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MARCH 2017

How the
Internet of

A Quarterly Supplement of
Things Makes
Manufacturers
Smart and
Connected

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2
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Industrial Internet of Things


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3

MARCH 2017
05 How the Internet of Things Makes Manufacturers Smart and Connected

Making Modbus Data Available on the Internet of Things

Industrial Internet of Things


09

18 Ethernet and Industrial Communications: Whats Going On?

25 Communications Is Key for Automation and Inspection Applications

35 Why Collaboration Is the Key to IIoT

41 Node-RED Stitches the IIoT Together

ETHERNET SENSORS CONTROL INTEROPERABILITY INTELLIGENCE


MARCH 2017 Industrial Internet of Things
4
5

How the Internet of Things Makes

MARCH 2017
Manufacturers Smart and Connected
BY TERRI HISKEY
Vice president of product marketing, Epicor

Industrial Internet of Things


The continuous intelligence that can be delivered
to manufacturers about their products via the
Internet of Things has put OEMs in a position to
take advantage of new market opportunities.

U ntil recently, manufacturers only had to worry about designing,


manufacturing, selling and servicing their products. But we are
living in a different time now, and wise manufacturers know they
need to change to keep up.

It is not enough to only be a manufacturercustomers want more


out of their key relationships, and they want the ability to optimize
and maximize the performance of whatever product they purchase.
These customers are looking to manufacturers to provide an added
level of technology, enabled by the Internet of Things (IoT), that
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CONTINUED

MARCH 2017
enables users to track and analyze usage, whether the product is a
How the Internet tire, an air conditioner or refrigerator.
of Things Makes This means that manufacturers not only have to worry about having
Manufacturers to design such capabilities into their products; they also need to
Smart and consider how IoT technology can help improve and optimize their
Connected own manufacturing processes.

Industrial Internet of Things


As prices of communication equipment and sensors continue to
drop, smart manufacturers will be able to gather information from
a wide range of devices. With connectivity enabled via IoT, these
devices will be able to send valuable information back to the seller
or manufacturer. For example, a refrigerator could send a signal to
the manufacturer indicating a detected malfunction. With this data,
the manufacturer would be able to put in measures to prevent the
problem in other products in the line. In another example, an air
conditioner might be able to detect when it needs maintenance and
send a message to the manufacturer, which can then initiate remote
maintenance service. As a result, the customer will be happier and
the manufacturer can save on the cost of doing business.
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MARCH 2017
Manufacturers that can extract full value from data gathered via
How the Internet IoT can position themselves to take advantage of new market
of Things Makes opportunities. The data collected by billions of things and devices
Manufacturers can be used to deliver new services or drive innovation that can
Smart and help organizations differentiate themselves from the competition. In
Connected addition, manufacturers can also connect their supply chain systems

Industrial Internet of Things


to smart devices so they can gain better visibility and control over
their extended manufacturing operations.

Customer experience is something that most manufacturers struggle


with, but smart manufacturers understand that intelligent devices
can reveal vital information, enabling them to drastically improve
their customer service. Customers are also increasingly seeking
personalized experiences with their manufacturers and suppliers.
Modern manufacturing enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems,
integrated with IoT, can often provide insight to deliver that
personalized experience. IoT offers manufacturers a huge opportunity
to improve their customer service and lower the cost of production,
driving higher margins.
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CONTINUED

MARCH 2017
In IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Manufacturing 2017 Predictions,
How the Internet IDC states: Manufacturers are trying to accelerate the speed at
of Things Makes which they operate, without adding risks to their ability to serve
Manufacturers their customers and maintain corporate standards, including
Smart and product quality. With the proliferation of sensors and IoT throughout
Connected operations and in connected products, manufacturers can achieve

Industrial Internet of Things


visibility with greater ease and affordability than ever before.

Manufacturers use of IoT has gone beyond the nice to have


phase, and is squarely in the must have phase. A comprehensive
IoT strategy needs to be in place in order to survive.
9

Making Modbus Data Available

MARCH 2017
on the Internet of Things
BY TIM TABERNER
Technical sales director, B+B SmartWorx

Industrial Internet of Things


An energy efficiency project at the University
of Galway offers Internet of Things lessons for
industrial companies using Modbus communications.

