beckhoff Automation can be flexibly installed even in highly confined spaces.

Equipped with an Intel Atom processor offering up to four CPU cores, the C6015 provides sufficient processing power for simple collection, processing and provision of process data and for the more complex tasks required of a modern IoT gateway.

The Microsoft Azure certification of the C6015 underscores that the device is ideal for state-of-the-art Industrie 4.0 applications.

The C6015 is predestined for such communication tasks especially when retrofitting and connecting legacy systems.

Existing process technology systems can be easily equipped with additional IoT capabilities using this IoT edge device or they can be readied to meet future communication requirements.

In this way, operators of process technology systems gain access to the full wealth of IoT and analytics solutions supported by Beckhoff Automation technology, regardless of the automation technology used – be it PC-based control or third-party control platforms.

This reduces production costs, optimises product quality and improves the overview and transparency of all process workflows.

In addition, system availability and productivity can be increased and cloud-based services used, for example, to implement predictive maintenance.

TwinCAT IoT Communicator - easy and secure transfer of process data to mobile end devices

Beckhoff’s TwinCAT IoT Communicator makes it easy for PLCs to communicate with mobile devices by connecting the TwinCAT controller directly and securely to a messaging service through TLS encryption.

For smartphone and tablet users, the associated IoT Communicator App ensures that process data can be represented on all mobile devices in a clear overview. Alarms are sent to the device as push messages.

The TwinCAT 3 IoT Communicator exchanges data using a publish/subscribe mechanism. Since no special firewall settings are needed, integration into an existing IT network is easy.

Information is exchanged via a message broker that uses the standardised MQTT protocol and acts as a central messaging service in a cloud or local network. A high level of communication security is guaranteed by proven TLS encryption (up to version 1.2).

Transmitted process data can be displayed on mobile devices using the IoT Communicator App, which is available for both Android and iOS operating systems.

The IoT Communicator App also incorporates an integrated QR code scanner to facilitate entry of access data for communication between the broker and individual users.

The TwinCAT IoT Communicator simplifies the transmission of push messages. It offers a number of advantages over conventional e-mail and SMS messages by visualizing live data, variables and status values.

This makes the IoT Communicator an ideal addition to the related TwinCAT IoT and TwinCAT Analytics software products.

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