The new EK9160 IoT Bus Coupler connects Beckhoff EtherCAT I/Os with the Microsoft Azure™ cloud directly and without the need for any specific control program. The coupler thus offers simple and standardised integration of I/O data with cloud-based communication and data services. The “Azure™ Certified” status of the device fulfils an important requirement in this regard for a seamless and easily configured connection via an integrated website to the Azure™ IoT Hub. To demonstrate the fast integration of industrial processes with the Azure™ cloud, Beckhoff presented a modular production line consisting of a linear transport system (Beckhoff XTS) linked with a pick-and-place robot. Process variables, such as energy or condition monitoring data for example, are stored and analysed in the Azure™ cloud: through predictive maintenance, the availability of monitored systems can be increased.
The TwinCAT IoT software package contains various products for implementing MQTT and AMQP functionalities directly through the controller by means of function modules. Furthermore, the TwinCAT IoT Data Agent represents an easy-to-configure gateway application that not only transmits data from advanced TwinCAT 3 controllers but also process data from TwinCAT 2 systems as well as from third-party provider systems via OPC UA to Microsoft Azure™ communication services.
Beckhoff also presented the world’s first industrial automation controller with Windows 10 IoT Core Pro, the CX51xx Embedded PC, at the Microsoft booth during Hannover Fair. The controller captures the energy data of a consumer and supplies the process data to the Azure™ cloud by means of standardised communication. As an early adopter in the OPC UA Pub/Sub working group, Beckhoff will also be the first company in the world to present the direct OPC UA-AMQP connection directly from the device to the OPC UA-AMQP Azure™ cloud services.
Diverse Customer Segments And Target Industries
The simple IoT connectivity for Azure™ cloud services that Beckhoff automation technology provides encompasses all areas of industry. On one hand, this stretches from linking modular sensor technology to the integration of a complete industrial robot. On the other hand, advantages are offered for use in machines and systems, in wind turbines as well as in buildings or urban infrastructure systems.
The advantages of Beckhoff automation technology can be utilised in all of these application areas, for example:
- World’s first industrial automation controller with Windows 10 IoT Core Pro and integrated OPC UA-AMQP publisher connectivity to the Azure™ cloud (for energy data acquisition in production, machines and buildings)
- Powerful many-core controllers with 36 cores running Windows 10 IoT Enterprise for controlling the smart factory (manufacturing scenario)
- Easily configurable connectivity between industrial applications and Azure™ services
- Highly integrated control solution for measurement technology, logic control and cloud services
- Picture credits: Beckhoff Automation