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Make Your OT, IT, IIoT Protocol Interoperability Easier for Industry 4.0

Apr 24, 2017

  • Product News

Brea, California, Apr 24, 2017—Facing numerous challenges in smart factories, system integrators (SIs) are always on the lookout for solutions that make the interoperability of operational technology (OT), information technology (IT), and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) protocols straightforward. Moxa is one of the few product manufacturers and solution providers to offer a comprehensive product portfolio that streamlines the interoperability of OT, IT, and IIoT protocols.

Depending on the specific operation, SIs usually encounter a large variety of disparate automation protocols that must be connected to achieve the operation’s operational goals. For example, the OT world—which encompasses manufacturing execution systems (MESs), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, programmable logic controllers (PLCs), meters, valves, sensors and motors, etc.—mostly uses protocols such as PROFINET, PROFIBUS, EtherNet/IP, and Modbus. IT systems include an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system that runs SNMP, HTTP, SOAP, and XML protocols. In addition, the mainstream protocols for the adoption of the IIoT or Industry 4.0 are MQTT, AMQP, and CoAP. “In spite of this multitude of protocols that are not interoperable with each other, there is good news. Solutions are available to bridge these interoperability gaps through a variety of technologies,’’ says Edward Lin, product manager at Moxa.

Quick Implementation Across Heterogeneous Networks

The growing complexity of operations processes has become a major challenge for smart manufacturing companies. Installation and setup require more time to plan the architecture and perform device commissioning. For example, in an electricity room, bridging a large number of Modbus RTU power meters to a Modbus TCP network is extremely time-consuming due to the configuration of the slave ID routing table. Moxa’s patented auto device routing function automatically detects the commands from a SCADA system and sets up the slave ID routing table with one-click configuration. Moreover, Moxa’s protocol gateways easily convert protocols between Modbus, PROFIBUS, PROFINET, and Ethernet/IP with its user-friendly GUI, cutting down the configuration time by 70% and requiring no programming. Moreover, in the Industry 4.0 era, IT departments face an increasing demand to collect production data from shop floors in order to optimize production. For IT staff, this is not an easy task as they are not familiar with the process of collecting data via industrial protocols. Moxa’s smart I/O supports various protocols—such as Modbus/TCP and EtherNet/IP for industrial automation (IA) engineers, and SNMP and RESTful API for IT engineers—to allow communications with different interfaces, bridging the divide between OT and IT. This solution makes it possible for both IT and IA engineers to conveniently retrieve data from the same I/O device.

IIoT-Ready Platform for Rapid Industry 4.0 Deployment

In boardrooms, executives expect data mining and analytics to pay dividends in reduced operation costs, optimized production, and predictive maintenance to minimize downtime. However, sending data from an edge device to the cloud is time-consuming for most manufacturers. Moxa's UC-8100 is an embedded computing platform designed for large-scale, IIoT-edge-computing applications. It features an ARM® Cortex™-A8 processor and versatile communication interfaces. Coupled with Moxa's ThingsPro Suite, it enables fast integration from the devices in the field to the cloud with the integrated, ready-to-run Modbus polling engine and IIoT clients, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Increased Situational Awareness Between the Field Sites and Control Room

Situational awareness is very important for operators in both the field and control room in order to ensure continuous production and to prevent abnormal situations. However, to capture abnormal events on the shop floor and then interpret the information about these perceived events in real time is quite challenging. Moxa is one of the few solution providers that provide easy integration between OT and IT system networks. For example, it’s very time-consuming for engineers to search through recorded video clips and pinpoint the root cause of a specific exception. Moxa provides a coding-free Video Gadget tool that shows video images on SCADA within only 15 minutes instead of using the ActiveX SDK for programming on the SCADA for two or three hours. Furthermore, Moxa’s IP video devices, including IP cameras and NVRs, support Modbus TCP and SNMP commands for easy device management in SCADA systems, allowing for a fast response when an emergency occurs. In addition, for production line networks running on OT protocols, Moxa’s Ethernet switches support PROFINET, Modbus, and EtherNet/IP protocols to allow engineers to view data and the status of a network in a central site on a SCADA system. A quick and simplified SCADA integration speeds up troubleshooting, reduces system downtime, and increases situational awareness.

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Also read this white paper to learn more about the plant manager’s guide to IIoT connectivity.

About Moxa

Moxa is a leader in edge connectivity, industrial computing, and network infrastructure solutions for enabling connectivity for the Industrial Internet of Things. With over 35 years of industry experience, Moxa has connected more than 102 million devices worldwide and has a distribution and service network to serve customers in more than 85 countries.

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