Three new products with OPC UA capability are highlighted this month. The first is the Glance graphical visualization client from ECG that supports OPC. Second is the updated netIOT gateway from Hilscher that brings IT systems and OT systems closer together. Third is the eWON Flexy M2M router and gateway with OPC Foundation-certified OPC UA capability.
Engineering Consultants Group, Inc. TM (ECG, Inc.) is now introducing the latest version of Glance. Glance is a real-time graphical visualization client for OPC. Glance runs on all modern devices and desktop browsers that support HTML5 with no add-ons required.
Glance’s OPC data interface is fully compatible with many OPC devices. By leveraging lightweight data historians, users have a simple and affordable solution for viewing equipment process information through Glance’s enterprise architecture.
Glance’s interface allows users to navigate and maintain a collection of graphical process displays that are suitable for an entire power generation company’s fleet as well as industrial facilities. A single installation of Glance can support tag counts ranging from just a few sites with hundreds of tags, up to 55 sites with a few hundred thousand tags.
Hilscher’s netIOT family leverages OPC UA to kick-start a new era in automation
OPC UA technologies are proving to be key in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industry 4.0 platforms. Hilscher’s new netIOT family of connectivity products has been “OPC UA enabled” as a strategically vital way of supporting IIoT services and applications, allowing users to move towards digital manufacturing benefits such as predictive maintenance, data analytics, and better resource utilization.
By partnering netIOT with OPC UA, Hilscher is offering unprecedented new ways of gathering and using low-level data that will kick-start a new era in automation. This capability is available without having to replace or reprogram existing systems. The netIOT family includes netIOT Interface modules for integrating OPC UA into field devices. OPC UA Nano and OPC UA Micro profiles are implemented, enabling data of almost any type to be collected.
At the next level of the hierarchy, Hilscher offers netIOT Edge Gateways. OPC UA field data is communicated to a netIOT Edge Gateway via existing networks (including PROFINET and EtherNet/IP), over a separate TCP channel on the Real-Time Ethernet. This channel operates invisibly to the control processes and does not interfere with regular operations. No existing equipment or processes are changed or made redundant.
Greenfield and Brownfield
The netIOT family with OPC UA makes it very attractive to upgrade existing “brownfield” systems as well as IIoT-enable new “greenfield” applications. And, since most IIoT applications and services from the major cloud vendors are available for purchase on an as-used basis (the so-called “X-as-a-service” model), IIoT is open to all budgets.
Completely new uses cases and business processes become possible. This is because, in general, a PLC only uses a small amount of available data from sensors, actuators and the network. The vast majority of real process data and information is not used. The capability to monitor systems and equipment alongside normal control functions points to new operating models, for example the leasing of machines based on time-used, or the ability to gather and analyze types of data that have not previously been considered (such as error rates and time-spent). OPC UA can read data from field devices no PLC ever would be interested in, encouraging the evolution of smarter devices that communicate data such as temperature, vibrations, current and voltage in parallel with real-time monitoring and control data.
As an active device on the OPC UA side, the netIOT Gateway can actively talk to other OPC UA servers and devices supporting OPC UA. As slaves on the Industrial Ethernet network, netIOT Edge Gateways can communicate directly with PLCs to exchange data for remote or local processing. For remote analysis and feedback, Hilscher’s netIOT Edge Gateways can deliver data to the cloud using OPC UA.
As of firmware v11.2, the eWON Flexy features an OPC UA server that allows you to access your Tags through an OPC UA Client.
An OPC UA Client configuration is very easy compared to other publishing protocols. Indeed, with OPC UA, there is no need to define and maintain a map of addresses for the Tags you publish. The OPC UA protocol allows the client to simply browse the list of the available Tags and the user just needs to pick up the Tags he wants to monitor.