T he University of Ireland in Galway (NIUG) takes energy


consumption seriously. The school is certified for ISO 50001,
the international energy management standard for efficient energy
usage. It was also the first university in Ireland to join the Sustainable
Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and the Sustainable Energy
Community (SEC) network.

As part of its ongoing effort to improve energy efficiency, NIUG


approached Optimised Energy Controls about the possibility of
gathering data from the schools legacy HVAC control systems
and providing it to modern Internet of Things (IoT) applications for
functions like running reports, applying analytics and setting alerts.
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MARCH 2017
The existing control system was Modbus-based. The Modbus slaves
Making Modbus reported only to the Modbus masters, and NIUG wanted to make
Data Available the data portable. But, like many looking to pull data from closed
on the Internet systems, the practical realities were considerable.
of Things
The most common solution offered was installing new Modbus masters

Industrial Internet of Things


with the ability to convert Modbus data into MQTT and feeding it to
analytics software. But installing new Modbus masters would have
been prohibitively expensive, and NIUG didnt want to risk disrupting
the existing network. The direct costs of making this change could
have easily offset the benefits of energy savings. In addition to the
direct costs, making changes could have led to unexpected problems,
such as downtime and all of the costs associated with maintenance
and inconvenience to students and faculty.

Efficient energy management has been part of corporate green


initiatives for years, but many energy-saving options were not practical
on legacy systems like Modbus. Sometimes, automation systems can
be configured or designed to transmit data in their native languages
(like Modbus) to outside systems, but even then the data is in a cryptic,
difficult-to-understand format. To solve the problem with NIUG,
Optimised Energy Controls needed to offer a solution that provided
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CONTINUED

MARCH 2017
the data in an understandable format to analytics software (Unitron)
Making Modbus without disrupting the existing Modbus masters.
Data Available
on the Internet At the time, B+B SmartWorx had been developing a new device
of Things for IoT initiatives based on the premise of a non-disruptive
overlay network that captured, translated and enriched data from

Industrial Internet of Things


automation systems and transferred it to analytics platforms.
SmartSwarm 351 was the first purpose-built IoT gateway from the
development team. It was designed to eavesdrop on the existing
network, translate the data, and transfer it to enterprise analytics.
With the support of Optimised Energy Controls, NIUG agreed to
be the beta site for the product launch.

SmartSwarm 351 acts like a fully functional gateway via options like
Ethernet or cellular, taking care of all the hardware complexities and
potential issues of an unattended communication system that you
dont have time to become an expert on, including:
Session awareness
Connection reestablishment
Connection rerouting
Multiple geographies
Data optimization
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MARCH 2017
SmartSwarm 351 quickly discovers all the devices on the Modbus
Making Modbus networkeven if there are some that the customer is not aware of.
Data Available Once it captures the data from the supervisory control and data
on the Internet acquisition (SCADA) system, it adds the necessary layers to convert
of Things this device-specific poll-response into the decoupled, event-driven
model needed by IT.

Industrial Internet of Things


Illustration of how SmartSwarm
351 connects to and monitors
a Modbus network.
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MARCH 2017
As you know, raw SCADA data is of little use within an IT system
Making Modbus because it can be interpreted only with detailed knowledge of the
Data Available source device and its register map.
on the Internet
of Things The key to an effective system requires the data to be enriched
(translated) in real time as it is being sent to IT, providing contextualized,

Industrial Internet of Things


self-defining and semantically searchable data understandable by
anyone without SCADA knowledge. SmartSwarm 351 accomplishes
this by providing a default scheme where topics and value ranges
are based upon SCADA terminology but crucially allows users to
substitute their own topic space definitions and value ranges for
each recovered point.

Rather than replacing an existing Modbus master, SmartSwarm 351


simply listens on the Modbus control bus. It is invisible to the Modbus
network, which continues to function exactly as it always has. At no
time will data of any kind flow back into the existing system.

