Ardexa is an open architecture platform, therefore a user can theoretically establish almost any type of industrial machine connection.
Industrial connections are typically a confusing mix of modern information technology (IT) elements with engineering operational technology (OT). Physical communications may not always be Ethernet based, and can include elements such as serial or Bluetooth. Similarly, data protocols used over these physical communications have originated over a long period. Many data protocols originated before Internet connectivity was a reality. As a consequence, even something as simple as addressing structures are often unique and can even be specific to a manufacturer, with limited discoverability functionality available. In recent times, this landscape has been further impacted by the emergence of open automation standards (such as Modbus and OPC UA), as well as industry driven standards (such as Sunspec in solar energy industry).
Ardexa has significant experience with these machine connection methods. There are normally very few issues with these connections. Only where equipment manufacturers do not share their data protocols, then machine connections establishment can be a more difficult task.
The most common industrial connections used with the Ardexa platform can be grouped as follows:
- Modbus - most commonly found in automation networks and used by machine manufactures and control designers that want data to flow freely between components. Modbus is extensively used in TCP and RTU versions.
- OPC - Classic / UA / XML - commonly used with legacy PLC or SCADA systems, and includes traditional DCOM based OPC Classic servers, or the more modern OPC UA version.
- Embedded web servers - mostly found in data loggers, historians and protocol converters which incorporate a web server in the design. In such cases, data can be extracted by using standard IT tools and methods.
- Proprietary protocols - developed by equipment manufacturers (may be openly shared or closed). It is important that users understand clearly whether the manufacturer in question provides the protocol details openly. It has also been evident that some manufacturers publish different versions of the protocol, each offering a differing level of data access.
- Image and video outputs - automation is no longer complete without the intelligent capture and use of images and video. Most common is the use of HTTP and RTSP. Given bandwidth impacts of moving this data, much of the processing of such captures needs to be done at the edge.
So, can Ardexa connect to your machine?
The primary determinant is the willingness of the machine manufacturer to share data protocol and access permission credentials. If the manufacturer supports openly sharing such information, then the plugin development is procedural and completed within a reasonable time.
Ardexa will openly share plugin availability on a case-by-case basis, due to the extensive repository of plugins. Once we have machine details, including brand, model, protocol identification, connection method and machine protocol documentation, we can easily confirm the connection, even if Ardexa have to build the plugin for you.
If you would like to confirm with Ardexa if a specific machine connection is possible, please ask. We will willingly confirm the situation before commencing your project.