Industrial Connectivity and DataOps

Industrial Connectivity refers to interconnected sensors, instruments, and other devices networked together with computers’ industrial applications, including manufacturing and energy management. This connectivity allows for data collection, exchange, and analysis, potentially facilitating improvements in productivity and efficiency as well as other economic benefits.

DataOps (Data Operations) is the orchestration of people, processes, and technology to deliver trusted, business-ready data to data owners, operations, and applications throughout the data lifecycle. With properly governed data, businesses can comply with complex regulations, data privacy and ensure artificial intelligence (AI) model accuracy by monitoring data quality.

With SMARTUNIFIER, organizations can deploy market-leading Industrial Connectivity and DataOps capabilities. The solution includes multi-cloud industrial connectivity, data modeling, and context data management that improves data engineering, data quality, data connectivity, and data security in order to provide a self-service data pipeline.

For providing Connectivity and DataOps to industrial enterprises, SMARTUNIFIER

  • can be operated at the edge or within any cloud environment,
  • includes comprehensive features for efficient data engineering and achieving high data quality,
  • scales from single PC installation to large computing platforms,
  • securely connects any number of devices and IT systems via communication standards or native protocols,
  • processes discrete and streaming data through standardized information models and data mappings,
  • allows simulating data pipelines before actually being deployed to physical devices and,
  • delivers contextualized and correlated information to all required IT-systems.
Industrial Connectivity and DataOps with SMARTUNIFIER

Important Features for Industrial Connectivity and DataOps

Advanced-Data Engineering with Information Models and Data Mappings

Within SMARTUNIFIER an Information Model describes the communication-related data that is available for a device or IT system. One device or one IT system is represented by one Information Model. An Information Model consists of so-called Node Types. Information Models are built up in a hierarchical tree structure, i.e., elements within the Information Model can contain further elements. This is required to model the data structure of devices as naturally as possible.

In other words, Information Models represent equipment, processes, and products with intelligent information as required for specific or multiple industrial use cases. SMARTUNIFIER allows contextualizing any number of industrial data points by merging them with information from other systems, adding metadata, standardizing data attributes, and normalizing data.

Mappings represent the SMARTUNIFIER component that defines when and how to ex- change/transform data between two or multiple Information Models. Thus, Mappings are acting as a translator between the different Information Models. One Mapping consists of one or multiple Rules. A Rule contains a Trigger, which defines when the exchange/transformation takes place, and a list of actions that are defining how the exchange/transformation is done.

SMARTUNIFIER has a built-in mapping and transformation engine based on a high-speed native compiler to standardize and normalize data for any kind of data preprocessing. Information Models and Mappings are created graphically (Drag&Drop, Low Code) to transfer information from any source device to any destination device or IT System. By using an advanced code-based editor, the transformation engine allows to perform calculations, execute logic and decompose complex data at the edge to improve data usability and reduce transmission volume. Any kind of data preprocessing can be applied, e.g. adding values, calculation of averages, format conversions, simple and complex algorithms, etc. The inclusion of enterprise-specific information is possible via a configurable Enterprise Context that can be defined and structured like any other Information Model.

Information Model and Data Mapping within SMARTUNIFIER

When running an IT network with a higher number of devices and IT systems, all previously created interface configurations (Information Models and Mappings) can be reused easily and shared across the whole installation. This way similar devices or IT systems can be interconnected using the same connections and translation logic. Changes and updates of interface configurations can be deployed from a central server, eliminating the need to touch and update each device or IT system individually.

Multiple High-Speed Data Channels

SMARTUNIFIER can combine multiple high-speed data channels for a holistic view of an entire process or various processes. User-definable data mapping simplifies interface creation, and numerous pre-packaged, reusable protocol converters (adapters) are available to collect equipment status and condition data. High-volume and high-speed, real-time protocol conversion enables high-speed production monitoring.

The diagram below illustrates the SMARTUNIFIER architecture.

Architecture Diagram

Decentralized Deployment Architecture

SMARTUNIFIER is based on a fully decentralized system architecture (Swarm) using Container Technologies for virtually unlimited scalability.

Swarm Deployment

SMARTUNIFIER works with small decentralized Communication instances as illustrated in the picture above.

All the decentralized Instances are centrally managed by the SMARTUNIFIER manager, including real-time monitoring and logging of deployed Communication Instances.

Deployments of SMARTUNIFIER’s Communication Instances can be on-premise (e.g. Industrial PCs, Edge Devices), in data centers, in the cloud, and hybrid deployments are also supported.

Improved Data Quality with Component Version Control

SMARTUNIFIER provides comprehensive version management that complies with all requirements of Industrial Connectivity. The included Component Version Control enables users to version SMARTUNIFIER configuration components such as Information Models, Communication Channels, Mappings, and Communication Instances. Old versions are automatically archived. The detailed audit trails guarantee full history of changes to Information Models and Mappings and allow for quickly restoring old versions in case of failures. By default, SMARTUNIFIER is using the Component Version Control internally – therefore no configuration is needed. Another option is to point to an external version control system like Gitea that provides powerful features for enterprise-scale version management.

Data Security with Encryption and Authentication

Configuration, deployment, and management of SMARTUNIFIER Instances are done using SMARTUNIFIER Manager. All configuration data is fully encrypted, unlike some simpler solutions, that store credentials as plain text within configuration files.  Individual user authentication is supported, and Windows AD / LDAP integration is available. SMARTUNIFIER Manager makes it easy to deploy updates to the communication instances in the production environment so that integrity and security can continually be maintained. 

The diagram below illustrates security measures that are implemented with a SMARTUNIFIER deployment.

Security with SMARTUNIFIER

Conclusion and Benefits

Industrial data exists in different components and systems, in various formats, with separate access protocols. To harness this data’s power and benefit from the synergies of system-wide interoperability, we must effectively digitize industrial data and deliver the content quickly, reliably, and securely.

As described above, supporting important DataOps features is a central theme for SMARTUNIFIER. With adherence to standards and utilization of best-of-breed technology and tools during the development lifecycle, during configuration and deployment, and during operation, steps are continuously taken to ensure efficient data engineering and high data quality combined with powerful data connectivity and data security in order to provide a self-service data pipeline.

With SMARTUNIFIER a new approach to data integration and security is taken, which increases data quality and reduces time spent preparing data for use throughout the enterprise.

SMARTUNIFIER represents a powerful and fully decentralized connectivity and DataOps platform to interconnect industrial devices and IT systems including equipment, peripheral devices, sensors/actors, MES, ERP as well as cloud-based IT systems and includes comprehensive features for efficient data engineering and achieving high data quality.

Learn more about Industrial Connectivity and DataOps With SMARTUNIFIER

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