The process industry is facing a digital transition to the ‘smart factory’. Cloud communication is providing new opportunities for networking, especially with a view to process optimisation.

The smart factory provides many answers to digital questions about the future. Prerequisites include transparent information about processes, performance and quality.

Although a huge amount of data is being collected in industrial processes, this data is usually spread across different systems that are often incompatible. This makes it extremely difficult to network systems and processes.

By using cloud communication, new opportunities for networking arise for the process industry, in particular with a view towards required system availability and the optimisation of processes.

In addition, manufacturing islands must be able to communicate vertically past factory walls to the cloud, so that supervisors have access to current data across multiple production facilities as needed.

Flexible access to process-relevant data

WAGO has dealt extensively with these requirements and can offer specific approaches to solutions for system operators in the process industry. These are based on technologies that are available today and offer measurable added value to the users.

WAGO Cloud Data Control, which manages and monitors all WAGO PFC Controllers as well as their applications and data, is included among the most recent approaches.

A Web portal serves as a user interface for the cloud service hosted by Microsoft Azure. Customers have access to functions – like project, controller, and user management, controller status monitoring, alarm functions, and email messaging – through this gateway.

A dashboard displays texts, tables, diagrams, display elements and command buttons for seamless and intuitive operation.

For customised solutions, the REST or OPC UA interface is used, for example, in energy monitoring and predictive maintenance applications. These enable users to recognise disruptions and to initiate repairs before faults lead to serious damage and cause production stoppages.

A cloud solution in just a few steps

Both the WAGO-I/O-SYSTEM 750 and 750 XTR connect to field devices, and a PFC Controller sends data to the Cloud Data Control – the newest PFC generation is IoT-ready following a simple upgrade.

By programming an IEC application with the corresponding library, the controllers can be transformed into IoT devices in just a few simple steps.

Following this, status information such as Run/Stop, connection status, device information, and variables defined in the IEC program can be transmitted to the cloud and visualised.

The IoT controllers communicate with the Cloud Data Control via an encrypted MQTT protocol. The cloud connection data is configured via Web-Based Management (WBM). Libraries for CODESYS V2.3 and e!COCKPIT are also included in the scope of delivery.

The variables that will be transferred to the cloud can be defined using the IEC program. This means that sensitive data does not leave the company.

Thus, the WAGO PFC100 and PFC200 Controllers form the platform that links elements from the real and digital worlds. They also offer a variety of interfaces, forming the perfect foundation for an IoT gateway.

These modular and scalable controllers collect every field signal, communicate in all industrial protocols, and even enable cloud connection to sensors and actuators that themselves have no Web interface.

View more information here.

Lauren ‘LJ’ Butler is the Assistant Editor of Utility magazine and has been part of the team at Monkey Media since 2018.

After completing a Bachelor of Media, Communications and Professional Writing at the University of Wollongong in 2014, and prior to writing about the utility sector, LJ worked as a Journalist and Sub Editor across the horticulture, hardware, power equipment, construction and accommodation industries with publishers such as Glenvale Publications, Multimedia Publishing and Bean Media Group.

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