Softing Industrial Automation Upgrades edgeConnector Products to Include MQTT and IIoT Capabilities
How could IoT and MQTT capabilities be helpful for this kind of industrial data communication?
In terms of industrial data communication, both transmission and reception are necessary components of any modern industrial system.
Communication can be point to point or point to mult-point. This communication can be facilitated by copper wire, fiber optics, storage media, wireless connections, and computer buses. This article discusses how Softing Industrial Automation is upgrading its edgeConnector Products to be seemingly incorporated into industrial data communication.
Softing Industrial Automation
Softing Industrial Automation specializes in exchanging digital data with a portfolio, including OPC software suites, data exchange modules, networking monitoring products, and communication protocol modules. Their products have been used widely in the automotive, industrial, and IT industries.
A diagram showing the compatibility with Softing's edgeConnectors. Image used courtesy of Softing Industrial Automation
Softing Industrial continues to develop solutions for the massive industrial push to digitally connect all aspects of the industry from the supply chain, manufacturing, and assembly. To properly understand the upgrades incorporated into Softing’s edgeConnectors, it is important to understand some general definitions of IoT and MQTT.
IoT and MQTT Terms Explained
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of objects, machines, systems, computing devices, and people that have a unique identifier (UID). This could also be embedded with sensors that are connected to the internet. These connections don’t need any facilitation from human-to-human or human-to-computer interactions.
As a simple description, IoT can be thought of as a system of three key features.
- Edge Functionality: The physical sensors, actuators, and components connected to the device or machine.
- Data Gateways: Mechanisms used for transmitting the sensed data from one edge device to another, in addition to transmission and receiving data from network servers.
- Data Management & Analysis: Cloud storage, collection, communication, linking, and analysis of the data that can be used for desktop and mobile user interfaces.
In addition to understanding IoT, it is also critical to understand MQTT in this context.
MQTT (MQ Telemetry Transport) is a lightweight, publishing network protocol that acts as the transportation vehicle or broker for messages between edge devices. This protocol is suitable for connecting remote devices with minimal network bandwidth and a small code footprint.
It can be run over any network that provides, ordered, lossless, bi-directional connections. MQTT is widely used in automotive, telecommunication, and manufacturing settings offering smooth data transfer while reducing loads on CPUs and RAM due to its low bandwidth to operate.
It is easiest to think of the MQTT protocol as the “cars” that connect the nodes of the IIot.
A diagram showing how edgeConnector Siemens connects Siemens SIMATIC S7 and other protocols and platforms. Image used courtesy of Softing Industrial Automation
By incorporating new software modules, based on their previous “Docker” technology, these edgeConnector products can now process data from SIMATIC S7, SINUMERIK 840D, and Modbus TCP controllers, respectively.
Siemens SIMATIC S7-300. Image used courtesy of Siemens
Adopting MQTT capabilities allows for data read by the edgeConnector Siemens and edgeConnector 804 to be configured locally through an integrated web interface for easy analysis and distribution. The edgeConnector Modbus can be used to directly integrate control data into private or public IoT cloud applications.
Softing’s extension of their dataFEED product family connectivity with MQTT technology is a push to bring their controllers to the Internet of Things. This could allow the SIMATIC S7, SINUMERIK 840D, and Modbus TCP to be effectively integrated into IoT infrastructure.