Softing Industrial Automation: The Mindsphere Middleware

Softing Industrial is presented the new ‚Mindsphere Connector‘ component of the ‚DataFeed OPC Suite‘ at SPS IPC Drives 2018. Product manager Andreas Röck explains what this is all about.

Andreas Röck Bildquelle: © Softing Industrial Automation

Andreas Röck: "Our 'DataFeed OPC Suite' is a flexible all-in-one solution for data integration".

Mr. Röck, when and why is the MindSphere Connector necessary? Why not play the data directly in MindSphere?

Andreas Röck:
The use covers two applications: On the one hand, it allows the connection of further data sources - for example controllers - that are not directly supported by Mindsphere. Another use case is the support of users who do not want to link Mindsphere directly with production, for example because they have security concerns. Here the use of middleware allows a detailed selection of the data to be transferred to the cloud.

To what extent is the numbers of supported controllers increased? 

Andreas Röck: Mindsphere‘s architecture is primarily aimed at connecting controllers via the OPC UA standard. However, the majority of controllers used today do not yet support this standard. This applies in particular to controllers that are installed in existing systems. With the Connector, this controller can also be easily and safely integrated into Mindsphere applications.

How exactly is the connector used in practice?

Andreas Röck: Various cloud applications run in Mindsphere that evaluate collected data for predictive maintenance or plant ­efficiency, for example. The first step is to transfer this data to the Mindsphere ­environment. Our Connector is a convenient option for this. The user can use trigger conditions to determine very flexibly which individual data points of the different data sources or controls are available for evaluation in Mindsphere at which times. 

Are connectors for further platforms planned?

Andreas Röck: The most important platforms can be integrated via standard protocols such as MQTT. An MQTT connector is already available in our ­dataFEED OPC Suite for this purpose. This enables Adamos, for example, to access production data. If this path is not available, we can also integrate the corresponding platform API, as we did with the Mindsphere Connector.

What is the advantage of the Softing solution?

Andreas Röck: With our suite, customers have access to controllers from leading manufacturers, including the Simatic S5, as a data source. And for data re-use, this solution not only supports Siemens Mindsphere, but also a number of other important cloud platforms such as Microsoft Azure, Bosch PPM, Amazon AWS and many more.