WHITEPAPERHow “Industrial Cloud Communications” Delivers the Benefits of Internet-Connected Manufact, Überblick


WHITEPAPERHow “Industrial Cloud Communications” Delivers the Benefits of Internet-Connected Manufacturing

background image



How  “Industrial  Cloud  Communications”  Delivers  the Benefits of Internet-Connected Manufacturing

background image

How “Industrial Cloud Communications” Delivers the Benefits of

Internet-Connected Manufacturing

By: Armin Pühringer, Hilscher Gesellschaft für System Automation mbH

The Internet of Things is promising major operational benefits, although no one is quite sure where IoT

will take manufacturing. IoT represents a closing of the gap between production and IT and is seen as the

next big step for automation.

It is an opportunity for the data we generate for manufacturing control to be shared with Internet-based

applications to bring enterprise-wide advantage. At the same time it promises to extend the reach of

control networks right down to the lowest automation level, to make plant monitoring more efficient.

New ways of using the data will transform our Operational Technologies (OT) and integrate them more

closely with enterprise Information Technologies (IT) and systems.

Hilscher encourages all manufacturers – vendors and users– to gain experience with IoT as soon as

possible. We are leading the way by introducing a range of products that enable IoT deployment today at

zero risk to existing systems and equipment.

The products range from embedded IoT interfaces for the lowest level devices up to gateways that

share data over the internet and through to support services such as remote configuration and predictive

maintenance. In addition, on-premise “local cloud” services are brought within reach of the control

cabinet. To make the assessment of IoT as easy as possible, Hilscher is establishing partnerships with

cloud-based service suppliers. IBM Bluemix™ is the first of these. Others are expected during 2016. By

purchasing services through these partners on as as-needed basis, access to IoT is made easier for

users, and at a cost that can be easily justified.


What is the Internet of Things?

The “Internet of Things” is a phrase of convenience describing how everything in the world could be

connected via the internet, with a view to each and every “thing” interacting somehow with the rest.

Clearly it’s a “catch-all” phrase that lacks clarity, but it’s become a useful brand label for what many

people think of as “the future.”

In reality, the Internet of Things can mean anything to anybody. For example, in the domestic context, it

can involve connecting household appliances – even vehicles - to a home hub and having some kind of

central intelligence control how the house operates.

For example, if a stove senses that a car is on its way back to the house, it can turn itself on to start

cooking a meal. Or the alarm system can be turned off, or the heating turned up and the garage doors

opened just as we arrive. And if some of these systems can be connected centrally to fire or police au-

thorities, then further benefits can arise too.


Home automation was an early example of IoT hype in action. It is faltering now because of an issue that

we automation users have known since the dawn of digitalization – a lack of standards leading to market


A better example is health, where you and I may become “things” on the network. If our health records

can be monitored centrally, and our doctors can access our personal data live while talking to us over

the internet, then both the health and the economic benefits could be massive.


background image

Railways, street lamps and similar applications have been quoted as other examples of IoT in action. In

manufacturing automation the examples are few at the moment but, ironically, automation is where

“Industrial IoT” may well catch on most quickly. That’s because we’re perfectly at ease with monitoring

our equipment and systems already.

Data flies around our networks continually, all of it available for a variety of uses beyond automation

control. We’ve been doing it for decades and concepts like remote machine diagnostics and predictive

maintenance are widely practiced today. If we extend these benefits and add more, then the outcome

could indeed be world-changing.

In effect, Industrial IoT represents the integration of (OT) Operating Technologies and (IT) Infor-

mation Technologies. In automation, the benefits could include higher efficiencies, greater up times,

faster repairs, and higher quality. More significant benefits could arise however if IoT can deliver fresh

insights into how our plants work and enable us to operate them in better ways.

New business models become possible, opening up new opportunities for vendors and customers.

For example, it may be possible for devices and systems to be marketed under leasing or pay-per-use

concepts, or for vendors to reach new target groups.

Key elements of IoT

The Industrial IoT is broadly made up of the following elements:

The Cloud : The physical systems in cyber-space on which IoT depends. These can be compa-

ny-owned, though currently there’s more emphasis on outsourcing.  This brings immediate

benefits because it passes the financial and operating responsibilities to a third party. Amazon

was one of the first suppliers to offer this capability. Users send their data into “the cloud,” and

hence the processing and security of that data also rests with the third party. In automation,

the controls vendors have a natural interest in providing cloud services and we’ll probably see

important developments from them in due course. Many existing MES, ERP and similar IT-

level systems will migrate to the cloud.