SmartSwarm 351 converts the Modbus data to the IoT-ready MQTT


protocol, making it easily consumable for upstream IoT applications.
It also filters the data to make network communications more
efficient. Modbus slaves will inevitably produce a steady stream of
data, but SmartSwarm only passes along data that has value, like a
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MARCH 2017
temperature parameter that has exceeded a predefined threshold.
Making Modbus Multiple controlling applications can then subscribe to the MQTT
Data Available data, receiving only the data that is relevant to the specific application.
on the Internet
of Things During the beta testing, feedback from the engineers on site at
NIUG helped B+B engineers streamline the simple web interface

Industrial Internet of Things


setup. Now users can connect SmartSwarm 351 into the operation
systems controlling device and then the larger business network.
The master operations device wont know its there and isnt affected
by it. The user then identifies the data wanted from the real-time
working asset, does a one-time upload of the data definitions from
the existing systems documentation so real-time data gets translated
automatically, and defines meaningful data events so analytics gets
only the data needed. With Optimised Energy Controls expertise,
SmartSwarm 351 filters were used to control the flow of data into
Unitron, limiting the possibility of excessive data overload and
resource cost on the IT side. These filters include things like:
Digital change of state.
An analog moving outside of an alarm threshold.
Having a rate change above a value or having moved by more
than a dead band from the value last published.
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MARCH 2017
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MARCH 2017
Filters also exist to generate publish triggers on a time or scheduled
Making Modbus basis, or to control what is published.
Data Available
on the Internet All inbound wide area network (WAN) connections are protected by
of Things SmartSwarms internal firewall. Outbound connections to SmartWorx
Hub (SmartSwarms remote configuration tool) and the remote MQTT

Industrial Internet of Things


broker are authenticated and encrypted using TLS, with certificate
authentication. It also inherently offers features for firewalling, unit
identification and VPN tunneling.

The collaboration of Unitron, B+B SmartWorx and NIUG provided


a practical, non-disruptive solution for capturing, analyzing and
optimizing energy management from the universitys Modbus control
systems. Over the past year, the university has centralized on using
SmartSwarm, and Optimised Energy Control continues to work
with them on maximizing analytics information. The collaborative
experience also provided B+B SmartWorx with real-world customer
input and refinements to the products performance.
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MARCH 2017
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Industrial Internet of Things


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Ethernet and Industrial

MARCH 2017
Communications: Whats Going On?
BY MICHAEL BOWNE
Executive director, PI North America

Industrial Internet of Things


Its been hard to miss all the activity going on recently
around Time-Sensitive Networking and OPC UA. Heres what
it means for the near-term future of industrial networking.

T here is a lot of talk going on in industrial automation


surrounding two genuinely exciting topics: Time-Sensitive
Networking (TSN) and OPC UA. Why? Its because these two
technologies seemingly have the potential to make industrial
automation easier, more transparent and more valuable than
ever. You might be thinking, Yeah, Ive heard that before. But
maybe things are different this time. Maybe.

Lets start with TSN. Its difficult to describe what TSN is without
the discussion becoming very technical, very quickly. But at its
core, TSN is essentially an attempt to make standard Ethernet
more deterministic.
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MARCH 2017
An excellent analogy to help explain TSN can be found in telephones.
Ethernet and Originally, end-to-end telephone connections were made directly
Industrial via exchanges. The result was a direct connection between you
Communications: and the person on the other end of the line. With the advent of
Whats Going On? cellphones, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and the Internet in
general, telephone connections are now made with little packets of

Industrial Internet of Things


your conversation traversing the network. This has enabled incredible
flexibility and scalability, but at the occasional cost of call quality.

TSN aims to merge the old with the new by reintroducing end-to-end
connections between Ethernet-connected devices into the packet
switching networks (e.g., Internet) used today. Such a merger would
allow for highly deterministic communication between TSN-enabled
devices using standard Ethernet chips.

