Condition monitoring for production plants with Siemens controllers

 Originally published on July 09, 2021 by Guest Author
Last updated on July 09, 2021 • 6 minute read

Operational technology (OT) implements solutions for automation tasks. Controllers typically produce large amounts of process and machine data that can be used for monitoring and optimization at the IT level. In many cases, users can benefit from condition monitoring in their plants.

However, there are particular challenges associated with implementing such applications in existing plants. Installed devices generally do not have standardized and secure interfaces for communicating with software applications. This even applies to one of the most popular devices found in existing plants: the SIMATIC S7 controller from Siemens.

PRTG is ideally suited for condition monitoring applications and it offers standardized data connection interfaces such as OPC UA and MQTT. Softing Industrial bridges the gap to the proprietary interfaces of controllers such as the SIMATIC S7 from Siemens. Softing Industrial is the market leader for industrial data integration, and together with Paessler, it can now provide a condition monitoring solution for Siemens controllers (for more detailed information on this, download the configuration guide, "How to Use PRTG for Condition Monitoring with SIMATIC S7 Controllers"). 

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To integrate data from Siemens controllers, Softing has developed various gateway products that meet the requirements of many different operational models. Some of these products are typically used centrally in an automation environment and can be easily deployed as autonomous applications or devices by means of OT.

The uaGate SI hardware gateway is one example of a product for this type of operational model. It supports access to the data in SIMATIC S7 300/400/1200/1500 controllers and enables the integration of this data using the OPC UA and MQTT standards and their respective security mechanisms.

Physically separated Ethernet interfaces and separate configuration rights for OT and IT networks prevent unauthorized access to the data. If no separate hardware is going to be used, SIMATIC S7 controllers can instead be accessed with the dataFEED OPC Suite. This product supports the OPC UA, MQTT and REST standards for secure data transmission, and it also enables targeted data pre-processing and features a store-and-forward mechanism that temporarily stores data in the event of interrupted communication.

Banner_Industrial-01Other gateway products are typically used in more complex IIoT solutions at the interface between OT and IT and can be managed using IT. This is often the case when a central cloud or IoT platform needs to be connected to multiple manufacturing sites. The overall solution involves short IT innovation cycles which result in frequent changes to the configuration of the OT/IT interface. edgeConnector Siemens is a docker container application that is especially suited to deployment in this type of environment. The product makes it possible to integrate SIMATIC S7 300/400/1200/1500 controllers using the OPC UA and MQTT standards for transmitting their data to IIoT applications. edgeConnector Siemens is distinguished by a high degree of security with individually configurable and role-based access rights for each OPC UA client application.

All Softing products feature a graphical user interface for simple local management. edgeConnector Siemens also offers an API for configuration through third-party applications.

On the basis of these Softing products, PRTG can be used to implement a condition monitoring solution. To do this, data from the Siemens controllers is integrated via OPC UA or MQTT sensors and managed using dashboards that display all the information relevant to monitoring the status of the plant or individual components. If a problem is detected, an alert can be sent promptly with the detailed information needed to resolve it.

A configuration manual is available, which provides an in-depth look at Softing’s various products, how to use them in conjunction with SIMATIC S7 controllers, and how to integrate PRTG for condition monitoring.