The transition toward increasingly digitized companies also involves interconnecting industrial machinery called legacy machines: these assets have an average lifetime of 20 years, yet, still function correctly and represent a very important resource for both SMEs and large companies. Let’s see how this works.

This type of asset is called brownfield and represents the real challenge for current digitalization. The 4ZeroBox Mobile represents a versatile and secure solution with which to interconnect, apparently, non-digitizable assets to company information services.

Why retrofitting?

One in five companies fail to introduce IoT technologies and there is ,on average, € 500,000 in annual losses due to the lack of integration between systems. In this context of uncertainty, almost all companies detect security issues related to their IIoT.

To meet both needs, we have developed a mobile solution that allows you to take different quantities from your machinery plus guaranteeing the highest cybersecurity standard available at the moment.

 Thanks to the use of expansion cards it is possible to collect a lot of data in the most common standard formats (digital, 4-20 mA, 0-10V or temperature with NTC), making analysis and management of information easy and immediate from machinery, both old and new generation, by exploiting the potential of retrofitting. All of this happening while using wifi or mobile communication via SIM.

How does the process happen?

A retrofitting signal acquisition process consists of three main steps: taking data from the machines, sending it to the cloud, and showing it on a dashboard.

In Figure 1 you can see the final result. It contains both the time series with the power consumption being measured every minute, and information relating to production or the machine’s status. In the next few paragraphs we will address each of the steps described above with an overview.

Figure 1. Dashboard displaying data related to machinery activity.

Electric absorption, the skeleton of the digital twin

On almost all machinery, electric consumption represents the entry-point signal for which a retrofitting strategy is applied. Through non-invasive sensors, such as a clamp meter, it is possible to obtain a lot of information starting with the machine’s consumption, since, today, it has assumed a strategic importance of the first magnitude.

To do this, the 4ZeroBox Mobile, natively, has 6 analog input channels, but also a provision for adding expansion modules with which to monitor other signals such as 4-20mA, 0-10V or temperatures with NTC.

But, not only: from the absorbed current value is  it possible to deduce the state of activity of the machinery by identifying simple thresholds up to the pattern of production cycles even in continuous flow processes with nesting. Nesting is a particular process arranging cutting models that reduces, to a minimum, the waste of raw materials.

The electrical absorption, thus, becomes the skeleton on which to build the digital twin for the machinery.

Network connection and cybersecurity

Minimizing the surface for cyber-attacks is the first step towards better security. To achieve effective and secure digitization, it is necessary not to underestimate the threats of attacks on individual machines, and not just on employees’ PCs.

The 4ZerBox Mobile, like all the products in the Zerynth line, has a crypto element that performs all the functions of authentication and encryption of messages via TLS. Finally, the microcontroller intelligence allows exclusive communication to the Zerynth Cloud, greatly minimizing the possibility of an external attack.

If you want technical insights into TLS and cybersecurity, check out our CTO in this internal refresher lesson.

WiFi and GSM – never again without a network

Thanks to GSM and WiFi connections, sending data to the cloud is no longer a problem. Through both solutions it is possible to connect machinery covered by company networks and those operating in external environments.

At this link you can see how, by using mobile connections, we are able to monitor cutting machines in marble quarries.

Dashboards are just a click away

Charts, time series and all the useful tools needed to extract insights are available on the dashboarding service of the Zerynth Cloud. From a single portal it is possible to manage the devices installed and monitor the functioning of machines in real time.

The following image shows an analysis dashboard called Get Connected, the first digitization step offered by Zerynth in which the machine status, pieces produced, and consumption are analyzed.

Figure 2. Typical dashboard of Get Connected solutions

To see how easy it is to develop a first project with 4ZeroBox Mobile, take a look at this Getting Started article. If you are intrigued by our product and want to order it, you will find all the information at our official page.