A primary benefit of digitalisation is improved decision-making. This comes from having access to qualified data. The problem that many businesses look to solve, however, is how that data is collected and processed so that it becomes informative and useful – especially when there are large volumes of it.
According to Freddie Coertze, national IoT manager for ifm Australia, this is why the moneo digital solution can act as a middleware with an edge layer.
“When we say middleware, we’re talking about a software layer that facilitates communication and integration between different applications, devices and systems,” he explains. “And when we talk about edge computing in the context of collecting data and Internet of Things (IoT), we’re talking about processing large amounts of data near to where it is collected, which means it’s not clogging up networks or interfering with latency. Our digital solution, moneo, offers this – it can serve as a middleware with a soft edge.”
What does this mean in plain English? Freddie uses an example to explain.
“We have a large mining client who use our sensors to collect raw data, but they don’t want to push that raw data directly into their higher level maintenance platform, as it would use up a lot of space and take them a lot of time to qualify that information,” he says. “With moneo, which has an in-built data science tool, it has the ability to filter the data, and with applied analytics on the edge, translates this data into readable and actionable information. Then it is sent to that upper platform. So in that context, moneo is acting as a middleware on the edge.”
Why is the edge necessary?
“It’s just more efficient,” says Freddie. “Edge computing helps businesses optimise operations by processing data near to the source rather than continuously sending it to a platform in the cloud. It also adds a security layer – which is important when we consider that most factory operations and automation systems haven’t been exposed to external threats before the event of digitalisation.”
Moreover, ifm’s moneo edgeConnect communication interface software can turn any PC into an edge device.
“Basically this is a software component that will load onto a PC so it empowers you to make any PC an edge device. You could put these in several points around your facility or plant,” says Freddie. “It can qualify data near the source and send the results to the top platform.”
In fact, moneo edgeConnect is designed to facilitate interoperability by building a bridge between production and automation systems (OT) with internal information systems and cloud platforms (IT).
“This is a big deal for businesses, because it gives visibility across the whole operation – from the shop floor to the top floor,” says Freddie. “Importantly, moneo enables outgoing data transfer to the cloud platforms Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure as well as third-part systems via an MQTT or OPC-UA server.”