The HMI’s Role in the IIoT
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) takes data from your factory floor and shares it with a server (local or a cloud service), offering greater efficiency for network use and enabling better access to and better sharing of data for your entire organization. This data can then be analyzed and used to boost profits, improve processes, reduce downtime, and much more. The Maple Systems human machine interface (HMIs) is the perfect device for the edge of network gateway.
The Edge Gateway
How can your bottom line benefit from the Industrial Internet of Things today and in the future? Enter the Edge Gateway. The edge gateway unlocks valuable data created by existing operational technology, enabling your business to monetize it further with the power of information technology. In the manufacturing sphere, edge gateway devices translate existing data used by control applications into an IIoT-friendly format, sending that data to the Internet for use by IIoT applications.
For successful deployment, an edge gateway device must fulfill key requirements. It must communicate with a wide range of existing equipment and support emerging IIoT protocols such as MQTT and OPC UA. It must be efficient, reliable, and scalable. It must be easy to configure and put into service. Above all, it must be secure.
With support for over 300+ current and legacy industrial automation protocols, enabling them to communicate with a wide array of PLCs, sensors, and more, our Advanced and cMT HMIs can convert factory floor data into data into an IIoT-friendly format, which can be transmitted to a local data collection point or the cloud.
MQTT stands for Message Queuing Telemetry Transport. It is an extremely simple and lightweight Publish/Subscribe
messaging protocol, designed for constrained devices and low-bandwidth, high-latency, or unreliable networks. The design principles are to minimize network bandwidth and device resource requirements while also attempting to ensure reliability and some degree of assurance of delivery. Data is organized into topics which can be subscribed to.
All Advanced HMIs and cMT products support MQTT, with cMT products having access to some advanced features. Explore MQTT
Open Platform Communications (OPC) Unified Architecture (UA) is a communication protocol supported by many SCADA, MES, and ERP software providers. OPC UA uses a Client/Server architecture. This protocol has built-in security with signed and encrypted data transfer using state-of-the-art encryption algorithms. Data is organized into objects, making it easy to access and quickly understand what the data represents, and how to use it.
Most cMT products come with OPC UA Server functionality built-in, or it can be added to non-supported cMT installations with a license purchase. Advanced HMIs can act as an OPC UA Client, but do not support Server functionality. Explore OPC UA
Modbus TCP/IP is an industry standard communications protocol that uses simple master/slave architecture. Maple Systems HMIs can translate data from legacy PLCs and other devices into this commonly used protocol for efficient data gathering. Explore Modbus Gateway
cMT HMI products can send machine metrics and production data or recipes to an SQL database system directly without any middleware system. That data can then be managed on a larger scale using batch database operations. They also support a built-in database query viewer which enables production machines to retrieve data from your central SQL database. Explore SQL Database Integration
Traditional Data Transfer
Pre-IIoT | Locked
This image represents the classic 'island of automation' concept commonly seen in first generation control systems. The data on this machine is locked up with no way to get out. No other systems can access or benefit from the good data (valuable information) this machine is creating.
SCADA Info Transfer | Unlocked, but Unmanaged
This image exemplifies the problem with SCADA systems. In traditional SCADA systems, when a manager sitting in front of a PC needed to know how many units came off the line that day it went a little something like this:
The manager's PC required a SCADA program, which was usually expensive with a highly technical configuration.
The PC program sends a request for data through the entire network to the end device possessing the needed data.
In order to receive the request, a local HMI or device running the same expensive SCADA software is required.
The end device hopefully receives the request and sends back a response with the requested data.
Using this classic configuration, the request and response travel the entire network from office PC through many routers and switches to the end device, not once, but twice, to move a single piece of data. Expand the example to multiple executives or a regional office with a few locations and network traffic quickly becomes unmanageable. And what about the cost to purchase and configure expensive software on every piece of the system?
