Decentralized plant control and monitoring

Connection to Industry 4.0

Many small and medium-sized companies have some catching up to do when it comes to plant monitoring. Conventional monitoring systems are usually too expensive for them. The IoT portal Ubix aims to fill this gap.

In an interview with a local Flensburg newspaper, Ubix CEO Gerd Witzel explained his company’s purpose in simple terms. According to Witzel, Ubix is the industrial equivalent of the remote-controlled smart home: biogas plants, feed silos, virtual power plant, automated meter reading, plant monitoring including measurements. With the application, all connected plants can be viewed worldwide.

The CEO describes the advantage of Ubix as follows: “The scalable IIoT platform is relatively easy to use and can be integrated into existing systems without much effort. The cloud-based software-as-a-service approach makes the platform significantly less expensive than conventional control and monitoring solutions and also suitable for use in smaller plants.

“The Ubix platform offers a variety of interfaces to integrate different control systems and controllers for plant monitoring across different industries,” says Torsten Kraemer, Head of Projects & Solutions at Ubix, describing the platform’s approach.

Do you have any questions?
Feel free to contact us.

We have both the competence
as well as the products and

As an example, he cites the monitoring of industrial valves: Sensors record the status and diagnostic information of individual components such as pumps or valves on site and transmit this information to a mobile communications gateway via wireless hard, for example. Because the gateway transmits data by radio, it does not need to be integrated into the production network. This simplifies IT security management. In the Ubix portal, software evaluates, for example, vibration and temperature values of the pump. A traffic light visualizes their condition. If it lights up yellow, there is still a time buffer of a few days before the pump must be serviced. As soon as the traffic light changes, the portal software informs the service employee. This person can dial into the portal, view the current and historical values of the pump and initiate the necessary maintenance work.

The user only needs a browser

“The plant operator receives a wide range of evaluation and monitoring functions via the portal. He only needs his browser to use it. This allows him to access live data, configure alarms or set up periodic reporting. Key performance indicators can be visualized in a dashboard. In addition, plant-specific documents such as operating instructions or operating permits can be stored in the portal,” describes manager Kraemer.

With the MC100 cellular gateway from MC Technologies, Ubix provides an interface to enable remote maintenance access via the cellular connection.

Access via the mobile network

“The MC100 gateway is open to plant-specific interfaces, has a high-quality 3G or 4G cellular module built in, and comes with Linux pre-installed and freely programmable. This means we can always connect a wide variety of systems with the same software,” says Kraemer. The gateway contains digital and analog inputs and outputs and can be optionally expanded to provide, for example, individual machine or sensor interfaces, WLAN, an M-Bus interface or the MQTT protocol. The internal interfaces are exposed for application-specific extensions. The data is stored on the integrated flash memory and a micro SD card.

Ubix provides the infrastructure

Monitoring a component or an entire plant can be implemented in a very simple way with Ubix, Kraemer affirms. “You don’t have to worry about interfaces, data acquisition, data transmission costs, data encryption or authorized access. With the Ubix portal, the necessary infrastructure is already in place.” All the necessary components for connecting an industrial plant are fully configured at Ubix and then sent to the operator. The operator can commission the transmission components on site without outside help. As soon as the plant is connected, the mobile radio gateway automatically establishes a connection to the portal. From this point on, all functions for monitoring, control and operational management are available. The mobile communications gateway continuously checks the availability of the data connection.

This includes transmission to the mobile network, the Internet and finally to the central portal. The individual stages are tested cyclically, and failed connections are rebuilt. If a data connection is interrupted, the running sensor and plant data are time-stamped and initially stored temporarily on an SD card of the gateway

An integrated firewall protects the gateway from unauthorized access. In addition, certificates that uniquely identify the recipient are used to authenticate the remote peer. Finally, the transport route is securely encrypted end-to-end when data is transmitted via a virtual data tunnel (virtual private network, VPN). Ubix also operates the portal in a security-certified data center that is subject to German data protection standards.

Do you have any questions? Feel free to contact us.

Talk to us: We have both the expertise and the products and solutions.