Unlike TSN, OPC UA is well understood by many engineers in industrial


automation. On top of that, the OPC Foundation is undergoing a bit
of a renaissance with its OPC UA technology. Whats been the cause
for this renaissance? The reason is OPC UAs ability to solve many of
the communication problems associated with implementing Industry
4.0 and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solutions.
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MARCH 2017
In the past, OPC relied on COM/DCOM for communication, which
Ethernet and meant it depended on the Windows platform. With OPC UA,
Industrial however, the technology is platform-independent and can be scaled
Communications: to run on embedded devices all the way up to cloud infrastructures.
Whats Going On? Additionally, its information models have improved, security by

Industrial Internet of Things


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IEEE 802
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Networking (TSN) fits into the seven-layer
network diagram and how the diagram
relates to industrial Ethernet communications.
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MARCH 2017
design has been realized, and a publish/subscribe feature will soon
Ethernet and be implemented, complementing its current client/server model.
Industrial
Communications: Is TSN + OPC UA just hype?
Whats Going On? The combination of TSN and OPC UA seems like an exciting
advancement in industrial communication. We at Profibus/Profinet

Industrial Internet of Things


International (PI) embrace both OPC UA and TSN. In fact, TSN is
precisely what weve been doing for a long time already with Profinet.
From its beginning, Profinet has been an open network allowing for
highly deterministic control traffic to coexist with all other Ethernet
traffic. This is exactly what TSN is hoping to achieve.

Some people think that the combination of OPC UA plus TSN


can serve as a fieldbus replacement. But thats not the case, due
to the modern nature of a fieldbus. Today, a fieldbus is more than
just a protocol. A modern fieldbus handles things like data access,
diagnostics, application profiles, uptime, predictive maintenance,
safety and more.

The key takeaway here is to use the right tool for the right task. Just
like Profinet isnt intended to move information directly to the cloud,
OPC UA is unsuitable for field-level control. But this is where TSN
comes in: Profinet and OPC UA can now share a TSN infrastructure
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MARCH 2017
all the way down to the field level. This is a critical difference to
Ethernet and other fieldbus organizations that position OPC UA and TSN only
Industrial from the controller upwards. They see those technologies as a threat,
Communications: whereas PI sees them as an opportunity. When TSN is standardized
Whats Going On? in Ethernet, it can be implemented with ease into Profinet because
standard Ethernet is already employed.

Industrial Internet of Things


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Communications Is Key for Automation

MARCH 2017
and Inspection Applications
BY CHUCK KARWOSKI
President, CimQuest INGear

Industrial Internet of Things


For those who use PLCs in factory automation and inspection
applications, third-party communications software is proving to
enable factory systems to operate more efficiently and reliably.

O ne of the most critical components of factory automation systems is


the communications software that connects a systems computers
to the programmable logic controllers (PLCs) that do the actual work.
Without an efficient and reliable communication link, a factory automation
system or inspection system can be brought to its knees.

Arde Kirka, project manager for Megawin (www.megawin-corp.


com) in San Diego, is very aware of this. His company develops
custom supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems
and human-machine interface (HMI) software for many different
applications, including automated assembly, conveyor systems,
storage and retrieval systems, and plastic molding.
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MARCH 2017
Kirka notes that communication software is often overlooked by
Communications Is his customers. But without good communications, an automation
Key for Automation system will just fall apart. He also says that, in addition to supporting
and Inspection all the correct protocols, the software must operate reliably day after
Applications day, year after year.

Industrial Internet of Things


Microsofts Visual Studio development tools, which Kirka uses,
are a widely used platform for creating Internet of Things (IoT)
applications. The PLC communication drivers from CimQuest
INGear (www.ingeardrivers.com)Industrial Networking Gearare
plug-in libraries that provide a direct communication link connecting
Microsoft Visual Studio to the factory floor without the need for third-
party components. This enables Visual Studio to be used to craft
custom Industrial IoT (IIoT) solutions for virtually any industry sector
needing access to valuable PLC data.

In addition to custom systems, Megawin offers a product called


ScadaPusha monitoring and control system that allows users to
remotely communicate with plant control equipment and SCADA
software. With ScadaPush, operators, engineers and managers are
notified of alarms and events that affect the operation of a factory
automation system. They can also simultaneously access real-time
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MARCH 2017
and historical data, alarms and events so that they can make the
Communications Is appropriate decisions to keep the system up and running.
Key for Automation
and Inspection As shown in Figure 1, ScadaPush consists of hardware, called the
Applications appliance, a ruggedized Windows computer, and an app that runs on
Apple or Android smartphones and tablets. The appliance connects

