Communication from the controller to the cloud

Source: pixabay

In modern production, networking and communication play an increasingly important role alongside pure control technology. Complex processes extend across several distributed plants, and data from the ongoing operation of the machines should also be collected and analyzed in higher layers in order to optimize processes or predict incipient damage at an early stage. These technological trends also always resonate with the buzzwords Industry 4.0 or Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Numerous challenges arise as to how different devices from different manufacturers can exchange data with each other securely, reliably and efficiently.

OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA) is a standard for platform-independent communication of machine data in the industrial environment. In addition to transmission via suitable communication protocols, the data is also described semantically in machine-readable form using information models. The issue of scalability plays an important role here. Uniform communication should be made possible from embedded systems such as smart sensors to programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and servers in the cloud. TCP/IP, for example, can be used as the communication protocol, together with classic request/response procedures or newer approaches such as publish/subscribe.

In the automation laboratory of the Institute for Industrial Automation Systems (IAS), student research projects and theses regularly deal with the topic of OPC UA for industrial communication: Often using the concrete example of a Fischertechnik model factory controlled with Codesys and a Raspberry Pi, e. g. on the topic of error and alarm management or the creation of dashboards with NodeRed, but also on the construction of various demonstrators with Raspberry Pi and the expansion board SenseHat, such as a weather station or various games programmed with Codesys, such as Snake or Tilt.

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