Big Data: As more and more plant data is made available to the cloud its volume, velocity and

variety increases. Conventional database technologies can no longer cope, so new ways of

handling the data must be found. Apache Hadoop and Spark are just two of the open source

solutions being implemented by major cloud suppliers.

W eb Services: Cloud suppliers have responded to the demand for powerful new applications with

a range of web services that are bought on an “as-needed” basis. Fundamental to automation

are the analytics needed for discovering those “fresh insights” that will lead to better plant oper-

ations. How these services develop will depend on the suppliers. IT-centric companies who’ve

been supplying services to business for years are reaching into this marketplace now. Control

system vendors who have considerable automation applications experience are introducing web-

based solutions. Exciting developments can be expected as competitive pressures drive



background image

Existing Strategic Initiatives

Various “communities” around the world are looking at how Industrial IoT can enhance the manufactu-

ring industries. Here is an overview:

Industry 4.0: The Platform Industry 4.0 project is centred on German-speaking countries. Indust-

ry 4.0 has at its heart the concept of Cyber Physical Systems (CPS), whereby automation sys-

tems are based partly on the plant floor and partly in the cloud. It requires new thinking being

thrashed out behind the scenes now. It is a technical approach and we can expect exciting

developments as the ideas are fully explored.

The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC): IIC is a North American initiative to define how Industrial

IoT can be implemented. This is taking a more conceptual top-down approach. It avoids defining

standards, and bases its conclusions/recommendations on established ways of working. It

recently completed a working document and has established test beds for better assessing how

things can work. Cyber Physical Systems are encompassed by IIC too.

Asian Interests: China and Japan have both established national initiatives to address IoT. China

has “Made in China 2025” its national strategy. Japan’s is named the “Industrial Value Initiative,”

or IVI, aimed at re-building that country’s manufacturing base. Big company interests may take

precedence in that country however. The recent announcement of collaboration between the

German-based PI organization (representing PROFINET and PROFIBUS) and the CC Link

Partners Association (CCLP) suggests that the Japanese and European strategies may


Hilscher is engaged in all of these initiatives, working alongside industry leaders towards common



Figure 1: CPS Model

background image

Communications, Networking and Standards

Hilscher’s interests lie mainly in the communications infrastructure of IoT. This Whitepaper focuses on

those in particular.

No current protocol standards are threatened by IoT. IoT functionality will by-pass control systems

and PLCs so legacy equipment and systems will not be obsoleted. IoT capitalizes on the data available

from existing networks. In effect IoT systems become extensions of our Industrial Ethernet and fieldbus


Some standards overlap. For example, OPC UA is likely to be favored in the Industry 4.0 context. Where

fresh standards are needed, for example in transmitting data to the Cloud, well-proven standards from

other sectors will be adopted. MQTT, a low overhead protocol used in lightweight M2M communication,

is one example. There are other candidates, such as DDS. Hilscher has long been associated with

connectivity solutions for the popular protocols found on the factory floor. Our own netX chip was desi-

gned with that in mind. It turns out that netX is an ideal interface for IoT too.


Figure 2: OPC UA will play a big role in IoT, particularly in the Industry 4.0 context

Figure 3: MQTT, a lightweight protocol for machine to machine

applications is ideal for IoT use, from embedded devices to the Cloud

background image


You’ll probably realize from the above that IoT and Industrial IoT are parts of a bigger picture. From an

automation standpoint, the “Industrial Internet” is probably the best way of naming what’s really hap-

pening. For our purposes, we use “IoT” as a generic term covering all the different aspects. Individual

solutions or strategies are specifically named when relevant.


As a leading supplier of connectivity solutions to the automation industries, Hilscher

began investigating the role of IoT in automation several years ago.

Historically, Hilscher’s netX chip family was developed to provide easy interfacing

to the many different networking protocols we see on our plants today. It supports

17 network protocols with 33 different master and slave stacks, all utilizing a com-

mon software and hardware interface, making it simple to integrate Fieldbus and

Ethernet networks.

With netX, vendors and OEMs don’t have to worry about the different technologies

or how they are implemented. They simply pick the required protocol (or gateway combinations) and fit

the solution into their equipment. From a hardware perspective, IoT is just another “gateway” challenge.

During 2015, many companies introduced IoT gateway products and considered themselves market lea-

ders. The trouble was that none of these products answered the most pertinent questions, such as: Why

do I need to do this? How do I determine what data to pick? How do I pick it? What do I do with that data

when it’s in the cloud?

No supplier company can answer all these questions by itself. End users, SIs and OEMs know the speci-

fics of their production machines and systems and they alone can optimize the effectiveness of IoT. It is

already clear that using IoT in automation may require new skills and disciplines beyond those of

controls engineering.

