The concept of Industry 4.0 is based on the end-to-end networking of production environments. Today, 59 percent of German industrial companies with more than one hundred employees are already using Industry 4.0 applications, according to a recent study by the digital association Bitkom on the degree of digitalisation in factories. According to the study, more companies are planning to use such applications in the medium to long term.
Data-based business models are gaining ground
Triggered by Industry 4.0, data-based business models are gaining ground in many companies. Along with this goes the use of numerous different data sources. Here, the spectrum ranges from sensors and actuators to robot controls and machine controls (PLC or PC-based). Different formats and transmission speeds are therefore unavoidable. Generating data for further analyses thus becomes a real challenge. The solution is a uniform toolset, as Kontron provides with SUSiEtec within its portfolio.
Connectivity is a complex process
Anyone who wants to automate processes and make them more efficient with the help of AI algorithms cannot avoid the topic of connectivity, in addition to using cloud computing. Here, production data is transmitted via protocols such as REST, MQTT or AMQP. However, many companies are not yet that far advanced in their planning and have only rudimentarily solved the issue of connectivity, sometimes not at all. The apparent complexity of the task prevents the implementation of adequate solutions. After all, it is not only a question of how to productively connect machines and IT systems. In the production environment, it must also be possible to fill the necessary databases with the right data at the right time and at the same time keep to the correct formats. Changing file formats is part of everyday life - for example, converting a CSV text file into JSON format.
Herculean task solved
The software experts at Kontron AIS have found a solution to this Herculean task: the FabEagle® Connect connectivity platform. The software is not a classic one-to-one converter for specific data formats, such as OPC to MQTT. Rather, at its core it is a middleware that functions as a layer with its own logic. In this way, multiple sources and destinations can be integrated via configurable building blocks. These configurations then consist of components for connectivity, data access and processing. In this way, for example, data from multiple machines can be prepared and delivered to a cloud application. In order to be able to classify the data on a time axis, it is time-stamped by a buffer in the logic layer of the middleware. Data can thus be easily edited, configured, adapted in format and, if necessary, compressed before it is delivered to the cloud application.
Flexibility thanks to high scalability
In the production environment, flexibility is not only a sought-after characteristic, but often even a matter of survival in highly competitive markets. FabEagle® Connect is easily scalable. Simple applications can be expanded through necessary configurations. If necessary, they can also be divided into several, parallel configurations. On the one hand, this ensures redundancy, on the other hand, it also increases data throughput. Preconfigured standard interfaces and the reusability of existing interfaces optimise the programming effort, which significantly accelerates the implementation of otherwise time-consuming projects. Connectivity thus becomes easy and efficient to implement.
Have you already asked yourself the question of simpler connectivity in your projects for the introduction of Industry 4.0 applications?
That was the third part of our blog article series about the SUSiEtec toolset for holistic digitalisation. In the fourth and final part, you will soon find out more about the SUSiEtec Workforce module.