Industrial Internet of Things


to the automation systems local area network (LAN) and securely
communicates via the cloud with the remote app. The appliance
supports a number of different data acquisition protocols, including
Trio Native, Modbus RTU/ASCII, Modbus TCP, GE-EGD/SRTP, Allen-

ScadaPush connects
PLCs to tablets and
smartphones via the cloud.
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MARCH 2017
Bradley CIP and EtherNet/IP. To communicate with the PLCs, the
Communications Is appliance uses INGear driver software.
Key for Automation
and Inspection According to Kirka, being able to purchase communications software
Applications that supports a variety of PLCs was very important for this particular
product. ScadaPush has to support a wide variety of PLCswhatever

Industrial Internet of Things


the customer already has installed. One customer might be using
Allen-Bradley PLCs, while the next customer might be using a
combination of Siemens and GE PLCs. Since each installation has
its own unique communications requirements, it has to be easily
configurable to meet the customers needs.

Kirka had considered writing his own communications software, but


decided against it. Writing PLC interfaces is not a trivial task, he
said. You might have a team of two or three developers working
on a driver, and even then, when you finish, your driver might not
support all of the features of that PLC.

He also pointed out that PLC manufacturers are continually fixing bugs
and adding features to their PLCs, meaning that drivers developed
in-house can quickly become obsolete. What this means is that
supporting your own drivers can become a very time-consuming
and expensive proposition.
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Industrial Internet of Things


30

CONTINUED

MARCH 2017
Instead, Kirka relies on INGear drivers in his custom projects and the
Communications Is ScadaPush product. The drivers he purchases are guaranteed to be
Key for Automation kept up to date and, if there ever is a problem, he can get support
and Inspection from the company. For a low, yearly maintenance fee he can get
Applications updates to the communications when theyre available, and he can
devote his development efforts to the control or automation system

Industrial Internet of Things


that hes developing for his customers. Since CimQuest INGear
drivers are available for the most widely used PLCs and work so
well, Kirka noted, it would be crazy for me to develop my own
communications software.

The inspection connection


Another company for whom PLC communications software is
vitally important is Integro Technologies (www.integro-tech.com) in
Salisbury, N.C., which makes a variety of optical inspection systems
to detect defects in containers, glass jars, round disks, cylindrical
bushings, copper fittings and even tires. Most of these inspection
systems use a PLC to control the machinery.

The Tire Guardian, shown in Figure 2, uses a PLC to move a tire


into and out of the inspection system and gather inspection data.
The system, which has a 15-second cycle time, projects a laser light
sidewall of a rotating automobile tire and, using a profile sensor,
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MARCH 2017
Communications Is
Key for Automation
and Inspection
Applications

Industrial Internet of Things


Tire Guardian automatically inspects
tire assemblies in 15 seconds.
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MARCH 2017
digitizes the circumferential band that contains the Department
Communications Is of Transportation (DOT) code, mold code, E-mark code and other
Key for Automation molded-in features. The system also verifies that the tire is assembled
and Inspection properly on the rim and inspects the tire for deformities. Once an
Applications inspection is complete, the system displays the data on a computer
screen, records and analyzes the digitized data, and decides whether

Industrial Internet of Things


to accept or reject the assembly.

According to Pat LaFerriere, Integros applications engineering


manager, getting the inspection information from the plant floor to
the executives is whats important in his applications. Thats one of the
reasons he also uses INGear software to handle the communications
with the PLCs in Integros inspection systems. The CimQuest INGear
drivers that he uses are extremely reliable and much cheaper than
the drivers available from the PLC manufacturers themselves. Instead
of paying for a runtime license for each individual PLC, Integro
purchases a one-time developers license, which allows the company
to develop software for as many PLCs as they want.

Another factor that sold LaFerriere on INGear software is the support.


