Factories and Frameworks
On a factory floor, hundreds of sensors and actuators gather data and implement machine operations. These sensors must be able to communicate over the installation’s IP network. A variety of products and platforms have emerged to smooth these efforts.
As the industrial automation systems in today’s factories move quickly toward embracing IoT technology, industrial IoT (IIoT) solution providers are rolling out a variety of products and platforms designed to meet emerging needs. The duties of IIoT systems range from the monitoring of machinery conditions to collecting edge sensor information and routing it through IIoT gateways for cloud-based processing.
Over the past six months, vendors of box-level systems, rugged IoT gateways and IoT-ready data acquisition gear have rolled out a new crop of solutions designed to provide advanced building blocks to meet diverse IIoT requirements. Meanwhile, IoT software frameworks are smoothing the way to create scalable IIoT setups that leverage cloud-based resources.
A key part of IIoT is the monitoring of factory machinery. Normally, providing constant machine monitoring requires a data acquisition (DAQ) system consisting of an embedded host computer and DAQ card that are deployed at remote machine sites. But, when remote machines are numerous and spread out geographically, the deployment of DAQ systems at each site becomes difficult.
With that in mind, in March, ADLINK Technology announced its new MCM-204 edge DAQ system for machine condition monitoring (MCM). Powered by the Arm Cortex-A9 processor, the MCM-204 is designed as a standalone DAQ device without the need for a host computer, and provides dual Ethernet ports to transmit data back to the backend server and enable daisy-chain connection of multiple devices (Figure 1).
Commonly used vibration-related indices, such as voltage, FFT and RMS, can be calculated by the MCM-204, bringing the benefits of edge computing to a large-scale infrastructure. In addition, the MCM-204 offers flexible support for various data access options, providing worry-free remote management and firmware/algorithm updates through the built-in web console. All these features make the MCM-204 well suited for remote real-time monitoring, analysis and control.
ADLINK’s compact MCM-204 features a 24-bit high-resolution ADC and captures high-frequency signals at 128ksamples/s. All channels have a built-in IEPE 4mA excitation current source, eliminating the need for additional signal conditioning to trigger sensors to capture signals. In addition, the MCM-204 can also support digital tachometer, digital temperature sensor and voltage output load current sensor functions for acquiring rotating speed, temperature and load current of the machine, thus providing a wide range of options for equipment monitoring tasks. Furthermore, this all-in-one solution has rich built-in data type support, including as voltage, FFT data, and RMS_OA. Users can easily build a complete and powerful real-time monitoring system without having to expend effort on programming development.
SMART VIBRATION SENSOR
IIoT machine monitoring has also seen innovation at the sensor level. The development of smart manufacturing relies on sensors, which acquire data and automate the manufacturing process and thereby enable predictive maintenance. Along those lines, in March, Advantech announced a collaboration with Semtech to launch a LoRaWAN smart vibration sensor. Called WISE-2410, the sensor monitors surface temperatures of machines and autonomously calculates their vibration characteristics. This helps factory owners and admins to analyze data and plan for proactive maintenance or take preventative measures that predict events before they happen.
WISE-2410 is equipped with the latest Arm Cortex-M4 processor, which is used to transform original vibration data into spectral information via Fourier transformation functions to calculate vibration values (Figure 2). Users can estimate the operational status of any motor-powered mechanical equipment such as pumps, air compressors, and fans by cross-comparison of RMS speeds and eigenvalues against ISO 10816-3 standards. Advantech also provides its WISE Studio utility whereby users can set operation parameters through a user-friendly GUI. Whether it’s reading reports, getting temperature values, vibration information, setting alarms and so on, all can be done using the WISE Studio utility.
