In today’s industrial landscape, distributed connectivity is an essential tool for organizations that want to continue to scale their networks while maintaining existing legacy equipment. Establishing effective remote infrastructure management strategies for industrial networks has become imperative for organizations with distributed networks, especially with a variety of device types throughout the deployment.
Industry leaders such as Siemens, Schneider Electric and Bosch have already invested heavily in implementing connected systems and processes in their supply chains and partner networks. Innovative Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) solutions they promise to maximize productivity, streamline operations and ensure environmental safety.
To take advantage of these benefits, companies must develop robust yet manageable networks that provide real-time access to operational data. By building reliable networks at remote sites, industrial facilities like manufacturing plants and distribution centers can use connected IoT devices to monitor their equipment, optimize performance and reduce costs.
Establishing and managing network access for remote and mobile sites, and the applications deployed in these locations, can be expensive, time-consuming, and difficult to coordinate. Let’s discuss how industrial organizations can overcome the associated challenges and implement scalable remote infrastructure management.
Challenges of industrial application environments
To take advantage of benefits of IoT connectivity, industrial companies need to be able to more easily deploy and manage wireless sensors and remote monitoring solutions and control equipment at sites where operational data is generated. But deploying computing devices outside of the data center presents many challenges, particularly the variable environmental conditions found on industrial sites.
For example, manufacturing facilities come with the inevitable dust and dirt, as well as poor climate control. And industrial sites often contain hazardous chemicals, equipment, or energy sources, making the devices placed there difficult to reach and maintain. As a result, industrial IoT connectivity products must be designed for use in these types of environments.
Additionally, organizations can use virtualization to centralize their computing resources. Doing so, reducing the amount of equipment that needs to be deployed at each site, not only alleviates the difficulty of long-term maintenance, but also makes industrial networks more resilient and scalable.
Network scaling at remote sites
When it comes to IoT implementation and network architecture, remote locations present a number of challenges. These may include:
Unpredictable environmental conditions mean equipment must be suitable for use in extended temperature and hazardous environments.
It takes more time, expense, and difficulty to physically get to these sites for regular maintenance and troubleshooting.
Limited connectivity options: For very remote locations, bringing in a multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) copper or fiber line or a fixed-line Internet connection can be costly or impossible. Even where fiber or copper lines can be installed, the distance to the nearest server and the resulting latency often means that connectivity speeds and uptime are significantly limited.
Finally, transparent application connectivity: Applications running on virtualized computers that need to connect to this remote computer often require the use of COM ports to communicate with critical devices that are serially connected. For industrial IoT use cases to be successful at scale, organizations need networking solutions that support secure serial connectivity, but do not require them to upgrade or replace existing hardware or software.
Being able to connect remote devices using existing applications allows organizations to adopt IoT-driven use cases faster. And when organizations can scale networks across industrial and remote sites, they can leverage the data collected to optimize operations, ensure safe working conditions, and improve equipment maintenance and quality control.
Benefits of scalable remote infrastructure management for industrial use cases
Deploying and connecting IoT equipment at remote industrial sites requires careful planning and preparation that can seem expensive, time-consuming, and difficult to justify from the start. However, the information that results from each industrial site – the status and health of remote assets, their operating results, and their environmental conditions – can provide ongoing value that is well worth the effort.
Having connected devices on site allows industrial organizations to implement critical capabilities such as environmental monitoring or smart Supply chain management. But when deploying and managing IoT devices alongside legacy infrastructure, industry investments must strike a sustainable balance that supports both continued differentiation and scalable growth.
Without in-house expertise in IoT device management, connected device design, and network architecture, companies can find it difficult to efficiently and cost-effectively deploy secure networks designed for use in industrial sites.
In a recent industrial IoT scaling report, McKinsey & Company outlined how relying on expert partners can enable organizations to effectively deploy an IoT platform at scale and better navigate inherent cybersecurity challenges. Additionally, Forrest Research notes that working with ecosystem partners allows you to “get out of the business of building platforms and take advantage of their strengths…[and] focus attention, effort, and marketing on the capabilities that really can, and do, differentiate themselves.”
