Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) have introduced services and functions to simplify the implementation of cloud-based Industrial IoT solutions. Azure Industrial IoT Platform or AWS IoT SiteWise support standard protocols and interfaces such as OPC UA or MQTT. But what if you’re looking to connect machines, PLCs and devices in a typcial brownfield project? Typically, these product assets do not offer the standard interfaces supported by CSPs. Connecting AWS or Azure based solutions down to the plant floor is far from trivial. Even once you connect the cloud to the production floor, deploying and managing this cloud-to-PLC connection throughout the enterprise is anything but easy.
To overcome these challenges, Softing has partnered with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft® Azure to offer industrial edge connectivity solutions that you can deploy from the AWS or Azure cloud. Using Softing’s connectivity modules for the Industrial Edge, you can then manage and maintain these solutions directly from the cloud — rather than from one-off gateways throughout the plant.
For example, our edgeConnector Siemens module connects Siemens SIMATIC S7-300/400 and S7-1200/1500 controllers, providing access to production data via the OPC Unified Architecture (UA) server and Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT) interfaces for data acquisition, manufacturing parameter analysis and predictive maintenance purposes.
edgeConnector Siemens module uses Docker technology which delivers software applications in self-contained, isolated packages called containers. These containers include not just the software but all its dependencies and configuration files, making them easy to deploy across different computing environments.
Deployed as a docker container, the edgeConnector Siemens module offers many flexible deployment options on devices that run Azure IoT Edge or AWS IoT Greengrass. Using the standardized OPC UA communication, it supports the integration of production data into various management systems like enterprise resource planning (ERP), manufacturing execution systems (MES) and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems. Modules also support the exchange of data with other docker container applications like Microsoft OPC Publisher or AWS IoT SiteWise.
The edgeConnector Siemens module supports local configuration via a simple web interface, as well as remote configuration via the device’s REST API. It stores container images in different online repositories like Docker Hub, Azure Container Registry (ACR) or Amazon Elastic Container Registry (ECR), and each module includes a recipe manager function for writing process data from the cloud to Siemens controllers.
The edgeConnector Siemens module is a highly flexible, state-of-the-art application that you can deploy, adjust, start or stop immediately, increasing production scalability and flexibility. Modules support security standards like Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS), as well as X.509 certificates and data encryption. You can also configure them using docker management systems like the open-source Kubernetes, Azure IoT Edge or AWS IoT Greengrass.
Docker containers like our edgeConnector Siemens module utilize our deep experience with brownfield connectivity with MQTT and OPC UA technology, making this technology available for highly efficient IoT architectures. To explore our docker container solutions and begin a fully functional free trial, visit the product website.