Wago is a company well-known for its industrial automation terminal blocks, connector systems, controllers and I/O modules—core products used in applications ranging from industrial and building automation to lighting technology and traffic engineering. Increasingly, however, we are being asked about how we fit into the movement toward the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Here’s how we respond to these increasingly asked questions.
What is Wago’s position on IIoT?
We see IIoT as more of a progression than a trend. In the late 1990s, Wago recognized the need to get plant data off the factory floor and launched our first Ethernet-based programmable logic controller (PLC) and bus coupler. Then, in the early 2000s, we expanded this range and added features we called IT functions, which facilitate many of the requirements for IIoT applications today. We see this progression continuing as technology advances and the industrial world catches up with the consumer world.
What solutions does Wago offer for IIoT applications?
Wago is uniquely positioned to put every physical signal into the cloud and back again into the field. Our Ethernet-based PLCs and bus couplers are robust, proven solutions in the industrial market place and feature many Internet protocols to support IIoT applications. Protocol support includes HTTP, SNTP, SMTP, FTP, SNMP, DHCP, DNS, NTP and more. Our products also support emerging machine-to-machine (M2M) protocols such as OPC UA, MQTT and MTConnect. Also, we offer remote visualization via mobile apps or a web browser (HTML5).
What are some of the challenges of IIoT today?
The major challenges we see today are: No standard for IIoT; multiple M2M platforms to provide connectivity to, such as OPC UA, MTConnect, etc.; security; IIoT return on investment; and presenting role-based information (plant floor, plant manager, maintenance, enterprise user, etc.).
How is Wago addressing these challenges?
As far as standards and M2M platforms go, Wago has always been an automation company that believes in being open—going back to the fieldbus wars in the 1990s when our position was to support all the relevant networks and not isolate our customers into a specific architecture. Interoperability is what matters and Wago has a long history of providing connectivity to all relevant platforms. IIoT will be no different.
Regarding security, we are currently the only PLC supplier with a built-in VPN and firewall. This further reduces the risk when considering ROI, as our PLCs are IIoT-ready in terms of security features, Internet and M2M protocols, etc. Customers using our automation products can implement IIoT measures on their own schedule and not have to worry about hardware additions or complete hardware replacement and their associated costs.
What is the future for Wago and IIoT?
It’s not enough to collect and distribute the data; you also need to aggregate the data for trends, analysis, etc. The company that makes this integration easiest (with configuration tools, connectivity to M2M platforms, etc.) will be the company that others look to for IIoT solutions. Wago intends to continue to be ahead of this curve as we were in the late 1990s when we first introduced our Ethernet-based automation products for getting plant data off the factory floor.