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Unlocking SCADA Modbus networks to Internet of Things (IoT)

Posted by Bramh Gupta on May 5, 2015 4:46:00 PM

With the rapid expansion of sensors, devices, and applications all interconnecting at an increasing rate, there is an increasing need for integrating these devices to cloud based enterprise systems or analytics platforms.  Many existing sensors and devices utilized within industrial networks that communicate over Modbus protocol have been in use for many years. Modbus based automation systems are prevalent across the spectrum of industrial automation and control from manufacturing to steel making, power plants, utilities, oil & gas, transportation, and energy applications.

Modbus based system are critical part of the industrial Internet for automation and control. However, these systems have a lot of valuable information, which could be unlocked and be used by analytics and enterprise systems. The mere act of unlocking this data can have the “networking effect” of data and create value manifold.

Bridging SCADA networks to Internet of Things (IoT) using RoboMQ

Modbus is a relatively simple serial protocol typically used in master-slave applications to monitor and program devices, sensors, and instruments in a SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) network.  It is an ideal protocol for applications where remote communication and consistent interface to a large variety of equipment from a number of manufacturers is required using simple communication. However, with devices, sensors, and industrial networks increasingly becoming new players in the Internet of Things (IoT), there is an ever-increasing need to integrate these existing systems more efficiently to cloud and enterprise networks. Using open standard technologies  these industrial networks can be bridged to the wider Internet of people, processes and things.

With this vision, we recently added a Modbus connector to RoboMQ suite of connectors and adapters called “ThingsConnect”. With more and more connectors and adapters being added to ThingsConnect, we continue to deliver our promise of connecting any device, sensor or thing to any cloud, application or system.

RoboMQ Modbus adapter

What does this Modbus adapter mean for your industrial applications? 

Although Modbus device networks currently provide many levels of information and management capabilities, integrating them through “ThingsConnect” will expand access into the IoT world with many value-added benefits like:
  • Integrate with management, analytics, or data driven alert tools useful for collecting and reporting real-time statistical information
  • Fill in coverage gaps where central and consistent monitoring is key for mission critical equipments
  • Integrate with data storage solutions for historical tracking of equipment status/failures useful for training of operations staff, making it easier to identify the root cause of problems
  • Make SCADA or Modbus based applications an integral part of enterprise applications

For example, an energy company may have an established network of sensors reporting environment variables like CO2, pressure, and temperature to a dashboard accessible to the floor operations staff only. You could unlock this data and make it available to enterprise systems, analytics engines and use it across a wider base of systems and people. A much more effective decision-making can be done using this approach. Throw in machine learning and you build smarter applications that learn from the data.

The Modbus connector offers tremendous efficiency in having the ability to integrate cloud and enterprise hosted applications within existing industrial applications and solutions.  In addition, as a core feature of RoboMQ, it ensures guaranteed and reliable delivery of the information through its robust and scalable IoT infrastructure.  Finally, using open standards based protocols like MQTT (MQ for Telemetry), AMQP, STOMP, and REST all supported by RoboMQ in a interoperable and cross convertible fashion helps deliver a data integration platform where virtually any device can connect to any enterprise system over any communication channel.

With industries, small to large and local to global, increasingly relying on sensors and devices to collect information from the environment and making decisions upon it, the need to build a network of intelligent “things” while ensuring seamless connectivity to existing Modbus and SCADA networks is a paramount one!!
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Topics: Industrial Internet, Internet of Things, IoT, ModBus, Oil & gas,, SCADA, SCADA bridge, steel making, utilities