WebConnector connects IoT and automation

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WebConnector connects IoT and automationWith the communication interface WebConnector, Bosch Rexroth is building a technological bridge between the world of automation and the Internet of Things and Services (IoT). Web applications for new business models can be developed without in-depth knowledge of automation technology thanks to the new software component in the Open Core Engineering portfolio. End users and OEMs thus quickly and cost efficiently obtain modern human–machine interfaces for mobile and stationary end devices as well as smart services. Process data can also be saved and analysed in the cloud and can then be used for process optimisation or for service purposes.

Hassle-free communication between human and machine is one requirement for seamless processes in integrated production. The significance of intelligent human–machine interfaces therefore continues to increase. For this, Bosch Rexroth has developed the WebConnector as “universal translator”. This communication interface enables a web app to quickly and securely query control data, axis positions, PLC information, diagnosis or processing statuses from machinery and equipment and to then visualise it on an HMI or evaluate it in a database. For example, this allows the development of predictive maintenance and other service concepts.

The platform-independent WebConnector programmed in Java can be used on all end devices on which a Java Runtime Environment (JRE) is installed. This could be an IndraControl XM control or an HMI device by Rexroth, but it could also be an embedded system like Raspberry Pi or any PC with Linux, Mac, or Windows. For communication with cloud services, smart devices, and other HMI devices, WebConnector uses the established web standard HTML5 and the WebSocket protocol included therein. The WebConnector alternatively communicates with the automation side using the interface technology Open Core Interface integrated in Rexroth controls and drives, or via the Industry 4.0 Standard OPC UA. Web apps are displayed and operated via a common HTML5-capable web browser. Programmers have HTML5 and CSS available for web application as well as an interface for connecting Node.js applications such as Node RED for instance.

For an Ethernet-based communication from machine to machine and automatic notification of persons with process responsibility, WebConnector contains an MQTT broker (Message Queue Telemetry Transport). Thanks to the support of the compact data format JSON (JavaScript Object Notation), WebConnector is also a suitable “Data Gateway” for cloud or database connection. In this manner, the document-oriented Open Source Database mongoDB can be used for smart services or the cloud software Oracle Stream Explorer can be used to analyse real time data. Machinery and equipment statuses can furthermore be monitored and compared across locations.

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