by Leslie Langnau, Managing Editor
In some respects, the Internet of Things is still heavy on the buzz and promotion and light on actual products that help design engineers. A few helpful aids are emerging.
Vendors continue to promote the need of and benefits for more connectivity to the Internet of Things (IoT) or the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Potential users have noticed, however, that they need additional support software and equipment to fulfill the promise of the IoT of better products and greater productivity.
Thus, vendors are beginning to introduce products that will help with the analytics as well as the connectivity needed to take greater advantage of the concept of IoT.
Connecting disparate systems
Digital communication using a fieldbus or Industrial Ethernet is already widely used in modern production plants and is an important building block for increasing productivity. The demand for intelligent communication will continue to increase because of Industry 4.0 and IoT.
However, the legacy mix of fieldbuses and Industrial Ethernet standards poses the problem that devices and machines of different communication systems are in themselves unable to exchange data. This inability of machines to exchange data with each other will either force machine builders to equip their machines with different networks, or limit a customer’s selection of suitable machines. Thus, part of the drive behind the IoT is to overcome the growing need for manufacturer-specific transfer specifications and complicated custom converters.
The CC-Link Partner Association (CLPA) and PI (Profibus and Profinet International) are collaborating to promote the use of open industrial networks, such as CC-Link IE and Profinet.
CLPA and PI aim to enable transparent and easy bi-directional communication between CC-Link IE and Profinet devices through standard interfaces. A joint working group is being established to develop the necessary technical specifications to achieve this goal. When work on the specifications is complete, it will be available to members of both organizations for implementation.
“This will give users more flexibility when building their IIoT, Industry 4.0, or e-F@ctory enabled systems,” said Naomi Nakamura, Global Director of CLPA.
Other network developers are pursuing a similar course.
The need for diagnostic software
Part of the attraction of the IoT is the potential for better diagnostics, especially for machine components. Sensors will certainly help with the data collection. But good algorithms are imperative for operation and performance analysis.
Beckhoff Automation, for example, offers TwinCAT Analytics. This software includes online and offline condition analysis, predictive maintenance, pattern recognition, machine optimization and long-term data archiving. One of the key features of this program is that it stores all process-relevant data in a cycle-synchronous manner. Data are stored in a standard process data format with data compression, either locally in the controller, in a cloud-based system on a server or in a public cloud, as required.
TwinCAT Analytics provides a temporal image of the manufacturing process and the production data for an information baseline for condition analysis of the machines. Recorded process and production data can be analyzed online or offline. Machine cycles can be examined for minimum, maximum and average values of the cycle times. Total runtimes and time differences of production processes can be gleaned from cycle counters or offline trace analyses.
Another benefit claim made by proponents of the IoT is how this data will be available to help engineers optimize the design of a machine or system. In TwinCAT Analytics, for example, status analysis gives information that can help engineers optimize a machine or system in terms of energy consumption or process sequence. In addition, detailed knowledge of all processes simplifies configuration of drives, for example, and it may be used to reduce the connected load of machines based on measurement readings.
The TwinCAT 3 software helps address the need for seamless and cycle-synchronous data acquisition necessary for predictive analytics. When the IoT matures, data on machine processing errors will enable designers to reduce or eliminate excessive costs and lost production time.
Of course all of this connectivity increases the risk of stealing data or hacking into corporate systems. Some companies and developers take security very seriously. The ODVA is one organization that does take it seriously and has recently announced it will publish a new volume in its specifications specifically dedicated to cybersecurity. This body of work will be released under the name of CIP Security and will join the family of other CIP services. CIP Security will be initially applicable for Ethernet/IP implementations.
Because Ethernet/IP relies on commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies, users have been able to deploy traditional defense-in-depth techniques in Ethernet/IP systems for some time. In 2011, ODVA published “Securing Ethernet/IP Networks.” CIP Security will help users take additional steps to protect their industrial control systems with industry proven techniques for securing transport of messages between Ethernet/IP devices and systems and thus reduce their exposure to cybersecurity threats.
The initial release of CIP Security includes mechanisms to address spoofing of identity, tampering with data and disclosing of information. Mechanisms supported in the initial release include device authorization, integrity of message transport and confidentiality of messages. ODVA has adapted encryption standards from the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) for encryption based on Transport Layer Security (TLS), Data Transport Layer Security (DTLS) and authentication based on the X.509v3 standard for certificate handling.
“The publication of the volume dedicated to cybersecurity in the Ethernet/IP specification is the next step in providing users with methods to help them manage threats and vulnerabilities in Ethernet/IP systems,” said Katherine Voss, ODVA president and executive director. “Following this publication will be the realization of the mechanisms provided by CIP Security in ODVA Conformant Ethernet/IP products.”
ODVA’s focus on cybersecurity is not only a function of increased emphasis on cybersecurity for industrial control systems but also because of the widespread adoption of Ethernet/IP in a range of applications from manufacturing to critical infrastructure. As a result of the breadth of applications, the next edition of the Ethernet/IP specification will expand support for IEC 62439-3 “Industrial communication networks—high availability automation networks—part 3” to include High Availability Seamless Redundancy (HSR) in addition to Parallel Redundancy Protocol (PRP). HSR is commonly used in electrical substation automation as specified in IEC-61850. Other high reliability techniques supported in the Ethernet/IP specification include Rapid Spanning Tree (RSTP) and Device Level Ring (DLR).
Moxa offers a data acquisition system that brings greater versatility for the IoT applications. Its ioLogik 2542-WL1 and ioLogik 2512-WL1 feature 802.11a/b/g WiFi connectivity, which will serve the growing number of devices and M2M applications that require wireless communication. The ioLogik 2542-WL1 supports analog I/O connections over Wi-Fi, whereas the ioLogik 2512-WL1 supports digital I/O connections over WiFi.
“We want to make it as easy as possible for industrial users to collect and share sensor data in different environments and circumstances,” said Wenyuan Niu, product marketing manager. “WiFi is becoming a useful and popular mode of communication both on the factory floor and in remote locations.”
Both ioLogik units feature automatic tag generation and reporting for connected sensors and devices. These features enable operators to monitor a large number of field devices efficiently. Data communication is protected with security (WPA2/802.11i), and features advanced encryption and authentication.
CC-Link Partner Association
Filed Under: Design World articles, Networks • connectivity • fieldbuses