The manufacturing industry is severely affected by the coronavirus. In 2020 production percentages shrank, and many factories came to a standstill. Most German industrial companies have recently returned to production due to the increasing demand from China. However, recovery is needed. IoT can play a key role in supporting this recovery and optimizing factories. Optimization can be done, for example, by using Device Twins with which Modbus devices can be managed from the Cloud. With these Device Twins, managers can prevent malfunctions, updates can be done automatically, and they can monitor the machines remotely. We explain how this works in this blog.
Modbus is a standard communication protocol and has been developed to interconnect industrial electronic devices. These devices communicate data such as measured values, operational data, and control settings via this protocol. The Modbus communication protocol exists since 1979 and has been widely used in machines and equipment in a variety of industries, including energy, transportation, construction and manufacturing. For most Modbus devices this means that a series of registers is defined that can be read or adjusted via the communication protocol. To read or adjust the values that are stored in these registers, the addresses of these registers (and the identification number of the device) must be known.
Managing Modbus Devices with Device Twins
BACE is an IoT solution that enables remote Modbus management with a Device Twin. BACE consists of a module and a Cloud application. The BACE module can be connected as a gateway to one or more Modbus devices. BACE can retrieve the data from the registers of these devices and send this securely to the Cloud application via the 4G or GSM network. This Cloud application, the IoT Connector, processes the data, stores it and makes settings available via a Device Twin.
The Device Twin is a digital replica of the BACE module in the field. Adjustments made to the module, for example configuration adjustments, are immediately synchronized with the Device Twin. This also works in reverse. When adjustments are made to parameters in the Device Twin, these are automatically adjusted in the module itself.
Synchronization of BACE modules with Device Twins
After installing a BACE module, the module automatically detects the identification numbers of the devices to which it is connected, and reports those in the Device Twin. In the Device Twin, the corresponding Modbus addresses for each of these devices are added, which will then be used by the module when reading from and writing to the registers. In the same way, other configuration parameters can be set, such as the frequency with which data should be read and sent.
With BACE it is possible to connect an installed base of Modbus devices to a Cloud platform, with minimal work in the field. Installation work is limited to connecting the module to the Modbus bus and to a 230V (or 120V) power supply. This can be performed by an installer with little training. Configuring the Modbus bus can then be done remotely by an expert through the device twin, and in many cases can be largely automated.