With over 35 years of experience designing and implementing mission-critical connectivity, Digi® has the expertise and scalable remote infrastructure management solutions to help organizations successfully meet the challenges of industrial networks.
Digi’s Approach to Remote Infrastructure Management
Our infrastructure management products focus on providing critical asset connectivity for the widest range of USB and serial managed equipment, whether accessed via wired, wireless and cellular networks or directly connected. Now we have introduced the Digi Connect® EZ product family, allowing your organization to place computers in a more secure location away from heavy machinery or vulnerable locations on site.
This remote infrastructure management approach allows you to connect a wide range of equipment to Digi Connect EZ, put those devices on a local network, and move the computers to an office or data center. Connect EZ works with Digi Navigator, which allows you to configure, monitor and access any version of the device server, be it Connect EZ Mini, Connect EZ 2, Connect EZ 4 or Connect EZ 4i, in less than 10 minutes. throughout his life.
Digi Connect EZ Compatibility Digital RealPort® serial-over-network controller, which provides a secure, robust, flexible, and scalable way to access remote serial equipment over IP networks, either LAN or WAN, without having to upgrade or replace your current equipment or software. RealPort offers seamless connectivity for many existing applications, but Connect EZ also supports a variety of other communication protocols you may need to use. For example, Connect EZ also supports Virtual Private Network (VPN) socket connectivity and Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) or Transport Layer Security (TLS), as well as Modbus TCP RTU gateway support.
Connect EZ is also suitable for remote installations as it offers connectivity to our Digi CORE® LTE Pluggable Modem. Together, they provide an integrated solution for connectivity to critical remote equipment that is easy to configure and maintain, regardless of the protocol or software you need to communicate with the connected device.
Meet the challenges of industrial networking with Digi Connect EZ
Digi Connect EZ is our next-generation serial device server family that provides connectivity for critical assets in enterprise, commercial, and industrial automation applications with the added benefits of cellular, Wi-Fi, and dual Gigabit Ethernet connectivity. Quick to set up and easy to deploy, Digi Connect EZ offers enhanced security, access control, and management capabilities, providing seamless integration into existing applications while increasing flexibility to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.
With Connect EZ, we bring our highly secure and capable DAL architecture and Digi Remote Manager® platform to our automation series device and terminal servers that add full support for VPN, firewall and routing along with edge intelligence and central management capabilities and a broader range of connectivity through our LTE core add-on modules and options of Wi-Fi.
The Connect EZ family of products enables customers to deploy robust and flexible device connectivity solutions that can be managed at scale throughout the deployment lifecycle:
- The Connect EZ Mini it is the smallest member of the family with a single Multiple Electrical Interface (MEI) serial port. It can be used to connect an isolated device or multiple devices can be used to connect multiple devices spread across a facility, providing the flexibility to locate the point of connectivity close to equipment and reducing the need for long serial cable runs.
- Digi Connect EZ 2 and Connect EZ 4 They offer two-port and four-port MEI serial connectivity along with dual gigabit ethernet and the option to use Digi’s main plug-in LTE modems. The Connect EZ 4 also offers Wi-Fi connectivity supporting Wi-Fi client or hotspot.
- Connect EZ 2 and Connect EZ 4 they offer the flexibility to connect to existing networks in star or bus topologies and offer cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity where needed.
In addition, Digi offers Connect EZ 4ithat has been specifically designed for use in hazardous industrial sites and is certified to withstand temperatures in Class 1, Division 2 Environments.
Because of the flexibility offered by the Connect EZ family, customers can deploy robust, secure, and scalable connectivity solutions to connect many devices across a facility or remote locations, all with a common, easy-to-configure platform. With support for 9 to 30 volt DC power, extended temperature, LTE pluggable core modules, and a wide range of serial connectivity capabilities, Connect EZ is the most flexible and efficient way to solve many of today’s challenging use cases. today for industrial connectivity. .