An Open OS for Cloud Management of Industrial Devices

Sept. 19, 2023
Weidmüller releases it u-OS system for diagnostics and fleet management while minimizing vendor lock-in for end users and OEMs.

Well known for its industrial connectivity and electronics technologies such as terminal blocks, connectors, cabling, I/O, controllers and power supplies, Weidmüller is expanding its role in industry’s digital transformation with the release of u-OS, an open operating system designed to handle tasks such as device maintenance and application integration.

On the maintenance side, u-OS connects devices to the cloud for diagnostics and fleet management of remotely deployed devices. Containerization capabilities in u-OS are the key to its ability to merge proprietary and third-party apps.

Ken Crawford, senior director of automation at Weidmüller USA says, u-OS is designed to “ensure future resilience and ease of system migration by eliminating reliance on a single provider.”

Weidmüller emphasizes the openness of u-OS via its design around open standards such as Linux, OPC-UA and Docker and its support for multiple fieldbus protocols. The company notes the point of u-OS is to help users avoid being locked-in to using specific vendor technology ecosystems in their operations.

A key feature to u-OS’s openness is its use of the Codesys app, an IEC61131-3 programming tool often used in machine building and system integration. Codesys is a software package that contains the development environment for programming control applications along with runtime software that executes the programs and provides data for visualization.

At Pack Expo 2023, Crawford explained that u-OS is meant to connect devices to the cloud for remote management. He noted that u-OS combines components for connectivity, such as MQTT, and containerization capabilities that enables Codesys and Node-Red to run on u-OS managed devices.

Providing an example using Weidmüller’s UC20 PLC with remote I/O, Crawford explained that u-OS allows users to take components or applications written for a PLC and “run those same applications on an industrial PC that's running u-OS or migrate it to a higher-level PLC or HMI running u-OS. With u-OS, you can port everything that you've done directly and leverage it.”

In addition to the openness benefits u-OS provides end users, Crawford noted the benefits to OEMs as well. For OEMs, “we can take an application or algorithm [they’ve developed] and we can custom program it with our ASN (Automation Sales Network) group using u-OS to put it in a field power box or any kind of IP-rated box. We can then assemble it, wire it, terminate it, program it, test it and then brand it professionally made in our UL508A shop,” he said.

See Weidmüller’s Ken Crawford explain u-OS at Pack Expo 2023 in the video below.

About the Author

David Greenfield, editor in chief | Editor in Chief

David Greenfield joined Automation World in June 2011. Bringing a wealth of industry knowledge and media experience to his position, David’s contributions can be found in AW’s print and online editions and custom projects. Earlier in his career, David was Editorial Director of Design News at UBM Electronics, and prior to joining UBM, he was Editorial Director of Control Engineering at Reed Business Information, where he also worked on Manufacturing Business Technology as Publisher. 

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