Contrary to the ideal image of Industry 4.0, many machines are still not digitally networked with each other and the existing system, nor are they equipped with the latest communication technologies. These machines have been in production halls for years and decades and need to be connected in the same way as newly installed machines.
To fully benefit from the advantages of machine networking, a retrofit is essential. This means that older machines must be equipped with modern hardware (edge device) and software to integrate them into the company's digital infrastructure. This upgrade allows images to be sent as attachments and referenced in the text. In this way, companies can ensure that even their oldest systems continue to generate valuable data and thus help to optimize processes and increase efficiency. Central to this process is the challenge of providing a link between the connection and data flow of "IT" and "OT". Against this background, a solution is needed that masters this challenge and brings hardware and software together. Long-standing companies often have machines from different manufacturers, which can be configured differently on the software side. Technological developments, both in hardware and software, are also progressing at an increasing pace. To ensure efficient data acquisition, smooth operation is required. Accordingly, a platform must be able to interact with any machine and IT system, regardless of machine control, hardware, and communication language.
One such platform is Nerve from TTTech Industrial, our strategic partner in the field of edge computing. On the one hand, Nerve includes an integrated real-time virtual machine with which all known industrial communication protocols can be configured. Even industrial machines with outdated machine control systems can be connected to a modern IT infrastructure. Connecting the machine via the edge device has the advantage for the machine manufacturer that they are not forced to implement a new protocol or an additional interface. On the other hand, the edge device is equipped with a data gateway via the system platform. This enables unhindered and immediate communication between the platform and the machine. The widely used communication protocols are already preconfigured in this gateway. Protocols such as MQTT, OPC UA, and zeroMQ are integrated accordingly, and all relevant basic functions are supported without restriction. This means that users only need to configure their data points and have a data connection from the machine to the platform, which ensures smooth data acquisition.