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Feature-packed kit and structured course provide an on-ramp for developing IIoT applications with machine interfacing, edge processing, powerful device management features and more.
Industry 4.0 promises to bring a step-change in efficiency and quality to manufacturing and wider industrial operations but comes with its own challenges. More often than not it will be necessary to retrofit existing machinery and to integrate with long-established enterprise systems, with significant investments having been made in both — in terms of capital expenditure, skills and process — and the associated investment needing to be recouped over many years.
As such, flexibility and ease of use are vital when it comes to integration technologies; it should be possible to connect up a wide array of sensors and with implementation possible without needing to be an experienced embedded systems developer. This is where the Zerynth platform has particular appeal, in providing a robust platform that is based on the incredibly popular Python programming language, with excellent device support, a powerful SDK and integrated cloud APIs.
The Industrial IoT Kitsupported by accompanying course materials and video, build on the Zerynth platform to provide everything that is required to get up and running as quickly as possible, integrating Industry 4.0 capabilities into both new and existing machinery.
The 4ZeroBox is at the heart of the IIoT Kit and boasts a 32-bit WiFi-enabled microcontroller together with a wide selection of I/O and modular expansion, in a DIN rail mountable enclosure.
Key features include:
- ESP32 microcontroller (240MHz, 16Mb Flash, 512KB SRAM)
- DIN-rail mountable case with industrial-grade sensor channels
- Support for Wi-fi and Ethernet.
- SD Card for local data storage
- Customizable solution which supports LoRa, CAN, RS485, RS232
- ATECC608A cryptography element for ultra-secure connections.
In the above pin map we can see that out-of-the-box I/O includes Opto-isolated inputs, relay outputs, ADCs, CAN bus, digital I/O, RS-485, RS-232, and 4-20mA/0-10V analogue inputs. There is also an Ethernet port that may be used with protocols that are based on this, plus two MikroBUS slots that may be used for further expansion. For example, use with directly connected off-the-shelf sensor modules or perhaps additional ADCs, or alternatively with custom modules.
The kit comes supplied with a selection of highly useful sensors to get you up and running as quickly as possible. Pictured above we can see a magnetic reed switch, which might be used for remote indication of machine guarding state, for example. There is also a USB/RS-485 dongle, which may be used with a laptop to simulate a PLC or other industrial device, as a rapid development aid. On the right is a temperature probe, which might be used to measure process temperature, or that of a critical machinery component, such as a motor.
Popular IIoT use cases include energy measurement as a means of not only helping to reduce energy-related costs but through further analysis as one potential indicator of machine condition, thereby enabling preventative maintenance. A current transformer (CT) is provided for such purposes and facilitates rapid and minimally invasive installation.
A mains power supply is also included, along with a set of terminals. All that remains is for you to supply the DIN rail, or to attach the PSU and 4ZeroBox to that already fitted in machinery.
After purchasing the kit, access to the course materials is provided upon registration via DesignSpark. The course is comprised of sixteen videos supported by a reference guide.
Introduction and fundamentals
The first three lessons provide an introduction to IIoT and Industry 4.0, then introduce the 4ZeroBox, before going on to cover getting set up with the Zerynth software and using the VS Code editor to create projects, build these and upload them to the 4ZeroBox.
Interfacing with industrial machines
The next section of the course has three lessons dedicated to digital and analogue interfacing and RS-485. The latter includes using ModRSim2 to simulate a Modbus device.
The fourth lesson in this section then proceeds to introduce edge processing, a key tenet of Industry 4.0, which offers many benefits, including low latency, more efficient use of communications and remote cloud platforms, and greater resilience by reducing reliance on these.
Advanced Zerynth programming
There are a total of three lessons dedicated to more advanced Zerynth programming topics, covering storing data on SD, timers, threads and watchdogs, and TSlog. The Zerynth time-series log (TSLog) provides an alternative to using simple SD storage and is comprised of fixed length records in containers called buckets. In short, it provides a much more elegant and robust mechanism for storing and retrieving chronologically ordered data, such as that from a sensor.
Cloud services integration
The cloud services section of the course is made up of five lessons, first providing an introduction to the Zerynth Device Manager (ZDM), before going on to cover concepts such as its data stream, jobs and control actions, conditions, and finally over-the-air (OTA) update.
ZDM is a particularly powerful component of the Zerynth technology stack, that allows any device to be connected to any cloud platform. While also enabling secure onboarding and provisioning, FOTA device updates, data management, alarm management and more.
Zerynth Storage and Dashboard
The final section in the course is comprised of a single lesson looking at integration with Zerynth storage and dashboard, which provides a cloud database plus an integrated visualisation platform. After any local processing has been carried out, data may be persisted to the Zerynth cloud and presented in all manner of different ways, such as graphs, dials, tables and so forth.
The Zerynth platform provides a compelling combination of ease of use and powerful features, with the Industrial IoT Kit and course building on this to provide everything that is needed to start integrating IIoT capabilities in no time at all. This could be anything from remote safety and failure monitoring, preventative maintenance and process optimisation, through to full-on digital twinning.