Upgrading Legacy Systems for the IIoT

Aug. 2, 2018
How Maple Systems’ Smart Communication Gateways with HMI data processing capabilities can be used to quickly build an Industrial Internet of Things environment with existing devices.

Does exchanging data between different types of machines always give you a headache? Integrating miscellaneous legacy equipment for factory automation has never been an easy task. Each machine uses a different controller, and integrating with supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) monitoring systems is difficult because of the multitudes of different protocols. This is one of the obstacles that makes productivity improvement efforts so hard.

Take changing standard machine parameters as an example. With no networked and distributed system, the operator needs to walk to each machine individually and manually enter parameters. In this system, because of a lack of data accessibility, the potential problems in the factory might not be easily found and could eventually lead to defective products being made.

Enter Maple Systems’ cMT Smart Communication Gateways. Designed to add new communications protocols to existing systems, the cMT-G01 and G02 will get your legacy systems talking to your management network in a low-cost, low-effort way. With Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) protocol standards such as MQTT and OPC UA built in, and the ability to process data like a conventional human-machine interface (HMI), the cMT-G01/G02 fits well into many applications to integrate real-time data from different devices, providing a standard communications interface.

Protocol integration and data analysis

Unlike other gateway products with limited connectivity, the cMT-G01/02 products come standard with drivers to communicate with more than 300 brands of controllers. They are able to transmit all the data from the controllers to SCADA and ERP systems, completely integrating multiple devices into one system.

OPC UA is a communication protocol supported by many SCADA, manufacturing execution system (MES) and ERP software providers. This protocol has built-in security with signed and encrypted data transfer using state-of-the-art encryption algorithms. Any data accessible to the cMT Gateway can be added to the OPC UA server and accessed securely via an upstream device. The configuration interface used to add data to the OPC UA server is simple to use and allows data to be organized into multi-level objects with descriptive names. An OPC UA client connecting to the cMT Gateway will see data organized in the same intuitive way.

MQTT is a widely supported, extremely simple and lightweight publish/subscribe messaging protocol, designed for constrained devices and low-bandwidth, high-latency or unreliable networks. Our cMT Gateway products are also able to integrate with existing cloud data centers like Amazon AWS IoT and Microsoft Azure, simplifying and expediting field implementation.

The cMT-G01/02 products are also equipped with the ability to perform the same data acquisition and analysis functions our advanced HMIs feature (e.g., store event log). They can not only implement data transfer functions (e.g., recipe data) between devices, but also run macros to perform arithmetic and logic operations and convert raw data into meaningful information. In addition, these communication gateways support our Scheduler feature, offering the ability to trigger events at specific times.

Alerts and networking

The cMT-G01/02 can send emails to inform users about the operational status of onsite machines and use the MQTT Publish function to send updated data or messages to immediately notify subscribed users. EasyAccess 2.0 can remotely debug or update devices without the need for adjusting firewall settings. With the EasyAccess 2.0 Push Notification function, users can receive immediate notifications about the operation status of onsite machines on their portable devices (iOS/Android), which greatly improves efficiency and reduces the losses caused by unplanned downtime.

Unique to the cMT-G02 is built-in Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n support with strong resistance to interference. The detachable antenna can be replaced with third-party antennas suitable for the environment. Wi-Fi settings can be quickly configured using the web interface.

Legacy upgrade

cMT Gateways are a compact, low-cost and flexible way to get your legacy systems talking to current technology. These gateways address the demand for protocol integration of different controllers, data acquisition and analysis from onsite machines, secure data transmission to upper layer data management systems, and real-time event/alarm notification to the operator. They also fulfill key operations requirements by communicating with a wide range of existing equipment and support emerging IIoT protocols such as MQTT and OPC UA. They are an efficient, reliable, scalable and secure way to upgrade any factory to a smart factory.

For more information, visit Maple Systems at www.maplesystems.com.

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