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When Real and Digital Worlds Collide

Cloud Asset Management by M&M Software


With the development of the Asset Management Cloud, M&M has created a foundation for industrial applications, like energy management and predictive maintenance. The company, part of the WAGO Group, offers a comprehensive solution package for cloud connectivity – both in production and buildings.

The hype around Industry 4.0 has subsided and settled into a long-term trend. Now, we need to specifically implement Industry 4.0 technology to generate added value for our own companies. Cloud and big data solutions represent the foundation for this to succeed. After all, big data offers potential for linking data available in production and for detecting anomalies. This is the only way to prevent potential disruptions and shorten downtimes. Cloud solutions are a first step along this path. They are both flexible and scalable, as well as provide a high degree of availability and the potential for centralized access. Thus they are becoming the tool of choice for industrial applications. With the development of the Asset Management Cloud, M&M facilitates data evaluation in the cloud, which provides a foundation for diverse, user-specific solutions, including energy management and predictive maintenance.

Comprehensive Approach

M&M includes experts in software solutions within the industrial and technical fields. The company is located in Germany’s Black Forest, with services spanning management and technology advising, software design and development, and quality assurance. M&M’s membership in the WAGO Group means they already have an “in-house” partner for comprehensive solutions, including hardware. “For us, it is essentially about providing a platform which represents a link between elements of the real and the digital worlds. This includes, on the one hand, decentralized data acquisition and automation, and on the other side, enabling new data-driven business models in industry,” explains Frank Schmid, Head of Business Unit System Solutions at M&M. Decentralized data acquisition and the availability of these data, from the field level up to the cloud, as well as cross-location access to current and historical data, all play decisive roles. They form the basis for application-specific solutions for visualization and monitoring, as well as business intelligence applications.

Impressive Hardware

M&M establishes the connection to the field level using the WAGO-I/O-SYSTEM 750, including PFC controllers that transmit data to the cloud. In addition, they use an IoT Connector, a software package developed by M&M, which is executed on the PFC. It connects the IEC-61131 application on the PFC to Microsoft Azure, can transmit data to the cloud, and receive commands from the cloud. Communication between the IoT Connector and the cloud is encrypted and performed via the MQTT protocol. The IoT Connector thus offers the potential for retrofitting connections between the PFC family of controllers and Microsoft’s Azure IoT Suite. You can easily and quickly implement your own small IoT applications using the IoT Connector starter kit for the WAGO PFC. “Users don’t have to be experts in software development. With support from M&M, IEC-61131 programming knowledge is sufficient,” explains Schmid. The WAGO controllers, both the PFC100 and PFC200, thus form the platform that represents the link between the elements of the real and digital worlds. They also offer a variety of interfaces, forming the perfect foundation for an IoT gateway. They can acquire every field signal, communicate in all industrial protocols, and even enable cloud connection to sensors and actuators that themselves have no Internet interfaces.

Reliable Partners

M&M collaborates closely with Microsoft in the cloud and Internet of Things, and implements corresponding solutions, preferably using Azure. “Microsoft Azure is highly scalable in relation to computing power, data storage, transactions, availability, and security standards. It offers a quickly growing number of services and tools, making it an optimal foundation for implementing solutions tailored to our customers,” Schmid explains in listing the reasons for their selection. Another positive point for the Microsoft solution lies in the fact that the computing centers in Germany are operated by the Telekom subsidiary, T-System. As a data trustee, T-System controls access to customer data.

Individual and Flexible

The Asset Management Could manages and monitors the WAGO controllers, as well as their applications and data. A Web portal functions as a user interface to the Asset Management Cloud services. Customers have access to functions – like project, controller, and user management, controller status monitoring, alarm functions, and email messaging – through the gateway. A dashboard displays texts, tables, diagrams, display elements, and command buttons for comfortable and transparent operation. In user-specific solutions, REST or OPC-UA interfaces are used, for example, in energy and/or condition monitoring.

The advantages of tailored asset management solutions from M&M are obvious: decentralized data can be easily acquired and provided for centralized use. They can also be stored and analyzed locally. In addition, the customer defines which data are transmitted to the cloud. This means that sensitive data do not leave the company. Another advantage: Customers do not need their own IT infrastructure or software for the solutions, which means they no longer need to worry about operations and maintenance, leading to reduced initial costs. WAGO and M&M jointly provide a complete solution, including hardware, software and additional services. The IoT Connector on the WAGO PFC is additionally configured to flexibly establish cloud connections. The application enables configuration using diverse protocols. Other connections can also be implemented, for example, to the Amazon Cloud, instead of Azure.

Text: Nils Wigger I WAGO
Photo: WAGO