Red Lion’s Flexedge Automation Platform Now Integrates IT & OT
Industrial control and monitoring equipment company Red Lion Controls announced an upgrade to its FlexEdge Intelligent Edge Automation Platform recently.
The new version of the Red Lion’s platform brings Crimson 3.2 software to Linux-based machines, together with a wholly redesigned user interface and new features. The new capabilities are aimed at allowing engineers to explore new product combinations, thus expanding the scenarios in which the FlexEdge platform can be deployed.
Red Lion’s FlexEdge platform. Image courtesy of Red Lion Controls.
Red Lion Controls was founded in 1972 and has in the past 40 years developed a number of monitoring and control systems for industrial automation and networking.
The company, which is now part of productivity-enhancing instrumentation firm Spectris, first started its business by providing sensors, counters, and panel meters to monitor and display data within a plant or process. Over the years, the Red Lion product portfolio expanded to include HMI operator panels, protocol converters, Ethernet switches, and cellular M2M routers. Today, one of Red Lion’s flagship products is undoubtedly its FlexEdge Intelligent Edge Automation Platform.
FlexEdge: A Scalable Solution
The Red Lion’s FlexEdge platform is built first and foremost to bring industrial data together to transform edge computing. This scalable solution is capable of integrating complex multi-vendor environments into digital transformation strategies, while also providing roadmaps for changing application needs.
Image courtesy of Red Lion Controls.
Scalability is substantiated here by the possible addition of up to ten hot-swappable I/O or PID modules. The FlexEdge platform also allows on-device wiring diagrams and removable wire clamp screw terminal blocks to ease installation. Troubleshooting and system testing are also optimized through the at-a-glance module status indicator and individual channel LEDs.
Crimson 3.2: A Substantial Upgrade
The latest upgrade of Red Lion’s configuration software for FlexEdge controllers brings a number of updates to the platform. Now integrating a Linux core, the Crimson 3.2 software features support for advanced networking capabilities including routing, VLAN support, VPN client/server, and certificate management. Moreover, the new update supports over 300 protocol drivers, including Modbus RTU and TCP/IP, EtherNet/IP, Emerson ROC, and both DNP3 serial and Ethernet communications.
The platform’s software interface has also been revamped, and now allows for various drag-and-drop features and support for multiple simultaneous conversions.
As a direct consequence, engineers can now also integrate virtually any PLC, RTU, or industrial asset to popular IIoT clouds or SCADA platforms. For more information about the new update, you can check Red Lion’s website here.
Exploring New Communication Applications
The merging of Linux systems with the new capabilities of Crimson 3.2 software now enables a single FlexEdge controller to be used to perform advanced networking, security, and automation operations.
The additional functionalities of the platform also allow companies to obtain field-unlockable software upgrades, thus eliminating the need to purchase or add more equipment. The new FlexEdge features open doors to new product combinations, for example using modular communications sleds to deploy multi-cellular radio gateways for critical communications applications.
What is more, for applications in harsh environments, the platform now offers multiple isolated serial ports, routable Ethernet ports, optional serial, USB, Wi-Fi, as well as cellular communications sleds, and field-installable I/O. By integrating information technology and operational technology, FlexEdge can now help customers to reduce costs, improve data security, and increase productivity.