The WISE-2410 LoRaWAN Smart Vibration Sensor can be used to monitor fixed or mobile devices and collect data 24/7. Operators can quickly view and understand the utilization rates of all devices to maximize their capacity. Through RMS, Peak, Kurtosis, and other vibration characteristic values, operating trends can be analyzed and equipment can be proactively tracked to discover the health and status of production lines and machine., This lets you prevent unplanned downtimes and learn the root causes of problems in order to plan better preventive maintenance. WISE-2410 is easy to set up and supports plug and play. The product can withstand wide-temperature ranges from -20°C to 85°C and has an IP-66 rating for dust and water ingress resistance.
As industrial automation workstations integrate IoT, they’re also starting to leverage AI and machine learning. Those all require increased levels of computing muscle in platforms that can work in the harsh environments of the factory floor. With all those needs in mind, in April Axiomtek announced its eBOX710-521-FL, a fanless, workstation-grade embedded system with scalable CPU options including the Intel Xeon, 9th/8th generation Intel Core or Intel Celeron processors with the Intel C246 chipset (Figure 3). The embedded system is feature-rich, rugged and highly scalable and offers triple independent displays. It is well-suited for AIoT applications, such as machine learning, deep learning, intelligent surveillance, robotic control, edge computing and more, says Axiomtek.
To meet different requirements in the automation industry, the eBOX710-521-FL has a flexible I/O window slot for ease of customization and two swappable 2.5″ SATA HDD drive bays with Intel RAID 0 and 1. The IP40-rated embedded system was designed to operate reliably in industrial environments with a wide operating temperature range of -40°C to +70°, power input of 24VDC and vibration endurance for up to 3G.
The eBOX710-521-FL is equipped with two 260-pin DDR4-2666 ECC/non-ECC SO-DIMM slots for up to 64GB of system memory. Its features include six Gbit Ethernet ports, two RS-232/422/485 ports, four USB 3.2 Gen2, two USB 3.2 Gen1, one DVI-I, one HDMI and one DisplayPort. It also offers a Phoenix-type VDC power input connector, one AT/ATX quick switch, one ATX power switch, one reset switch and one remote switch. For expandability, it offers two full-size PCI Express Mini Card slots, two SIM slots and four SMA-type antenna openings for 3G/4G, GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or other RF connections. The industrial-grade eBOX710-521-FL is compatible with Windows 10 IoT and Linux operating systems.
Compute density has become a much sought-after feature for today’s IIoT designs. An ability to pack lots of computing in a compact, box-level solution allows IIoT implementations to meet the needs of today while also providing room to support future processing needs—an important factor in long-life cycle applications like industrial automation.
With just those requirements in mind, in March WINSYSTEMS debuted its compact SYS-ITX-N-3900 industrial computing platform based on the Intel Atom E3900 Apollo Lake processor family (Figure 4). With the performance to support Windows 10 IoT and Linux operating systems, it can sustain the long product life cycles required for Industrial IoT, energy management and medical design solutions. It uses less than 12W for fanless applications and performs reliably in industrial operating temperatures ranging from -20º to +60ºC. It includes a SODIMM socket supporting up to 8GB of DDR3 system memory and internal mounting support for one 2.5″ SATA HDD/SSD.
The SYS-ITX-N-3900 is a full-featured fanless embedded computer with onboard I/O that simultaneously supports VGA and DisplayPort video. This complete system includes dual Gbit Ethernet controllers, two USB 3.0 channels and one RS-232/422/485 serial port. It offers added security with its soldered-down TPM 2.0 module for authenticating root of trust.
Half-size Mini-Card slots and M.2 connectors provide additional expansion options. The system is encased in a rugged aluminum enclosure measuring just 150mm × 150mm × 60mm high. It is specifically designed for mounting in tight spaces. It also accommodates DC input power ranging from +12V to 24V DC, essential for flexibility in different harsh industrial environments.
