In Industry 4.0, efficient communication between systems using protocols such as OPC UA is crucial. The OPC Router from inray is a platform for automated data transfer. However, deploying it on different systems is a challenge. Partnering with Portainer equips inray with an automated deployment solution, enhancing our ability to seamlessly integrate IIoT in a cost-efficient and effective manner.
The challenge: Efforts due to manual management of the OPC Router and inconsistencies across different edge devices
An important standard for communication between systems in Industry 4.0 and the Industrial IoT is OPC UA (Open Platform Communications Unified Architecture). In automation technology, the protocol ensures the exchange of data between the individual systems. One tool for this is the OPC Router from inray. It works as a central communication platform for automated OPC connections.
Thanks to a clear and easy-to-use user interface, technicians can configure the communication between the different devices particularly simply by “drag and drop”. This makes it easy to configure connections in the horizontal direction between individual devices and in the vertical direction to higher-level systems such as SAP ERP or MES additional via MQTT in the Cloud.
One challenge for many industrial companies, however, is deployment, i.e., making the application available on different systems. In the past, this has meant manual installation on each individual system. Through cooperation with the container platform Portainer, inray now offers a simple solution for the automated deployment of the OPC Router.
The solution: Intuitive IIoT integration through the symbiosis of Portainer and inray
An industry-suited deployment platform is Portainer. It enables enterprises to quickly and easily deploy Docker containers to edge devices, for example.
Deployment in Industry 4.0
Software deployment, i.e., the deployment of applications, is a largely automated standard task in information technology. It is common to deploy containers, which are software packages that contain all of the necessary elements to run in a lightweight manner across environments. Orchestration applications help automate deployment, scaling, and management of containers.
In IT, technologies and products such as Kubernetes, Docker Swarm, Amazon ECS, or Google GKE are common for this purpose. However, they are oriented to the needs of data centers and public cloud consumption. One industry-ready solution is the Portainer container management platform delivering a simplified graphical user interface with the same power of API and command line based solutions. Optimized: Technicians can conveniently use it to install and configure containers, even retroactively. This makes the system particularly suitable for relieving the workload of IT/OT teams in industry.
The OPC Router as a container
With the Portainer orchestration solution, inray can take full advantage of containerization and orchestration while reducing management overhead. inray delivers the OPC Router as a container for this purpose, which is deployed, configured and controlled by Portainer. This allows the OPC Router to be deployed very quickly to edge devices, even without technicians being on site.
With the integration of Portainer, the OPC Router has been further optimized. Thanks to one-touch onboarding, industrial devices can be provisioned directly without manual intervention. In addition, there is automated deployment of configurations to the various devices, further reducing manual work. This reduces both the complexity and the cost of IIoT projects.
The InfluxDB case study
An example of how Portainer and OPC Router can work together is a use case where the OPC Router transfers data to InfluxDB via OPC UA. Thanks to Portainer’s app templates and distribution features, this use case can be effortlessly and scalably replicated across various edge devices.
The cooperation between the two companies allows users to quickly set up the system and smoothly transfer data from machines to InfluxDB via OPC Routers, whether in the cloud or on-premises. Without Portainer, inray would have been faced with scaling and deploying the Router on numerous edge devices – a challenge that was elegantly solved thanks to this successful partnership.
The result: Applying complex technology in a simple way
The integration of the inray OPC Router and Portainer simplifies the way companies implement IIoT projects. The distribution of configurations is automated so that the deployment has little manual effort. The combination of both systems makes it possible to use complex technologies simply and effectively. Companies benefit from seamless integration that ensures a continuous flow of data between machines and IT systems. Companies can thus implement their IIoT projects more efficiently and cost-effectively.
inray and Portainer.io proudly present a solution that significantly reduces the complexity and costs of IIoT and digitalization projects, offering users an intuitive and scalable platform.
Mike Elsen (CEO, inray Industriesoftware GmbH) and Tobias Mühlnikel (CPO & CTO Edge Business Unit, Portainer.io) are available as contacts and represent the strong partnership between these two technology companies (see the sidebar on the right).