Industrial automation manufacturer and Industrial Internet of Things tools developer Opto 22 today announced a new version of groov, embedding key IIoT technologies MQTT and OPC-UA drivers directly into its industrial edge appliance. Added to the groov View software for web and mobile visualization, and the open-source Node-RED development environment, the new release offers engineers, technicians, and developers a comprehensive set of tools for edge deployment in industrial environments.
These new embedded capabilities are made possible through forging close partnerships with technology providers Inductive Automation and Cirrus Link Solutions, and are part of the Ignition Edge Onboard™ program.
“Partnering is vital to provide everything required for a given IIoT implementation,” said Benson Hougland, Opto 22 VP of Marketing and Product Strategy. “With Inductive Automation and Cirrus Link, we’ve combined proven applications into a single, industrially hardened appliance to address today’s application needs. Visualization, data handling, security, and connectivity are all in one compact box.”
“We’re pleased that Opto 22’s groov is one of the first edge appliances to market with Ignition Edge embedded,” said Don Pearson, Chief Strategy Officer at Inductive Automation. “Opto 22’s reputation for reliable industrial hardware and their interest in the future direction of automation systems made the partnership a natural fit.”
“Working with Opto 22 on drivers and embedding MQTT with Sparkplug has been great,” said Arlen Nipper, President and CTO at Cirrus Link, and co-inventor of the MQTT protocol. “This partnership approach combines a trusted hardware platform with resilient communication architectures for automation and SCADA systems in an extremely efficient and flexible way.”
A typical use case for the new groov edge appliance is gathering data from plant floor devices or from remote plants. A customer places groov near a machine or process, uses the built-in drivers to connect to existing control systems, analyzes the data, and publishes the results back to a central server or broker on premises or in the cloud. Applications like Ignition Enterprise or any MQTT/Sparkplug-compliant software can subscribe to the data.
This scenario eliminates complex networking architectures like VPNs, firewall configurations, and remote desktop software, because all communications to the broker use a secure outbound connection from control systems, whether publishing data or subscribing to it. Additionally, because groov is a complete computing appliance, a PC is not required.
Other use cases for groov:
• A controls technician who needs to see Allen-Bradley CompactLogix™ variables on her smartphone for access from anywhere she is located
• An OEM machine builder whose machine must periodically send operational data to a central location for predictive analysis and machine learning
• A SCADA engineer who needs to efficiently control and acquire data from a large number of geographically dispersed locations over a cellular or other bandwidth-constrained network
• A facilities engineer who needs energy use and HVAC status data transmitted to a cloud database for historical logging
Ignition Edge in the groov appliance includes both a built-in OPC UA server and MQTT module. The built-in OPC UA server includes drivers to popular PLC brands, including Rockwell Automation Allen-Bradley PLCs, Siemens S7 PLCs, and Modbus TCP devices. Other drivers are available at additional cost. Embedding these drivers and OPC UA at the edge eliminates the cost and complexity of commissioning and maintaining a Microsoft Windows-based computer for translating PLC and device data to OPC UA, the only method available until now.
MQTT is a bi-directional, lightweight event- and message-oriented transport protocol with a publish/subscribe architecture. This architecture decouples devices from applications, allowing users to reduce reliance on traditional IT networking resources. MQTT’s pub/sub architecture also reduces network traffic, because data is published and sent only when it changes. Supported over the MQTT transport is Sparkplug, a freely available, MQTT-based payload definition for industrial applications, which greatly simplifies implementation by defining topic namespaces and payload, and managing the state of devices in the field.
Ignition Edge embedded into the groov edge appliance also allows Inductive Automation customers to extend their Ignition platform to the edge with optional Panel and Edge Enterprise Administration licenses, available directly from Inductive Automation.
Originally launched in April 2013, the groov edge appliance is an industrially hardened computer appliance used for visualization, data handling, and connectivity. For visualization, groov View makes it easy to create secure, scalable operator interfaces for mobile devices and web browsers on any computing platform. For data handling, groov includes Node-RED, an IoT application builder that connects to data sources locally and in the cloud, manipulates that data, and publishes the data to anywhere. The groov edge appliance was designed for security from the ground up, with communications to the appliance over two independent Ethernet interfaces protected by TLS encryption and user authentication. All configuration of the appliance is securely managed by the included groov Admin utility.