The io-key from autosen moves sensor data to the cloud without configuration effort. Software AG links the sensor data with a Salesforce function and generates manufacturer-independent service tickets.
The challenge: Monitoring fill levels and reducing downtimes
This use case revolves around a cooling lubricant storage facility that is remote from a manufacturer’s production facility. Up to now, lubricant has been taken from the oil drums as required, without any functioning, manual documentation being made about it. This regularly led to the situation where the oil container was empty when another extraction was to take place. This led to machine downtimes until supplies of cooling lubricant could be procured – a costly process. A solution was requested that ensured that the fill level could be viewed at any time from the production site. In addition, the reordering of the lubricant should be automated so that the oil stocks remain reliably at a sufficient level at all times. However, the integration of ticket data is not standardized. This often means expensive development costs and usually requires a transfer of knowledge from partners. With more than 100 different software-as-a-service (SaaS) products in use in the midmarket today, this is confusing and uneconomical.
The solution: Gateway, connectivity and cloud as a complete solution
The solution was achieved through a collaboration between sensor manufacturer autosen and Software AG (SAG). The oil container was fitted with a level sensor on the top lid, which continuously measures the fill level. A flow meter was installed in the inlet to the container to record flow velocity and volume. These sensors are connected to the autosen platform via mobile communications, so that the data from the two sensors flows into Software AG’s “webMethods.io” (separate “App-On” product) integration platform. This platform, which SAG offers as a platform-as-a-service, integrates a Salesforce function. The advantage for the user: The integration allows the Salesforce function to seamlessly process IoT data. A ticket is generated by Salesforce from the event “defined fill level value is underrun” and triggers the reordering of the cooling lubricant. This allowed the process of reordering to be automated without having to hire expensive developers to create each preferred integration. autosen used its innovative io-key for this project, which is simultaneously an IO-Link master, a mobile IoT gateway and a small edge device. The data, which has already been transmitted from the sensor to the io-key in digital format via the standardized IO-Link interface, is then translated into usable data records on the io-key, taking into account the sensor information, and sent to the mobile network. The power supply of the sensors takes place via the io-key, i.e. the gateway itself. Thus, only a single connection with 24 volts is required. With the io-key, any IO-Link sensor can be connected, manufacturer-independently. This has the advantage that the time-consuming processes that would normally have to be carried out to bring such a device onto the Internet by other means are no longer necessary, because the device already recognizes all the relevant information on its own: What kind of sensor is this, what values does it provide, how are these best displayed. Thus, this onboarding process is fully automated. In addition, the io-key is able to execute configurable rules directly on the hardware (edge) and thus check sensor values against these rules in real time.
The result: Automatic refill orders and cost control
Automated reordering of the lubricant now prevents machine downtime. Data is transmitted via mobile network, so that the devices can be reached independently of the existing IT infrastructure. All data movement is secure because the MQTT messages sent, which contain the sensor data points, are transmitted within a dedicated VPN between io-key and the mobile operator (LTE-M or 2G). Their end-to-end encryption also protects them from outside access. The built-in SIM card can be used in most European countries without any problems thanks to extensive roaming agreements. The io-key’s radio module automatically selects the strongest available mobile network, so no configuration is necessary here. The user thus has full cost control. Through the browser-based cloud application, the data can be viewed and managed from any end device – regardless of manufacturer and size. All that is needed is Internet access. This makes it possible to access sensor data from anywhere and thus control processes efficiently. Through autosen’s open io-key solution, SAG has enabled the customer of this use case, the manufacturer with the replenishment problem of cooling lubricant, to enter the IIoT. autosen wants to steadily open up its system to give customers even more options for interacting with other platforms, such as Microsoft Azure or AWS. To this end, autosen has initiated an ecosystem of partners to unite all companies that want to link OT with IT. The io-key is the first product in this team enterprise.