Hilscher can, however, provide the

tools to tackle the challenges.

Hilscher’s approach is based on

three levels of IoT engagement,

from sensor level to the cloud.


Figure 5: netIOT™ Edge-Gateway by-passes PLC control

operations to link network data to internet applications

Figure 4: netX, a universal

protocol converter/gate-

way for networking, will

play a vital role in IoT.

background image

In summary they are:

netIOT™ Interface: A chip-based module allowing IoT data to be gathered directly from the

lowest level devices such as field sensors.

netIOT™ Edge: Gateways for securely transmitting data from existing networks into the cloud.

netIOT™ Service: Applications based on partnerships with IT-centric cloud-based suppliers

supplying remote processing capabilities.

Hilscher’s tools make IoT transparently available to all users today. They are the most sophisticated

third-party approach to Industrial Internet yet seen in automation and they make the benefits of IoT rea-

dily accessible to anyone.

Hilscher encourages all vendors and users to gain experience with IoT as soon as possible. We are

leading the way by introducing a range of products that enable IoT deployment today at zero risk to

existing systems and equipment.


For us, the Industrial Internet and Industry 4.0 are the fourth industrial revolution, one which requires

end-to-end communication from the sensor into the cloud. We call our approach “Industrial Cloud Com-

munication” and netIOT™ is the family name for our IoT products and services.


netIC IOT: A DIL-32 embedded module for field sensors and instru-

mentation. It is the first IoT-enabled communications module for field


devices and it places IoT functionality right at the point of measure-

ment. It is equipped with an OPC UA server and an MQTT client in

addition to its communications components. This makes it possible to

access a field device via the TCP/IP channel of an Industrial Ethernet

network using the same physical cables but without PLC involvement.

It provides users with the foundation of cloud-networked data


netIOT™ Edge-Gateways: These securely couple automation net-

works to a cloud. They are also the main configuration element for

netIOT™ field devices – e.g. for the parameterization of sensors

and actuators. netIOT™ Edge-Gateways also offer easy access for

diagnostics. Web-based monitoring is supported and wireless connec-

tivity opens up remote access to mobile devices, so it becomes poss-

ible to read and load configurations using mobile devices such as

tablets and smart phones. Software solutions supporting data extrac-

tion and processing - either locally or in the cloud - are in hand. As

I/O devices, they can cyclically exchange data with the PLC. Thanks

to “drag&drop” there is no need for programming, just configuration

and wiring. On-Premise Processing: One version of netIOT Edge has enough CPU capacity to support

“on-premise” processing of data. This offers a “local cloud” option for end users wanting to process data

inside their own operating environment, to avoid any security concerns resulting from the use of a third

party remote cloud.


background image


Hilscher has recognized the need to provide IoT users with ways to gain experience easily at the lowest

possible cost. With that in mind, a series of partnerships with major cloud-based suppliers is being esta-


The first is with IBM’s Bluemix solution, which delivers a range of cloud-based applications. netIOT™

Edge-Gateways are already configured to work with Bluemix applications. Information from the field de-

vices is transmitted to Bluemix by means of a Node-RED interface. Shorter time to market and ongoing

maintenance are the most important advantages. By purchasing services only on as as-needed basis,

access to IoT is made easy, and at a cost that can be controlled by the end user.


For Device makers: The challenge for sensor manufacturers today lies in

making devices ready for the IoT environment. IoT depends on data, and

acquisition has to happen at source: i.e. over the “last mile” and right in the

field devices.  With netIC IOT and IO-Link, Hilscher paves the way to more

intelligent field devices that communicate better, ensuring end-to-end

networkability that meets the needs of the Industrial Internet and Industry 4.0.

Here are some of the benefits:

• You can report telemetry data - in addition to classic I/O data - via


• You can provide customers with the foundation for cloud-networked

data management.

• You can integrate the right technology now, giving customers the

option of using “the cloud” when they are ready.

• You can integrate your own features without changing the functions

required by the control system or network. This allows device

differentiation and the chance to beat the competition.

• For manufacturers of larger equipment, e.g. large drives, new

business opportunities will open up. Devices could be marketed

with leasing or pay-per-use concepts and new target groups could

be reached with new investment models.

For Machine and Plant Engineering Vendors:

In coming years, Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet will be a reality in plants, so IoT functionality will

be demanded by the market. Since the service life of machines and plants is often longer than ten years,

netIOT™ offers the opportunity to cover these future smart factory requirements now.


background image

• Direct data transmission to a mobile device by means of IoT telegrams enables consistent

processes despite different customer systems.

