Traditionally, industrial plants have relied on on-site data collection and local systems to gain insights into their production processes. But this approach is no longer sufficient for companies that wish to have better visibility over their operations – especially when operations are spread over multiple sites.
“We’ve seen a shift in industry towards cloud-based platforms to access and interpret data from assets that are strewn across different sites,” explains ifm Australia’s national IoT business manager, Freddie Coertze. “Yet this comes with its own set of challenges.”
According to Coertze, the three top challenges that cloud-based systems present are: security, latency and data buffering due to large volumes of data being streamed from distant locations.
“Essentially this is what we aimed to solve with our edgeConnect tool – an add-on tool to our moneo Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) platform,” he says. “With this solution, we can collect data from the whole plant, move it safely to the edge – or closer to its source – apply some analytics, and then just send the most important information up to the plant’s top platform.”
To unpack this explanation better, Coertze uses the example of a mining client.
“In this context, our client said, ‘look we have an issue, we have multiple, scattered assets that we need to collect data from – how can we do this safely and effectively?’,” he recalls. “We were able to solve this issue for them. First, the latency and data buffering, because we have a device that is located close to the source of data, so information doesn’t have to travel far. Second, because moneo has in-built analytics it pre-qualifies the data, only sending what is important to the cloud. Third, the edgeConnect tool uses encryption and because it is located on the edge, it keeps information secure.”
Importantly, Coertze says that the moneo solution and its edgeConnect tool are simple to use, and that a factory or plant can start benefitting from this solution the instant they install it.
“It’s very straightforward. Any moneo customer can easily activate this module, allowing them to securely send data to a cloud platform,” he concludes. “Essentially, the edgeConnect module functions as a soft device or tool that can be installed on any PC, and it powers up the PC to be an edge device.”