IIoT GATEWAY WITH LTE/Wi-Fi
For many IIoT implementations, it’s not practical to connect edge nodes using cabling. Wireless connectivity is needed to reach remote sensors and edge devices and connect them with cloud-based computing and services. Feeding such needs, in January Moxa added a new series of rugged wireless-ready IIoT gateways, the UC-8200 series, to its Arm-based industrial computers. The UC-8200 Series includes fanless computers with Arm Cortex-A7 dual-core 1GHz processors that are designed for operations in harsh environments with wide temperatures ranging from -40°C to 85°C (-40°F to 185°F) (Figure 5).
I/O includes dual serial ports, dual Gbit Ethernet ports, 4x DIs, 4x DOs and 1x CAN. Dual mPCIe and dual SIM slots that support redundant Wi-Fi/cellular connectivity let users efficiently deploy the UC-8200 in a variety of complex communication scenarios in IIoT applications. To address the need for longevity in industrial-automation projects, the UC-8200 series is backed with a 5-year hardware warranty and 10-year long-term support for Moxa Industrial Linux.
The UC-8200 computers provide built-in cellular connectivity to LTE Cat. 4 networks with dual SIM slots for redundancy and integrated GPS for location tracking. Wi-Fi connectivity can be enabled via expansion modules. To speed up the time-to-market, Moxa provides a management utility for programmers to quickly configure cellular functions on the computers. Wireless compatibility with regional carriers is ensured through RF type approvals such as FCC, IC, PTCRB, RED, RCM and NCC.
SECURE INDUSTRIAL NETWORKING
With many industries moving toward connecting sites and devices through edge computing and IIoT environments, network security is becoming more important than ever. According to AAEON, recent activity by hackers have shown a shift in focus toward attacking connected infrastructure. Industrial networks are often less developed and less secure than central servers, leaving a glaring weak spot as many companies begin to adopt Industry 4.0 solutions.
To address such needs, in March, AAEON announced its latest network appliance, the FWS-2275. It was designed as a hardware solution to help solve the issues of network security in industrial environments. The FWS-2275 is powered by the Intel Celeron Apollo Lake N3350 processor with built-in Intel AES-NI, providing data encryption that is secure with faster processing than standard AES (Figure 6).
The FWS-2275 is designed to power network solutions such as UTM, firewall and SD-WAN. The FWS-2275 also includes on-board Wi-Fi, a USB mini Console and a SIM card slot. The FWS-2275 can also be deployed as an IIoT gateway or edge computing device. The unit is built tough to operate on-site in industrial environments. In addition to an aluminum chassis, it has a fanless design and wide operating temperature range of 0°C to 50°C.
The FWS-2275 also includes wide voltage input of 9V to 24V, as well as digital I/O and COM ports to integrate with existing industrial infrastructure. The system can be deployed in various roles, as an edge or IoT gateway, or as vCPE for an SD-WAN network. AAEON manufacturer and OEM/ODM services also provide help with configuration or customization for systems integrators and independent developers.
PALM-SIZED IIOT SOLUTION
One complication in choosing IIoT hardware is that the I/O needs of one industrial application can vary drastically compared to another. And yet, most have a basic set of core computing and networking technology needs that are common across multiple markets. In August 2019, American Portwell Technology addressed those challenges with its the KUBER-2000 series, a new generation of palm-sized, ready-to-use industrial IoT appliances designed for a wide range of applications in the Industry 4.0 world.
According to the company, the KUBER-2000 series offers the industrial IoT market a rich portfolio of ultra-small form factor devices with state-of-the-art expansion design that ensures that various I/O choices for different applications are fulfilled with minimal investment. The KUBER-2000 family includes six models so far, with the basic model KUBER-2110 embedding an Intel Celeron N3350 or Atom E3930/E3940 processor with up to 4 cores and on-board LPDDR4 DRAM up to 4GB (Figure 7). The ultra-small (palm-size) unit has a form factor of 99mm × 46mm × 92mm and operates on less than 10W.
