The Edge Gateway for Machine Builders

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4 minutes Reading time
4 minutes Reading time

GEA is one of the world’s largest suppliers of systems for the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries. Its portfolio includes machinery and equipment as well as sophisticated process technology, components and comprehensive services. GEA’s solutions are helping to make production processes increasingly sustainable and efficient in a wide range of industries worldwide.

Founded in 1881, GEA today consists of five divisions with more than 18,000 employees located in 62 countries. GEA customers benefit from global reach combined with extensive local presence. With its broad processing knowledge and range of solutions, GEA supports its customers in a targeted and responsible manner.

The challenge: networking machines with cloud-based IoT

In order to continue to meet customer requirements and to retain and expand the technological advantage of its products, it is necessary to further increase both the sustainability and the efficiency of the production processes. The most important prerequisite for this is the networking of machines and plants via the cloud-based IoT.

Obviously, this must be implemented for both newly produced plants and those already in operation. Every newly produced machine was to be equipped with appropriate sensor technology, and the worldwide retrofit of several hundred machines was to be as simple as possible, without downtime and without service technicians traveling around the world.

So what they were looking for was an IoT gateway that was flexible, cost-effective to deploy, easy to get up and running, and deeply integrated with existing cloud and IoT platforms. In codestryke, GEA found a partner capable of meeting these requirements.

The solution: retrofittable cloud connectivity

Codestryke is a software company specializing in IoT for mechanical engineering. It supports industrial manufacturers as a reliable partner with comprehensive IoT solutions and services from conception to development and operation of Industrial IoT solutions. The software is used by over 50 customers on more than 4.5 million devices.

The company’s own middleware – VergeLink – often forms the basis for IoT-based business models in which IoT data must be acquired and processed to add value.

With the gateway software VergeLink, data from PLCs and field devices can be collected, pre-processed and made available to the IoT solution in a secure, scalable and simple way. Even with high-frequency, granular data, VergeLink allows pre-calculations and analyses to be performed on the edge, i.e. at the machine, and the calculated KPIs and alarms can then be passed on to the target system. This does not require any kind of IT knowledge, even for large amounts of data, and can be done simply and intuitively via drag & drop.

VergeLink communicates across all major industry-relevant platforms and protocols, enabling not only the integration of IoT data into cloud platforms, but through OPC UA Server also into MES, ERP, SCADA, or into customer-specific analysis tools.

Codestryke offers the VergeLink solution both as a software-only solution and in conjunction with hardware as a complete package.

When retrofitting VergeLink, the software is installed on an existing IPC or gateway via Docker. The integrated device wizard enables the connection of several machines in three simple steps: First, the network is scanned for field devices; manufacturer and model are automatically detected by the system. In the second step, the connection of the devices is done in record time because a large number of data models are already stored in the Data Model Library. In the third and final step, the data can then be natively integrated into all relevant cloud platforms using prefabricated templates.

The result: maximum added value

GEA’s goals were thus achieved: an existing solution can be used for new machines, and a new service model (GEA PerformancePlus) can be offered at the same time. Through the over-the-air system, Vergelink enables installation, extensions and changes to the data configurations and edge functions of existing devices remotely. By using existing hardware and not having to travel around the world, an amount in the upper six-figure range was saved. In this way, GEA gets the maximum added value out of the IoT data and the customer quickly achieves the desired ROI!

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