Machine data has been unlocked but it is not being effectively managed. This reduces the value of the good data (valuable information) coming from the machine because network administrators and operators have to spend time fighting bad data (unnecessary data clogging the network and distracting the operator).
IIoT Data Transfer
Now let's look at the exact same scenario utilizing MQTT as an IIoT example. The same transfer of information looks more like this:
IIoT Optimized | Unlocked and Optimized
A critical data point changes and automatically updates the MQTT broker with its current state.
The manager's software is configured to subscribe to the data point so when the broker receives an updated value, it automatically sends the new data to programs subscribed to it.
The manager checks their PC to see how many units came off the line. The information is already there.
There are no further transmissions because the analytic software already has real-time information about the data points important to its purpose. The end device in the factory does not need expensive SCADA software, it simply needs to speak to an edge gateway such as a Maple Systems HMI, which will translate local data into the MQTT protocol. The manager's PC does not need SCADA software since it only needs to subscribe to the broker on data topics it wants information about. The software automatically takes in the data it needs and produces actionable results.
As you can see, a system utilizing tools of the IIoT achieves many benefits including:
Faster transfer of information
- Automatically receive data updates
- Reduced costs
- Increased amount of open communication
- Easier system set up and management
- A system that is more responsive to change
Reduced network traffic due to eliminating the back and forth compared to traditional systems.
The data is unlocked and optimized so only good data (valuable information) goes where it is needed. Communication networks are protected from excess traffic and the operator can focus on information critical to their task at hand because bad data (unnecessary data clogging the network and distracting the operator) is kept out of the system. The managed data flow fulfills the promise of the IIoT delivering more informed and more profitable decisions.
Maple Systems HMI—Your Edge of Network Gateway
A Human Machine Interface (HMI) is the perfect device for this role. The HMI, the operator's window into the machine in the physical world, can easily be extended to play the same role in the virtual world. The HMI is the place where data is aggregated, filtered, and presented to the operator in an intuitive and digestible way. This same data can easily be presented to users connecting to the HMI through the IIoT.
Works Well with Other Products and Systems
A primary requirement of the IIoT is the ability to work easily and flawlessly with other products and systems. The dizzying array of communication protocols used in manufacturing today could present a significant problem here. Fortunately, Maple Systems HMIs come with extensive libraries of industrial protocol drivers operating on different network architectures. Working seamlessly with other products and systems, Maple HMIs have the ability to unlock valuable data from existing machinery regardless of the protocol used. For example, Maple Systems HMI5097DXL has three serial ports, a CANbus port, and dual-Ethernet, which can operate simultaneously utilizing over 300 different protocols. The dual-Ethernet ports allow dedication of one port for real-time industrial control network demands while the other is reserved for external network connections and IIoT functionality. Distinctly separate Ethernet ports offer added security, since a direct network path does not exist to the machinery itself.
MQTT is one of many internet-enabled features available on Advanced HMI and cMT edge gateway devices, offering increased communication and data collection. For example, HMIs can send emails containing data log and alarm conditions. Remote access applications allow remote users to monitor and control machines through secure VPN connections and enables remote download of project updates. Database integration allows machines to log data directly to database servers over a LAN. Custom server/client applications enable smart device integration (Android/Apple tablets) for machine monitoring and control, moving the touchscreen out of the panel and into the operator's hands. Compared to machine replacement, edge gateway-enabled HMIs are an inexpensive option for upgrading existing machines or adding to new machine builds.
Safety Comes First
With so many features and access options, edge gateway safety and security are of utmost concern. This is why the Maple Systems HMIs can restrict access to data streams to authorized personnel and devices. There will always be a need for on-site trained control personnel ready to react to unsafe conditions. For critical systems that require onsite personnel for safety, the added protection of a one way, read-only connection allows offsite monitoring without control. This enables companies to meet their IIoT needs without sacrificing safety and security. The HMI edge gateway maintains the vital role of local machine control while opening up new possibilities in the IIoT today, tomorrow, and beyond.