Many manufacturers are eager to tap the power of big data in order to increase competitiveness, improve the bottom line, and anticipate trends. They are exploring the Internet of Things (IoT), which facilitates communications between all types of field devices and enables manufacturers to act upon decisions derived from data analytics. However, a major challenge is gaining access to field data, made more difficult by field devices that use different fieldbus protocols, run independently, or lack connectivity.
Helping to overcome communication barriers amongst various field devices, including machinery, robots, PLCs, and sensors, NEXCOM CPS Gateway NISE/NIFE series, as shown in figure 1 provide cross-protocol communication capabilities, among many others, help manufacturers increase operations efficiency, reduce maintenance costs, and improve the bottom line and competitiveness.
NEXCOM NISE/NIFE series communicate downstream to manufacturing modules over various fieldbus protocols and upstream to an on-premise SCADA system or to the cloud (or data center) via LAN, Wi-Fi, or 3G/4G networks. At the same time, it supports serial communication and fieldbus protocols to devices, allowing it to aggregate all types of downstream data. Given the fact that different communication protocols are used from factory to factory, the NISE/NIFE series can interface to different types of fieldbus modules and support many fieldbus protocols, including PROFINET, PROFIBUS, EtherNet/IP, DeviceNet, EtherCAT, CANopen, and Modbus. This capability enables the NISE/NIFE series to act as a fieldbus data concentrator and provide the last-mile connection for field automation devices. As a result, manufacturers can build a Factory-of-Things that integrates PLCs, remote I/Os, and legacy field devices across different control subsystems, and sends field data to the cloud for big data analytics and remote monitoring of factory operations.
|Figure 1. An integrated IoT controller and on-machine vision system must provide high-speed imaging and analysis, highly synchronized control and monitoring, and IoT gateway functionality.|
Addressing the computation, communication, and control requirements in manufacturing, these embedded computing platforms integrate the power-efficient Intel® Atom™/Core™ processors. The multi-core architecture of Intel® Atom™ and Core™ processors equips the NISE/NIFE series with ample computing performance to collect and process input data and command field devices to take appropriate actions. The NISE/NIFE series are available with up to quad-core computing power to accelerate response time, control a large volume of field devices, and perform more complicated control schemes.
The NISE/NIFE series may run the Intel software stack, developed in collaboration with McAfee and Wind River. These series can connect to legacy and new industrial devices, thereby enabling seamless and secure data flow between field devices and the cloud. The Intel software stack integrates technologies and protocols for networking, embedded control, enterprise-grade security, and manageability on which application-specific software can run.
Open standard infrastructure and IoT technologies from NEXCOM can help manufacturers achieve their major objectives:
NEXCOM NISE/NIFE series are designed to be the conduit between the physical world and the cyber world. The physical world consists of cyber-physical systems (CPS), which refers to a new generation of systems with integrated computational and physical capabilities that can interact with human processes in new ways (e.g., augmented reality, wearable devices). The NISE/NIFE series provide the interoperability necessary for CPS and set up a solid foundation for Factory-of-Things operations, transforming a factory to a Smart Factory without a costly overhaul. CPS systems are typically closed, but through the use of IoT technologies that provide a cyber-physical bridge, these systems can connect to the cyber world. The ability to interact with and expand the capabilities of the physical world through computation, communication, and control is a key enabler for future technology development.
In addition to providing connectivity, the NISE/NIFE series have sufficient computational power to run control and analytic workloads, reducing the amount of data that needs to be sent to the cloud for processing. When employed in pharmaceutical manufacturing, for example, the NISE/NIFE series can monitor the pressure level of a reactor when binding agents are added to deliver a drug in pill or tablet form. As soon as the pressure reaches a certain level, the NISE/NIFE series can close inlet valves and activate a motor to spin an impeller to start the blending process. All is done automatically without manual effort.
Factory staff is typically on the go, which means they can be more productive if they can manage factory devices from a smartphone or other mobile device. With this in mind, the NISE/NIFE series are available with a mobile HMI App JMobile, which provides remote access to real-time monitoring and control of factory operation. Starting a new manufacturing process only takes a few taps on a mobile device. Instead of being confined to desks in a factory control room, staff members can check a field device connected to the NISE/NIFE series – anytime, anywhere.