The truth about OT-IT Convergence

Today, many people talk about Industry 4.0. IT guys traditionally approach Industry 4.0 from a very high-tech perspective. Soon, they realized, industrial technologies, in particular, OT is harsh and less fancy than regular cloud and digital technologies they are familiar with. In GALEO we are hands-on. We deliver value filling the gap between the OT and IT. We truly believe in this convergence. We know very well the OT manufacturers and how they can embed digital modern digital technologies in their high-performance and robust products.

In this post, we show you a real implementation that uses a combination of OT and IT technologies to illustrate a very clever use-case today about the electric-mobility revolution.

INDUSTRY 4.0. The use case

The rise of native OT/IT convergent systems.

The Electric Mobility Revolution. This is a distributed OT connected to an ecosystem demand-response oriented.

Here is what we have in place:

  • EV Recharge infrastructure must be inter-connected by design. It is part of an ecosystem and can’t be understood without connectivity. In our projects, we are working with the real stuff, but here we are simulation the Recharge Point (RP) by using a Modbus TCP (server) simulator.
  • Modbus TCP is well extended and standard in the industry. To interact with the RP, we are using a soft-PLC or a PC-based PLC from Beckhoff. There we have a Modbus TCP client and MQTT software agentMQTTis a light-weight message protocol very convenient for Industrial devices.
  • In another machine, an industrial PC from Beckhoff again, we have deployed both, an MQTT broker and a Kafka producer/consumer. This piece of HW and SW is what we call the Edge Gateway. This Gateway allows us to manage the full life cycle (LCM) management of the HW and SW in productive environments. We use Docker as a high-level SO on top of a free BSD native SO.
  • The next step is about sending real-time data to a highly scalable and enterprise-ready streaming infrastructure like Confluent (the enterprise distribution of Apache Kafka). We have opted for Confluent Cloud provisioned in Azure. Confluent Cloud is a managed service for the Kafka infrastructure where you don’t care about the details of the infra. You just get the value from the very beginning by configuring topics and connectors and that’s all. The Confluent’s guys make their magic and you get your messages (telemetry, alerts, commands, etc.) right there.
  • When you work with Confluent Cloud, probably you were wondering, there is no tool or interface to see and plot my data? The answer is not yet ;( So you have to invent something from your own. In our case, we decided to use Node-RED as an automation platform but as a dashboard tool too. This is the great thing from Node-RED. You can do whatever you wish with your data, you have plenty of third-parties modules (like modules to connect to a Kafka instance) but also you can create simple dashboards to see the data in real-time.

So, yes! here we go. This is our final technical architecture:

But, we already told you, we are hands-on deliver. So this is how the thing looks like in reality.

In the end, it is just left to see the real monster working:

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We want to thank our partners Beckhoff and Confluent to support and help us with this initiative.