The KUBER-2110 supports 2x USB 3.0, 2x GbE (Intel i210), 1x M.2 key E 2230 for expansion (such as storage, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth) and 4K DP display support. Input power ranges between 12V to 30VDC with ±20% power consumption. The unit also features an on-board eMMC 5.0 up to 256GB; extended temperature range, fan-less and thermal solution design, EN 60068-2 vibration and shock resistance and DIN rail and wall-mount options. It boasts an Ingress Protection rating of IP30 and CE/FCC certification.
The KUBER-2000 family also includes the KUBER-212A, a device suited for use as an edge controller in harsh industrial environments. The KUBER-212A features isolated LANs and COM ports. In addition to the common features, the ultra-small form factor device includes 2x GbE (Intel i210) with isolation and 1x RS-232/422/485 (BIOS configurable, 5V and 12V selectable) with isolation. Meanwhile, the KUBER-212B serves as an automated guided vehicle (AGV) controller or manager. It features an extended Controller Area Network (CAN) bus, LANs and GPIOs. Besides the common features, this ultra-small form factor device includes: 1x Mini-PCIe/mSATA, 1x M.2 Key E 2230 for expansion (such as storage, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth), 2x GbE (Intel i210), 1x CANbus and 4x GPIO.
Other KUBER-2000 family devices include the KUBER-212D—an Ethernet-powered IoT device, the KUBER-212E—an IoT gateway for industrial automation environments, and the KUBER-212G—an IoT gateway with enriched I/Os for expansion.
IIOT SERVICES FRAMEWORK
The basics of IIoT—just as with IoT—include connecting devices and sensors and collecting as much data as possible. But, beyond that, IIoT is also about smart industrial applications that make use of the collected data to improve processes and efficiencies, while reducing environmental resources and costs. Like many other IIoT hardware vendors, Kontron boards and Ethernet switches that serve IIoT connected system needs. But the company also provides some key software and services aimed at IIoT implementations.
According to Kontron, one of the new challenges arising with the use of edge, fog and cloud architectures is the connection of components to each other and to the public cloud. For this, Kontron offers its IoT framework SUSiEtec. SUSiEtec comes from Kontron’s parent company S&T. Within Industry 4.0 applications, SUSiEtec connects all the components and provides analysis and processing of the data generated (Figure 8).
Within Industry 4.0 solution environments, SUSiEtec takes care of the analysis and processing of data incurred. It removes the traditional boundaries between data acquisition, data processing and data provisioning, enabling the integration of IT and OT. The platform is customized to fit the requirements of different applications, and is deployed at the boundary between sensors and cloud. It provides the necessary link between devices, translates protocols, filters data and processes them on site if and when needed.
SUSiEtec can be configured flexibly and adapts to existing automation solutions to collect and analyze telemetry- and sensor data on site, to cope with rising demand for cloud bandwidth and storage. With Microsoft announcing the general availability of Microsoft Azure IoT Edge, Kontron and S&T Technologies offer comprehensive Microsoft Azure IoT Edge integration and customization services based on SUSiEtec. This provides an end-to-end IoT solution that enables IIoT implementation developers to build scalable and powerful edge computing solutions with Microsoft Azure.
AWS IOT CORE SUPPORT
Like Kontron, Eurotech is also a company that makes a variety of computing hardware for IIoT applications while also providing an IoT framework solution. Eurotech’s platform is called Everyware Software Framework (ESF). The enterprise-ready IoT edge framework ESF is a high-level, multi-platform, and flexible application development environment for edge computers and IoT gateways. ESF connects and interfaces with field devices thanks to its ready-to-use field protocol libraries. Field data can be processed at the edge through rich Java APIs or a web-based visual programming environment. The resulting data can be published and delivered to leading IoT Cloud Services such as Everyware Cloud (Eurotech IoT Integration Platform), Eclipse Kapua, AWS IoT and Azure IoT.
