Communication between factory floor networks and IT-systems

14th May 2018
Posted By : Anna Flockett
Communication between factory floor networks and IT-systems

A new range of Anybus .NET Bridges for PROFIBUS, PROFINET, EtherCAT and EtherNet/IP has been introduced by HMS Industrial Networks. Bridging the gap between Operational Technology (OT) and IT, the .NET bridge family enables data from industrial machinery to be presented to .NET-based IT applications. The result is that .NET programmers can build a PC program which exchanges live data with a PLC system — for statistics, analysis or maintenance.

A quick and easy way to realise IIoT
The basic prerequisite for Industrial IoT is that IT systems get access to data from industrial applications. However, the fieldbus and industrial Ethernet networks of the factory floor are designed for real-time communication - by default separated from the IT-infrastructure. The Anybus .NET Bridges address this situation by acting as translators between OT and IT - sending and receiving data between the factory networks and IT platforms using .NET as a framework.

The communication is set up in a couple of minutes and the .NET Bridges are therefore a very fast way to realise IIoT.

The results 
Thanks to the data bridging capabilities of the Anybus .NET Bridges, IT systems get unprecedented access to real-time data from the factory floor which enables predictive maintenance, KPI-follow-up, machine analytics, data mining, big data processing, production statistics and much more - without interfering with the industrial processes.

The solution can be used for a wide range of use cases, from simple transfer of KPI values, advanced messages with structured data types, or ultra-fast transfer of I/O data for ‘big data.’

How it works
The information exchange between the OT and IT is defined in a spreadsheet template which defines how the data is mapped, tagged and presented to IT-applications. The spreadsheet is uploaded to the HMS code generator which automatically creates a customised high- level C# API (events and Post methods) that is easy to integrate directly into a .NET application. It also generates a customised GSDML or XML file for the PLC.

Easy for both .NET and PLC programmers
“This is the second generation of our .NET bridges,” said James Kime, Product Manager for Anybus gateways. “The existing versions for PROFINET and PROFIBUS have been updated with new functionality, and we can now also offer connectivity to EtherNet/IP and EtherCAT. The .NET Bridges are truly ´edge gateways´ in the sense that they establish a bridge between IT and OT. IT programmers get access to data from industrial machinery, while PLC programmers can rest assured that the data access does not interfere with their critical industrial applications and systems.”

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