He considered developing the communications software himself
and using open-source software, but decided that trying to support
the software himself would be too expensive and that support for
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MARCH 2017
open-source software is nearly non-existent. When we need PLC
Communications Is software support, we simply call CimQuest INGear, and we usually
Key for Automation have an answer within 30 minutes, he said.
and Inspection
Applications Communications software is the glue that holds a factory automation
system or inspection system together and allows users to make full

Industrial Internet of Things


use of its capabilities. Both Megawin and Integro Technologies rely
on INGear software to provide this functionality for their customers.
They both have found that, in terms of cost, reliability and support,
using INGear driver software just makes the most sense for them.
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35

Why Collaboration

MARCH 2017
Is the Key to IIoT
BY PHIL MARSHALL
CEO, Hilscher North America

Industrial Internet of Things


Increasing partnerships between automation technology
and information technology suppliers is fast-tracking
development of products and services to ease the adoption
of Internet of Things capabilities across industry.

B uilding the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is a complex


undertaking. When Hilscher started to create an IIoT strategy,
we realized that no single organization would be capable of a total
solution. Too much was involved across too many domains. Plus,
there is a lot that automation vendors dont know about IT, while the
IT world also knows little about automationat least for now.

Both sides are coming together slowly, though the culture gap is
still wide. But with new technologies like deep learning and artificial
intelligence starting to impact automation, its the IT suppliers who
hold most of the aces.
36

CONTINUED

MARCH 2017
Large automation vendors have been moving toward cloud-based
Why Collaboration solutions for some time, of course. But I think their solutions will
Is the Key to IIoT depend as much on what those big IT vendors are offering as on
the decades of controls experience they bring to the party. In other
words, a collaborative approach is inevitable.

Industrial Internet of Things


Its interesting how, thanks to this collaboration between IT and
automation, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) is
getting a mid-life kicker. Hilschers new marketing partnership with
SCADA specialist Inductive Automation and middleware supplier
MQTT is already a de Cirrus Link Solutions demonstrates this. The connection among these
facto standard for companies is a natural one: Hilscher fills the data-gathering role via
IIoT. Its lean our Edge Gateways, while Inductive Automation supplies the SCADA
and fast, it works functionality. The key, however, is the MQTT middleware supplied
in parallel with by Cirrus Link Solutionsand theres an interesting backstory.
standard network
protocols, and its MQTT is already a de facto standard for IIoT. Its lean and fast, it
ideal for Internet works in parallel with standard network protocols, and its ideal for
connectivity. But Internet connectivity. But it transmits raw data; in other words, theres
theres no structure no structure or context to enable meaningful information to be
or context to the delivered to the higher-level system. This is an issue that Cirrus Link
data it transmits. Solutions is directly addressing.
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MARCH 2017
Arlen Nipper, co-inventor of MQTT and CTO of Cirrus Link Solutions,
Why Collaboration sees IIoT as a massive opportunity for industry. His middleware now
Is the Key to IIoT includes an open specification called SparkPlug that adds the missing
structure and context to raw data, making the IIoT SCADA task
elegantly simple. Inductive Automation notes that, with its Ignition
system, anyone can now access any tag by name from anywhere in

Industrial Internet of Things


an enterprise within minutes.

Another example of business collaboration taking place around IIoT


comes from the IT majors. With the arrival of cloud strategies and
the use of as-a-service product delivery (whereby customers use
standard modules and pay only for what they need), traditional IT
software came under threat. Their response was to adjust their offerings
quickly. They spotted the opportunity to dig deep into new working
environments, including our manufacturing automation universe.

But they knew they could not do it alone, so collaborative efforts are
underway to bring the two worlds together. The prize is a quantum leap
in operating efficiencies. Even more exciting are the new opportunities
on offer. Take the digital twin concept for example, where a real system
is partnered with a virtual copy in the cloud. From engineering through
asset management to maintenance and even eventual dismantling,
modeling a system in software offers huge potential.
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However, creating a digital twin requires comprehensive, reliable
Why Collaboration device information to be easily accessible. Unfortunately, that level
Is the Key to IIoT of information is not yet easy to access, and that is preventing

Industrial Internet of Things


40

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MARCH 2017
faster deployment of the digital twin approach. So permit me, if
Why Collaboration you will, to mention the Device Information Portal that Hilscher is
Is the Key to IIoT planning to launch.

The Device Information Portal is a library of device description files


and similar data, aggregated automatically using web crawlers and

Industrial Internet of Things


manually through direct upload by the device manufacturers. The
portal will support all protocols and manufactured devices. Vendors
will have the chance to check, upload and amend the data themselves
before it goes live and they will be responsible for its accuracy. Well
make things easy for them and well make the data available to
anyone who has a need. In time, wed like to include documentation,
photographs and just about anything else that might be of value in
the IIoT universe.

