Concept Reply developed a fully customisable microservices technology enabler, for managing a range of IoT devices within the industry 4.0 context.
Edge computing has made a name for itself as a crucial enabling element for the technological transformation underlying the industry 4.0 paradigm. Indeed, edge technology enables IoT applications and devices to process and store critical data locally, so that pre-processing and filtering activities can be carried out before the data is transferred to cloud computing systems or storage systems.
By reducing the distance and the quantity of packets sent to remote solutions, edge computing technology ensures total scalability and flexibility at a low cost, as well as constituting a protective layer against cyber-attacks. With IoT devices located near their user, the same devices are able to manage the workflow without interruptions even in the event of network problems, thus ensuring data resilience.
Concept Reply has designed and developed a digital solution capable of exploiting the full potential of edge computing, while managing a multiplicity of IoT devices. The solution, which is capable of implementing and guaranteeing data flows, is based on fully customisable micro-services managed by a central orchestrator. The data flow source can consist of any physical or virtual environment that needs to be monitored, controlled and managed: offices with sensors, factories using programmable logic controllers (PLCs), warehouses or databases. Once processed locally, the data can be sent to cloud computing platforms for persistence, complex processing and/or the management of instructions and commands.
The solution can also be applied to contexts in which retrofitting is required for non-sensorised machinery. In fact, thanks to the addition of ad-hoc sensors, the solution makes it possible to retrieve data and information even from contexts that do not natively provide it, in addition to storing, processing and forwarding the same data according to specific needs.
Concept Reply's IIoT solution makes it possible to take full advantage of edge computing technology, thanks to a number of features that make it an optimal solution within the industry 4.0 context.
The solution’s microservices-based architecture makes it easily scalable and customisable for the specific requirements of different contexts. In addition to the services that make up the core of the solution, it is possible to design and integrate new “plug & play” services, such as:
• Data collection from smart objects and sensors
• Data collection from PLCs, databases or shared folders
• Sending data and instructions to PLCs, actuators, sensors and databases
• Data processing and forwarding to cloud services
Concept Reply's IIoT solution is based on an architecture distributed over multiple nodes – such as physical machines, virtual machines or industrial gateways – which guarantees system continuity and reliability. This feature makes it an ideal solution for environments where business continuity must be guaranteed, such as production lines or production monitoring systems. In fact, in the event of failures on one or more nodes, the affected microservices are automatically redistributed on the remaining healthy nodes, thus minimising downtime.
The platform is a unique and complete solution for managing data flows from the field (plant, production line, etc.) to the cloud, through the adoption of three levels of microservices:
• LEVEL 1: Interface with physical devices for data collection. Uses different communication protocols based on the type of device concerned.
• LEVEL 2: Local data processing and filtering. Guarantees an almost real-time analysis, based on the logic defined for the specific context.
• LEVEL 3: Data transmission to cloud computing/cloud storage platforms or to MES, ERP, HMI systems.
Each microservices level is independent of subsequent levels, thus making the platform compatible with any type of use case:
• Data collection and processing
• Data collection and transmission
• Data collection, processing and transmission
Concept Reply’s solution can be installed and run on any device, regardless of its operating system and hardware configurations. Indeed, the solution is able to run on high performance devices such as industrial gateways or virtual machines, but also on devices characterised by a more limited performance such as low-performance microprocessors (as in the case of a simple Raspberry Pi). This also makes the solution particularly suitable for contexts in which high computing power cannot be guaranteed, or where resources are limited.
Thanks to its long-standing experience in the IoT field, in edge technologies and in the world of industrial production, Concept Reply is the ideal partner for the design and development of customised edge computing systems, for reducing implementation times and maximising the return on investment.
The use of the developed IIoT solution represents a concrete example: in fact, this solution makes it possible to exploit the full potential of edge computing, combined with the potential of smart objects in the industry 4.0 context. The expertise gained by Concept Reply and integrated into the solution, enables the monitoring and management of production lines, the recovery of data from sensors or the sending of commands in a rapid and automated manner, while at the same time guaranteeing a complete and comprehensive assistance on the platform.
Concept Reply is the Reply Group’s hardware and software development partner specialised in IoT innovation. Concept Reply offers solutions in smart Infrastructure, industrial IoT and connected vehicle realms, from the initial idea, through the conceptual phase to implementation, the operational phase and the support phase. The company’s numerous IoT specialists cover all aspects, from hardware design and development, to software implementation in embedded environments, to edge computing software or Cloud-based applications.