INSYS icom and PRTG: a use case in getting data from the factory floor

 Originally published on September 18, 2020 by Shaun Behrens
Last updated on September 23, 2020 • 8 minute read

In an industrial IT environment, IT and Operational Technology (OT) have for a long time been two separate worlds. But recent digitization has started changing that, which means that combining these two aspects in your monitoring concept has become vital.

A key to bringing these two worlds together is smart gateways. These devices can be connected to various elements on the factory floor, and they are responsible for aggregating data and sending them to various end points. This means that they are the gateways – as the name suggests – to accessing important data about the production process.

But how exactly can smart gateways be used to get OT data into an IT monitoring concept? Let’s examine one possible solution by looking at an example with INSYS icom gateways and the new MQTT Subscribe sensor of PRTG Network Monitor.

Note: This is also something we will cover in an upcoming Webinar: Merging OT and IT with INSYS icom and PRTG

The gateway

The gateway is essentially a connection between the factory floor and various other systems. Here is a typical architecture that the INSYS icom might be implemented in:

insys-icom-gateway

Here you can see that on the one side, the gateway is connected to various aspects of the factory floor, such as actuators, sensors, and other control mechanisms. On the other side, the gateway connects to operators (like ERP or SCADA systems), services and manufacturers.

For our example, we will use MQTT to get the data into PRTG, so it’s the “Manufacturer” part of the architecture that we’re most interested in. 

The MQTT Subscribe sensor in PRTG Network Monitor

We recently added MQTT sensors to the monitoring capabilities of PRTG. One of those sensors is the MQTT Subscribe sensor. It can be used to subscribe to a specific topic, and then display data it receives in a dashboard. For more information, refer to the sensor’s entry in our manual, and watch the tutorial video.

Steps to monitoring data from the factory floor

Now let's get more specific in our example. On the factory floor, let's say we are using a Logo! 8 Programmable Logic Controller (PLC), which provides data that we want to monitor. The PLC is connected to an INSYS icom gateway. We also have connected the icom gateway device to an MQTT broker (in our example, the broker is Thingsboard). 

1) Configure the data you want to deliver

The INSYS icom device lets you define specific data points that come from connected devices — in our example, the Logo! 8 PLC. I won't go into detail here about exactly how you can do this (and it will differ from gateway to gateway). But in our example, we set up various different data points for our Logo8:

Data-from-INSYS-icom-data-suite

These data points might represent temperature values, boolean values, and so on; it all depends on what data the PLC is delivering through the various inputs and values. 

2) Set up the MQTT messages to the broker

The next step is getting the data to the MQTT broker. In the case of the INSYS icom gateway, the configuration looks like this: 

INSYS-MQTT-configuration

Here we have configured the broker (Thingsboard), and we have defined the messages to be sent with the mqttMsg1 profile. To give you an idea of how the message may be configured, here's a look at the mqttMsg1 configuration:

INSYS-MQTT-message

The message is delivered in JSON format.

The INSYS icom gateway also lets you specify how often messages are sent, or to only send messages after a certain event has occurred. 

4) Set up the MQTT Subscribe sensor in PRTG

The final step is to set up the MQTT Subscribe sensor in PRTG Network Monitor. You can configure the sensor to subscribe to the specific topic so that it will receive the messages from the broker (once it has received them from the INSYS icom gateway). Then you configure the sensor to query the relevant information in the message by using the JSON path. Now you will have the data, originally sent by the PLC, in PRTG for monitoring. 

This post is only intended to provide an overview of the process; we'll be providing a more concrete how-to guide in the future, so make sure you subscribe to our blog. For more information about how the MQTT Subscribe sensor works, watch this tutorial video:

 

 

 

 

If you have any questions about our new MQTT sensors, integration with INSYS icom devices, or industrial IT, ask us in the comments below.