Major end users weve spoken to are eager for us to succeed. Our
discussions with fieldbus organizations and device vendors also
confirm that the demand is there, as is across-the-board support.
Even our competitors want to be involved!

Like so much of IIoT, the Device Information Portal is yet another


example of collaboration in action.
41

Node-RED Stitches

MARCH 2017
the IIoT Together
BY MATT NEWTON
Director of technical marketing, Opto 22

Industrial Internet of Things


A look at how Node-REDan open-source, easy-to-use
visual toolcan be used to connect disparate systems to
achieve Internet of Things levels of interoperability.

N ew technology always brings change. Netflix replaced the


neighborhood Blockbuster movie store. Priceline eliminated
the need for a travel agent. And if you remember spending hours
browsing through Tower Records, then you also witnessed the
transition from vinyl to CDs to electronic music files like MP3s. These
older business models evaporated almost overnight as consumers
adopted a more efficient way of doing things through the Internet.

Today, as the rate of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) adoption


increases, the industrial business landscape is being overhauled as
well. And one of the tools accelerating this exciting change is Node-
RED, an open-source visual tool for wiring the IIoT.
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To the chagrin of many proprietary automation technology vendors,
Node-RED Stitches open-source tools, Internet standards and commercial off-the-shelf
the IIoT Together technologies have infiltrated the industrial technology arena. One
of the most prominent examples of this is Ethernet, which has all but
ended the fieldbus wars.

Industrial Internet of Things


As agents of change, these open standards-based technologies
democratize information sharing between industrial (operational
technology, or OT) and information technology (IT) assets. And
the increased access to information between OT and IT systems is
uncovering opportunities for industry outliers to enter new markets
or capture increased market share.

But hurdles still exist in IIoT adoption.

Adoption challenges remain


In a recent survey by Business Insider, respondents reported that,
though the IIoT will only continue to grow, the No. 1 challenge faced
in developing an IIoT solution is system integration. Translation: How
do we get our OT systems to talk to our IT systems?

From a protocol and connectivity perspective, the answer is


straightforward: TCP/IP and Ethernet. However, when we peel back
43
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Industrial Internet of Things


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44

CONTINUED

MARCH 2017
the layers of system interoperability, we eventually reach a roadblock
Node-RED Stitches in the form of software. How do developers get the software stack
the IIoT Together from a programmable logic controller (PLC) or programmable
automation controller (PAC) from vendor A to communicate with the
predictive analytics software from vendor B?

Industrial Internet of Things


For example, how would a developer move data from an automation
controller into a cognitive analytics application like the IBM Watson
IoT platform? More importantly, how does the developer do that
without countless development cycles or hours of manpower
configuring and troubleshooting complex middleware?

The short answer: Node-RED.

Reduce software development risk


The root of low IIoT adoption is uncertainty about return on investment
(ROI) in these new technologies. Uncertainty is risk exposure to a
business. In todays business environment, resources expended on
technology investments must result in a good ROI. And in most cases,
that return needs to be reached in weeks or monthsnot years.

So how do we reduce our exposure to software development and


integration risk? The answer is to fail fast. Efficient application
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MARCH 2017
development requires engineers to prototype quickly and fail fast if
Node-RED Stitches an idea doesnt pan out.
the IIoT Together
The concept of failing fast is well known throughout the software
industry, though not always applied. When we fail fast, we start work
on a product, service or application, quickly learn whether we made

Industrial Internet of Things


a good decision and, if not, kill it fast before we waste unnecessary
resources on further development.

IIoT application development should also leverage the agile


methodology (www.agilemethodology.org). Agile development
offers alternatives to traditional sequential application development.
Agile helps teams respond to unpredictability by breaking down work
into incremental, iterative chunks and getting immediate empirical
feedback.

In other words, does the software actually work or not? And if it


doesnt, which part is broken?

