Paving the Way towards Industry 4.0: The Swisscom IoT-Cloud
The first blog post from the series IIoT@Swisscom gave a brief description about the IIoT A3 method. The method that helps our customer on their journey towards Industry 4.0. This time, the focus will be on the acquire part of the A3 method, giving a short introduction to one of the major building blocks for industrial-IoT, the Swisscom IoT-Cloud.
A3 Method in the Smart Enterprise Landscape
Recapitulating the A3 method from the last blog entry, it helps to integrate a product, for example a production machine, into the manufactures business processes. Usually the machine is on customers premises, functioning mostly isolated from the supplier. Using industrial-IoT and the A3 method, the machine can be made smart to extract either condition data or business data from it. These data help to gain insights about the machine, which then can be forwarded into the manufacturer’s backend system to improve the manufacturing process, the business model or the customer experience.
Swisscom IoT-Cloud Suite
The IoT-Cloud suite plays a pivotal role in the acquire process for industrial solutions. It consists of a cloud platform and toolsets for the end-to-end data transfer, from the machine into the backend. It is one of the most advanced IoT platform due to the vast amount of provided cloud features and toolsets (e.g. drivers).
The Swisscom IoT-Cloud suite is based on the Telit deviceWise IoT platform, but Swisscom is running an own instance in their datacenter, offering tailored solutions and higher data security for the swiss industry.
The three major features of the IoT-Cloud suite are data acquisition, device management and data hub.
The IoT-Cloud suite offers different possibilities to extract data from a machine and to forward them to the cloud platform. The easiest way is to use Telit gateway applications. But it is also possible to develop custom applications based on libraries, such as Python and C, or based on APIs, such as REST. It is even possible to develop custom hardware using Telit cellular modules that have an AT command based IoT core integrated.
Telit Asset Gateway (AGW)
The Asset Gateway (AGW) is an application which is usually installed on cellular routers that are connected to machines. It supports more than a thousand different industrial protocols and drivers, such as BACnet or Siemens, to communicate with machines and to read out the programmable logic controller (PLC) registers. Using the edge logic tools, the register data can be transformed to meaningful data and then forwarded to the IoT-Cloud. Three different types of data classes can be transferred to the cloud, properties, attributes and alarms. Depending on the protocol and the driver, the edge logic tools also allow to control the machine by writing to PLC registers.
The connection between the router and the machine is usually established using Ethernet or Serial interface. Note that the AGW is not only limited to cellular routers, also wired routers, proxy gateways and basically any Linux or Windows based systems are supported.
Telit Enterprise Gateway (EGW)
Apart from the functionalities of an AGW, the Telit Enterprise Gateway (EGW) also offers enterprise bus transports, such as SQL database. It is usually installed on a server in production site, enabling it to access PLC registers or databases on multiple machines.
The IoT-Cloud offers powerful device management tools for the devices running the gateway applications that connect to the machines. In addition to the remote monitoring features for the device and the machine, it is possible to upgrade the AGW or the EGW on all devices at once with just a few clicks. In the same manner, the edge logic for the register data evaluation/transformation can be modified.
Another feature is the possibility to trigger an edge logic from the cloud, allowing direct access to the machine.
The IoT-Cloud is not a data storage, but rather a data hub that forwards the data to preferred analytics tools or enterprise backend. There are connectors offered to various cloud and non-cloud services, such as Microsoft Azure or Slack. For not listed services, the connection can be established using an http(s) request or an mqtt publish.
The data can also be forwarded to an EGW which then injects them directly into an enterprise backend, such as SAP ERP.
The Swisscom IoT-Cloud suite offers a vast amount of toolsets for the industry and in this respect, it is one of the most advanced IoT cloud solution on the market. Using the native drivers in order to let the devices and applications talk to one another, custom programming can be eliminated. Hence the time to connect the factory to the enterprise and the value chain can be signifcantly reduced, leading to a faster efficiency improvement and value creation.
This blog entry only presented only the major features of the Swisscom IoT-Cloud suite, for detailed information don’t hesitate to contact the author or refer to the following website: www.swisscom.ch/de/business/enterprise/angebot/iot.html
My previous post about IIoT@Swisscom can be found here.