• Diagnostics data and bus topology are read from the field devices by the Edge-Gateway and

transmitted to tablets or smartphones with a WiFi connection via browser or app.

• Access to the cloud system is enabled from any point. PLC-independent bus diagnostics can be

made during commissioning and field device data can be directly accessed.

• Sensors can be precisely adjusted on site without special coupling modules.

• Manufacturer-independent diagnostics and commissioning run independently of the PLC.

• Intelligent sensors connected to IP67 modules via I/O link allow for direct data querying.

• Remote configuration and diagnostics are possible. This gives mechanical and plant engineer-

ing companies unprecedented potential for optimization.

For System Providers: Future systems and equipment will rely heavily on IoT. The real advantage of

the Industrial Internet is that it enables cloud applications that are functionally more enriched, as well as

new business models.

The Industrial Internet will generate a mass of valuable data from sensors and actuators at field level

– big data that will lead to greater added value.  From that data will arise new opportunities, some not

yet apparent. System providers will increasingly be asked to implement IoT functionality and deliver the

capability to operate within an Industrial Internet infrastructure.


background image


A system provider therefore needs:

• Good access to field data, independent of control operations

• MQTT and OPC UA support to extend Industrial Ethernet communication at field level.

• Easy access to whatever cloud platform is selected.

• Cloud applications that use the data to generate greater added value.

• An infrastructure solution that has been coordinated and tested with the cloud platform


With many business IT vendors already shaping a multi-cloud landscape, system suppliers must react

now. For Hilscher’s netIOT™ Edge-Gateways, there is already a connection to IBM’s Bluemix cloud

platform offering a range of powerful applications options. More connections will be formalized soon.

About Hilscher Gesellschaft für Systemautomation mbH and Hilscher North America

Hilscher specializes in products, technologies and services at the leading edge of industrial commu-

nications. Core products include gateways, PC cards, embedded modules, chips, controllers and

supporting software stacks. Hilscher’s netX system-on-a-chip solution is a highly integrated network

controller optimized for communication and maximum data throughput. netX provides support for

33 different master and slave stacks and 17 industrial protocols, including DeviceNet, PROFIBUS,

CANopen, IO-Link, CC-Link, EtherNet/IP, PROFINET, Modbus TCP and EtherCAT, among others.

With universal network connectivity, netX is the backbone of the company’s extensive family of net-

work interface products and custom solutions.


background image



background image



Hilscher Systemautomation (Shanghai) Co. Ltd.

200010 Shanghai

Phone: +86 (0) 21-6355-5161

E-Mail: info@hilscher.cn


Phone: +86 (0) 21-6355-5161

E-Mail: cn.support@hilscher.com


Hilscher France S.a.r.l.

69500 Bron

Phone: +33 (0) 4 72 37 98 40

E-Mail: info@hilscher.fr


Phone: +33 (0) 4 72 37 98 40

E-Mail: fr.support@hilscher.com


Hilscher India Pvt. Ltd.

New Delhi - 110 065

Phone:  +91 11 26915430

E-Mail: info@hilscher.in


Hilscher Italia S.r.l.

20090 Vimodrone (MI)

Phone: +39 02 25007068

E-Mail: info@hilscher.it


Phone: +39 02 25007068

E-Mail: it.support@hilscher.com


Hilscher Japan KK

Tokyo, 160-0022

Phone: +81 (0) 3-5362-0521

E-Mail: info@hilscher.jp


Phone: +81 (0) 3-5362-0521

E-Mail: jp.support@hilscher.com


Hilscher Korea Inc.

Seongnam, Gyeonggi, 463-400

Phone: +82 (0) 31-789-3715

E-Mail: info@hilscher.kr


Hilscher Swiss GmbH

4500 Solothurn

Phone: +41 (0) 32 623 6633

E-Mail: info@hilscher.ch


Phone: +49 (0) 6190 9907-99

E-Mail: ch.support@hilscher.com


Hilscher North America, Inc.  Lisle, IL 60532

Phone: +1 630-505-5301

E-Mail: info@hilscher.us


Phone: +1 630-505-5301
E-Mail: us.support@hilscher.com




Hilscher Gesellschaft für

Systemautomation mbH

Rheinstrasse 15

65795 Hattersheim

Phone: +49 (0) 6190 9907-0

Fax:     +49 (0) 6190 9907-50

E-Mail: info@hilscher.com


Phone: +49 (0) 6190 9907-99

E-Mail: de.support@hilscher.com


Copyright Hilscher 2016