Software engineers tasked with dreaming up the next big IIoT


application need to be able to fail fast through agile application
development. But how? Enter Node-RED.
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Node-RED Stitches From hello world to hello connected world
the IIoT Together The objective of IIoT is to connect sensors, computing systems and
online services together to cut costs, provide higher service levels,
identify new revenue streams, and just maybe make the world a
cleaner, safer, better place.

Industrial Internet of Things


But building the vast network of interconnected devices, software
and services the IIoT requires is complicated. It requires hours and
hours of hacking together and debugging complex software code.
Or does it?

Software development for IIoT applications can be a somewhat


repetitive task. For example, how often does a developer need to
write code to read data from a serial device and post it to a web
server? Its these repetitive software development tasks that quickly
erode an IIoT projects ROI.

Node-RED instead seeks to provide IIoT developers with a software


toolkit of reusable code thats so easy to use, a novice can pick it up
and quickly prototype an application, yet powerful enough to create
real-world IIoT applications that leverage artificial intelligence, machine
learning, and advanced Internet communication and data processing.
47

MARCH 2017
Are you ready for Smart Factory?

Industrial Internet of Things


Connected. Reliable. Secure.
These are the essential features that put the power of Smart Factory at your fingertips - devices that are interconnected,
networks that stand up to tough data and environmental challenges, and platforms that protect against cyber attacks.
Whether youre just getting started, managing a complex network, or anywhere in-between, Moxa has the tools to guide
your transition every step of the way.

Learn more at www.moxa.com/smartfactory.


48

CONTINUED

MARCH 2017
What is Node-RED?
Node-RED Stitches Node-RED has an easy-to-use graphical interface displayed in a web
the IIoT Together browser, where you drag and drop reusable blocks of JavaScript-based
software code, called nodes. These nodes make IIoT application
development simpler, easier to repeat, and faster to scale.

Industrial Internet of Things


When several nodes are connected together, they become a node flow.
Node flows are what developers use to digitally wire together their
IIoT applications, leveraging nodes for hardware devices, application
program interfaces (APIs) and online services hosted in the cloud.

Built on the popular Node.js JavaScript server-side runtime, Node-


RED has a large existing node librarymore than 600 prebuilt and
ready-to-deploy nodesthat IIoT application developers can freely
deploy directly into their applications. Node-RED even has built-in
support for popular IIoT and industrial protocols like MQTT, Modbus,
CoAP, AMQP, BLE, OPC UA, and even mDNS for device discovery.

With this vast library of prebuilt code, Node-RED provides engineers


with an easy way to connect edge computing systemssuch as
industrial automation controllers like Opto 22s SNAP PACsto
cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) IoT, IBM Watson
IoT and Microsoft Azure.
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CONTINUED

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The simplicity of Node-RED allows IIoT application developers to
Node-RED Stitches focus on identifying an opportunity and developing a solution rather
the IIoT Together than building the components of an application from scratch. For
example, if you want to create an application to poll data from a
Modbus TCP device, log that data to a SQL database and then move
it into a machine-learning application program like IBMs Watson

Industrial Internet of Things


there are nodes for all of those functions, already developed and ready
to deploy without having to write, debug or support software code.

Advanced JavaScript functions can also be created within the editor


using a Function node. A built-in library lets developers save useful
functions, templates or node flows for reuse. The flows created in
Node-RED are stored using the widely known JSON format, which
can be easily shared with other developers and applications.

Node-REDs prebuilt code library greatly reduces software


development risk exposure and accelerates time to market. Drag,
drop, wire together, deploy. Its that easy.
50

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MARCH 2017
Industry-wide adoption
Node-RED Stitches Node-RED is an open-source development environment invented by
the IIoT Together Nick OLeary and Dave Conway-Jones of IBM Emerging Technology
Services. Its also part of the JS Foundation, a Linux Foundation
project. Its roots are firmly planted in the world of open-source and
widely adopted software code.

Industrial Internet of Things


Available on GitHub.com and npmjs.org, the Node-RED development
environment can run on almost any platform, from macOS, Microsoft
Windows, Linux and Raspberry Pi to cloud offerings like IBM Bluemix
and AT&T Flow and industrial products like hardened IIoT application
development platforms with built-in industrial protocol support, like
the groov Box appliance from Opto 22.