Everyware Software Framework bridges the physical world to the digital world. It encapsulates field devices and data sources into a common model. For each field device, a digital twin is created. The twin can be incorporated into visually composed data flows running on the edge or it can be remotely managed from the cloud. Remote management and monitoring of field devices are therefore made easier.
In April, Eurotech announced the availability of the ESF Cloud Connector for Amazon’s AWS IoT Core. The ESF Cloud Connector for AWS IoT Core is a specific ESF Cloud Connector based on the AWS IoT SDK v2.0. This connector uses the ESF APIs and the AWS IoT SDK to simplify the application development and connectivity to AWS IoT Core. Furthermore, it supports out-of-the-box Device Shadows, allowing the mapping of ESF Assets to AWS IoT Core in a seamless end-to-end integration.
Using the new concepts of Cloud Publisher and Subscriber, ESF perfectly integrate with the AWS IoT Core Things and Shadow features, achieving a perfect Edge to Cloud and Cloud to Edge integration. The ESF Cloud Connector for AWS IoT Core deployment package can be download for free from the Eclipse Marketplace .
HART-IP DEV KIT
As the industrial automation market transitions to the Internet Protocol (IP)-connected era of IIoT, established device protocols are revamping to work with Internet-connected systems. Case in point is the HART protocol. With an installed base over 40 million instruments, HART ranks as one of the dominant communications protocols used in process manufacturing facilities around worldwide.
HART embraced IP in 2009, shortly after the release of the WirelessHART protocol. Now, as low-cost, 2-wire, Ethernet-enabled solutions for field instrumentation get ready to enter the market, FieldComm Group has decided the time is right for HART-IP-enabled wired instruments. FieldComm Group is the owner of the HART communication protocol. In April, the company announced the availability of a software, hardware and services development platform for HART-IP enabled instruments.
Based on the popular Raspberry PI (3B+) system and using GitHub repositories, the HART-IP Developer Kit provides a path for process instrumentation manufacturers to prototype and demonstrate high speed HART- IP instruments with minimal engineering effort (Figure 9). Initially configured to work with power-over-ethernet (PoE) solutions, the developer kit features a replaceable Ethernet module that will be upgraded to support 2-wire Ethernet-APL as components become available in the future.
Planned upgrades also include incorporation of FieldComm Group’s OPC UA-centric Process Automation Device Information Model (PA-DIM), for interoperability with OPC UA based enterprise applications, as well as support for JSON and XML based DeviceInfo files for use with lightweight IIoT edge gateway solutions.
The HART-IP Developer Kit is currently available to both FieldComm Group members and non-members. The kit includes hardware, software access to a HART-IP server, HART-IP client and a sample EDD as well as instructions and four hours of technical support from FieldComm Group technical staff.
Reference: The ESF Cloud Connector for AWS IoT Core deployment package can be download for free from the Eclipse Marketplace https://marketplace.eclipse.org/content/esf-cloud-connector-aws-iot-core
AAEON | www.aaeon.com
ADLINK Technology | www.adlinktech.com
Advantech | www.advantech.com
American Portwell Technology | www.portwell.com
Axiomtek | us.axiomtek.com
Eurotech | www.eurotech.com
FieldComm Group | www.fieldcommgroup.org
Kontron | www.kontron.com
Moxa | www.moxa.com
Semtech | www.semtech.com
WINSYSTEMS | www.winsystems.com
PUBLISHED IN CIRCUIT CELLAR MAGAZINE • JUNE 2020 #359 – Get a PDF of the issueSponsor this Article
Jeff served as Editor-in-Chief for both LinuxGizmos.com and its sister publication, Circuit Cellar magazine 6/2017—3/2022. In nearly three decades of covering the embedded electronics and computing industry, Jeff has also held senior editorial positions at EE Times, Computer Design, Electronic Design, Embedded Systems Development, and COTS Journal. His knowledge spans a broad range of electronics and computing topics, including CPUs, MCUs, memory, storage, graphics, power supplies, software development, and real-time OSes.