The first choice for IIoT ready UPS
Written by Mark Lloyd, Senior Product Manager- Power Supplies & Surge Protection
Not that long ago integrating a UPS that could communicate with a higher level system was only available with commercial off the shelf AC UPS using SNMP network cards. This was the kind of UPS designed for IT applications but which also managed to creep into some industrial applications basically because there were few viable ”industrialised” AC UPS on the market. There is an increasing trend away from large AC UPS providing back up power for complete installations and towards a decentralised system that uses a number of smaller DC UPS to provide back up to critical loads. Historically, DC UPS have not been very communicative, but another trend is towards creating “Smarter” UPS that can communicate with multiple higher-level platforms such as PLCs. Phoenix Contact is leading the way on this.
I read somewhere recently that there are 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created each day and this pace is only going to increase with the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) and in our world the Industrial Internet of Things or IIoT, one of the so-called Mega Trends. The same article also stated that in the last 2 years alone 90% of the data in the world was generated. The article is at least 2 years old, so presumably, these figures are now much larger.
Anyway, my point is that there is the need to be able to get useful information out of a UPS system in such a way as to make it easy to integrate within a system, and thus be able to monitor, configure and analyse data.
Back in 2011, Phoenix Contact launched arguably the first “Intelligent” DC UPS, with something we call UPS-IQ. Along with free software called UPS Conf, this UPS is able to identify connected batteries from the Phoenix Contact battery range and automatically charge them in an optimum way taking into account the connected load and the ambient temperature. Using the software it is possible to view the state of charge (SOC) and the state of health (SOH) of the batteries at any time. This makes it very simple to set warnings and alarms alerting end-users in advance that a battery needs to be replaced. This is particularly useful where the UPS is installed at a remote location and maintenance visits are infrequent.
This range of QUINT UPS-IQ are still in use today and will be for some time. If there was one disadvantage of this UPS it is that it is not easy to get information out and into a more useful format. Internally this UPS family uses Modbus RTU to communicate via the UPS Conf software platform, and in order to make this info available over an ethernet-based system, a gateway is required with the set up looking much like the picture on the right.
So, the next step was logical, which was to create a DC UPS suitable for IIoT applications. This culminated in the QUINT4 UPS which was released nearly 2 years ago. This has opened up a whole new world of communication options allowing integration into Profinet, Ethercat, Ethernet IP networks, while also including serial USB and a basic version where no comms are required, purely digital signals and LEDs. You can get an overview from the following short video.
So, the video above covers nearly all the communication options, but not quite all.
Most recently additional flexibility has been added by adding Modbus TCP to the Ethernet IP version, thus negating the need for a gateway required in the previous generation QUINT UPS. For those not familiar with Modbus TCP/IP, in the industrial environment, it is widely used and is a variant of the MODBUS family of simple, vendor-neutral communication protocols intended for supervision and control of automation equipment. Specifically, it covers the use of MODBUS messaging in an 'Intranet' or 'Internet' environment using the TCP/IP protocols.
Modbus is a simple master-slave protocol for mainly point-to-point applications. It is a protocol with a fairly low level of complexity and is therefore simple to implement. Once the UPS has had an IP address assigned and fixed to it, your pretty much good to go. As you can see from the following diagram this allows the UPS to be connected to multiple devices via a switch, can allow the controlled shutdown of multiple industrial PCs and also allows connection to the Cloud.
Putting aside Modbus, I mentioned earlier that there is also a solution to allow a UPS system to be integrated via some popular industrial protocols including Profinet & Ethernet IP. To assist with this integration, the relevant function modules and device descriptions are all downloadable from our website, plus there are a number of tutorial videos on the Phoenix Contact YouTube channel.
As an example, here is a short video tutorial explaining how to assign an IP address to the DC-UPS with built-in Modbus TCP.
There are other videos available to help, and more will be added step by step as more options are added to the range.