MAY-JUN 2018

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INTECH MAY/JUNE 2018 21 of a network. This function requires a powerful pro- cessor and an open operating system, such as Linux. The processor filters out anomalies, sorts relevant data, and creates exception-only reporting. The second function is securely storing and sharing data among databases, cloud platforms, Web services, and programmable logic control- lers (PLCs) using modern communication meth- ods. Sharing data with this wide range of hard- ware and software requires support for multiple communication options at both the hardware and software level. At the hardware level, multiple communica- tion ports are a must. Minimum requirements for modern systems include multiple gigabit Ether- net, USB, and serial ports. At the software or pro- tocol level, many protocols should be supported, including different variants of Ethernet, Modbus RTU and Modbus/TCP, and MQTT. Many industry offerings now include embed- ded support for multiple connectivity methods in their EPICs, including Ethernet and Modbus pro- tocols, plus OPC UA drivers and MQTT/Sparkplug. These methods give support now, and also provide for the future, as vendors are constantly updating their protocol support options. The third function of an edge processor is to bring data visibility to authorized personnel in several ways: on an integral touchscreen, on a local human-machine interface (HMI), and from any FACTORY AUTOMATION device capable of hosting a Web browser (figure 1). Many OEMs will find an integral touchscreen, and an HDMI port for optional connection to FAST FORWARD l Many remote access solutions require extensive IT assistance and support. l Newer solutions rely on open systems to simplify remote access, allowing it to be implemented by operations personnel. l These new solutions provide fast and secure remote access, along with simple implementation, which is particularly important for OEMs and their customers. Figure 1. Local monitoring, control, and adjustments are greatly facilitated by providing built-in HMI on the edge controller.

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