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How to Integrate industrial legacy tech on the Internet of Things



Industrial automation systems and IT infrastructures are complex and expensive assets. When new technologies become available, engineers cannot simply uproot existing systems and start all over again.

RS offers many of devices which allow existing legacy systems to be connected to the Internet of Things. For example, an installed sensor or PLC that has a serial port and uses Modbus protocol that was never originally developed for IoT can be brought into the modern world. With a wide range of data accquisition products from RS, engineers can easily convert signals from the serial port into Ethernet data for use in an IoT environment.
This page provides an overview of several IoT products and add-on devices which support the following technologies:

  • Monitoring and Control
  • Data processing
  • Data accquisition

Monitoring and Control - IoT systems

Does your PLC have an Ethernet port? If so, you are ready for IoT!

groov , the IoT system from OPTO 22, is able to communicate with almost every existing PLC with an Ethernet port like: Siemens LOGO! 7, LOGO! 8, SIMATIC S7-200, SIMATIC S7-1200 or Schneider Electrics TWIDO, MODICON M238, MODICON M258, MODICON M221 or MODICON M241.

groov is specifically designed to easily and quickly upgrade legacy industrial automation systems to allow remote control and monitoring with minimal changes to the existing hardware and IT infrastructures.

See how groov can be integrated in existing infrastructure

groov allows to:

  • virtualise and make the control panel of your machine portable
  • remotely monitor the status of your entire production plant via customisable web interfaces 
  • send customised text messages / emails 
  • virtualise your printed reporting and make it available via smartphone, laptop, smart TV and desktop PC

groov consists of:

  • a hardware device ( groov Box ) and a software platform ( groov server ) to interact with your legacy Ethernet PLCs
  • a web-based tool to create your customised control panels, web interfaces and reporting dashboards

Find out more about groov

The following videos show how to connect groov to an existing legacy automation system. Here we highlight groov in combination with a Siemens PLC, but this procedure is applicable to many other PLCs from brands like Schneider Electric, Allen-Bradley or Omron.

See the list of compatible devices


Data processing - IoT ready PLCs and IoT add-on for PLCs

PLC without Ethernet port?


Even if your PLC does not have an Ethernet port, there are still several possibilities to connect your legacy application to an IoT system with minor changes.

Replacing your legacy PLC with a, fully interchangeable, ‘IoT ready’ version


">Leading brands like Siemens, Schneider are evolving their PLC offer and are providing more performance and connectivity options, but also ensuring the best possible retro-compatibility with their previous generations. In several cases (a parity of brand), the new PLC version doesn't require any major change to the existing programming code or substantial machine re-wiring efforts.
For instance, Schneider is  phasing-out their famous Twido  which can be replaced by the new 'IoT ready' MODICON M221/M241 series.
Legacy PLC + Ethernet to serial adapter

If your automation system requires a major change in adopting a new ‘IoT ready’ PLC, the other option is installing an Ethernet to serial adapter.
Companies like Brainboxes have developed smart industrial hardware that transforms RS-232 or RS-422/485 serial signals in Ethernet data.The Brainboxes ES range of Ethernet to serial adapters provides simple instant-networked serial ports giving the possibility of connecting older PLCs (e.g. Siemens LOGO! 6, Siemens SIMATIC S7-200, Schneider Twido and Omron SYSMAC CJ) to IoT systems like groov.


Industrial Hubs and Ethernet switches

Every industrial IoT application requires transferring a huge amount of data throughout the Ethernet network. As a result, the networks in modern production facilities are becoming increasingly complex and require Ethernet switches optimized and designed for harsh industrial environments. They must equally enable the cost-effective expansion of existing network infrastructures, as well as the development of new industrial networks.
The latest generation of Ethernet switches, such as the Harting Ha-VIS eCon series , have both RJ45 and fiber optic cable ports to enable the efficient setup and expansion of every kind of Ethernet network.


Data acquisition – IoT sensors and add-on for legacy sensors & motors

Sensors and motors are the foundation of every IoT application and are by far the most widely used products in all the existing automation systems.They are either connnected to a PLC or directly interfaced with counters and meters.

Connecting legacy ‘stand-alone’ sensors, AC and DC motors to IoT

For these applications, Brainboxes developed the ED series of remote I/O devices. These allow control over Ethernet of digital/analogue I/Os, relays, thermocouples and every industrial legacy sensor. This data, now available throughout the company network, can be sent to an IoT system like groov or directly managed by the Brainboxes multiplatform software.
The Brainboxes multiplatform software is particularly useful to centralise the monitoring and control of specific tasks like weighing equipment, temperature control, asset tracking, motor control, robotics, test and measurement, environmental monitoring.


Innovative IoT industrial sensors

Flir recently introduced the AX8 IR temperature sensor with Ethernet connection that can be configured, monitored and controlled via a web-based system.
The  Calex Pyro NFC  IR temperature sensor can be easily configured just touching it with an Android smartphone. Thanks to the NFC technology, Calex has drastically reduced the setup time of its device compared with the standard sensors. The low cost of the Pyro NFC makes it ideal for measuring many points, and it is possible for the operator to check the temperature at each location with the smartphone with no need for a separate local display.
New industrial IoT sensors can bring down the overall application costs (no need of timers, counters or PID controllers) while also reducing the setup and maintenance time required.
IoT is entering also in consumables products; The new RFID cable ties from HellermannTyton has opened a complete new field of application for such products. For instance, they can be used for tracking pallets, hand tools or power tools within a firm.
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11 Feb 2016, 16:03