Case Study: Air Liquide, USA

Air Liquide can produce an extra 500 tons of output per year thanks to DataHub bridging and a DataHub script written by Software Toolbox.

Air Liquide uses conditional bridging for robust control

A recent article in CONTROL magazine tells how engineers at Air Liquide now have a standard way to connect the company’s air separation units.  These units need to work with a variety of distributed control systems in a number of locations. The challenge was to build a system flexible enough to connect to the different control systems without having to reconfigure each of them.

Using the Bridging interface in Skkynet’s DataHub industrial middleware, along with a custom DataHub script created in collaboration with Software Toolbox, Air Liquide has successfully installed their first system, and now plans to expand to more locations in a standard way.

“When Air Liquide shared their requirements with us, the DataHub came immediately to mind as the easiest and most reliable approach,” said Win Worrall of Software Toolbox, who worked closely with the engineering team.

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Case Study: Papeterie de Mandeure, France

French paper company, Papeterie de Mandeure, accesses data from their OT system and feeds it to their IT system and MES, using the DataHub.

Connecting the Worlds of IT and OT

Ever since the dawn of computing for commerce and industry, there has been a wide gap between the world of IT (Information Technology) and OT (Operations Technology).  Most of us are more familiar with IT—crunching numbers for financial applications, building databases for personnel records and corporate assets, and printing out sales reports, monthly earnings, and year-end statements.  The world of OT is more remote and esoteric—hidden behind firewalls and DMZs, sometimes on completely independent networks, mission-critical systems oversee the real-time processes that control a company’s production equipment and machinery.

Now, with the advent of Industry 4.0 and the Industrial IoT, these two worlds are being brought together.  In a recent article, The Internet of Things: Bridging the OT/IT divide, John Pepper, CEO and Founder of Managed 24/7, makes the case that the business value of operational data will be lost unless IT and OT learn to co-operate.  He said, “Unless organisations actively bridge the gap between OT and IT, the real operational benefits of the digital business will be lost.”

A risk of losing the prize

According to their research, companies are jumping on the IoT bandwagon and increasing their number of networked devices, but due to a lack of an overall policy to bridge the IT/OT gap, there is a real risk of losing the prize.  Critical OT information that has been unknown in the past is now becoming available, but only to those who know how to connect to it, and are willing to do so.

“Indeed, while the vast majority of new control systems used in buildings and factories – from water pumps to energy systems – include an Ethernet connection,” says Pepper, “few organisations are actively using this real-time insight to support CxO decision-making.”

Pepper’s call for deeper integration between the real-time data flowing through the OT world and the analytical capabilities of the IT world is a need that Skkynet was created to meet.  The predictive technologies that Pepper recommends can be realized and fully supported by Skkynet’s Industrial IoT technologies.  The vision of end-to-end monitoring and self-healing technologies that Pepper shares can become reality when we effectively connect the two worlds of IT and OT.

Case Study: Kimberly-Clark, Switzerland

Networking control and video systems for quality control using DataHub software

The Kimberly-Clark production facility in Niederbipp, Switzerland, is the leading tissue paper producer for Switzerland and Austria, supplying Hakle, Tela, Scott, Kleenex, and other popular brands of tissues for consumers throughout Europe.

In a recent upgrade to their video-based quality control system, Kimberly-Clark needed to connect their existing ABB QCS (Quality Control System) to a new, state-of-the-art Viconsys Process and Quality Vision System, to ensure the highest quality product. For implementation, they contacted Logic Park, an engineering and system integration company located in Thun, Switzerland.

“This project was a little unusual,” said Bruno Maurer, Head of Solutions at Logic Park. “The two systems had to be connected across a network. But each system was protected by a firewall, and each offered only an OPC server interface for data connections. We had to bridge these two OPC servers, passing the data across the network. Using DCOM for networking was out of the question, because it would open too many ports in the firewalls, and it is difficult to configure. What we needed was a way to tunnel the data across the network, and bridge the OPC servers at either end of the tunnel.”

To achieve these goals, Bruno turned to DataHub® software, which offers both OPC tunneling and bridging in a single, integrated product. He installed one DataHub instance on the same machine as the ABB QCS system, and connected it to that OPC server.

He then installed a second DataHub instance on the Viconsys computer, and connected it to the Viconsys OPC server. Then he configured the OPC tunnel, and was able to see both sets of data mirrored between the two DataHub instances. From there, it was a straightforward task to configure the necessary bridges to write data from one OPC server to the other OPC server. He had a test connection running in a several hours, and within a few days the new system was completely functional.

“DataHub software worked very well for this project,” said Bruno. “Taken by itself, the OPC tunnel is robust and secure. Combined with OPC bridging, this product has given us a complete and reliable way to network real-time data.”