I4.0 SPACEWORK is an ecosystem of companies (Barbara IoT being one of them) working together to explore Industry 4.0 solutions. Jaramaeng is an engineering company also part of the I4.0 SPACEWORK who has been working for a long time in the energy and manufacturing sector, supplying and value-added services for the design, setup and maintenance of energy substations, solar power plants, and automation lines.
As described by Iván Fernández Merino, I4.0 SPACEWORK CEO, photovoltaic plants are bankable businesses, meaning data monitoring needs to be fully reliable and secure so that plant owners get paid by the exact amount of energy they are generating. If monitoring data is not accurate or can’t be properly audited this would prevent many owners to get the credits they need to invest in the creation and maintenance of these plants.
Traditionally, this security and integrity have been provided by means of closed systems. Each of the sensors that measure the current generated by each panel present in the plan was cable connected to a SCADA system in the plant, only accessible physically from the plant data center for monitoring and report generation. This “air-gap” system has two main problems:
- The cost and time that takes to put thousands of cable kilometers from sensors to the plant data center is huge
- Operational inefficiencies, issue notification, and resolution are far from optimal. As the system is isolated it requires an operator to physically visit the site for troubleshooting
Through the I4.0 SPACEWORK forum, Jaramaeng and Barbara discussed how some of these challenges could be addressed with IoT device lifecycle management solutions. It turned out that Barbara OS and Panel fit perfectly in the problem because they had the building blocks to create a simple and scalable IoT based monitoring system preserving the security and integrity of the data.
After gathering the technical requirements for the sensor communication, including physical connection (RS-485 bus), protocol (Modbus) and data structures (PLC memory mapping specs), in a couple of working days Barbara developed an application running in Barbara OS that gathered data from sensors and upload them securely, using IoT protocols over 3G, to a cloud server available in Internet.
In the words of Iván, “The openness and modularity of Barbara Panel help us addressing the challenges of Industry 4.0 with the confidence and peace of mind of a secure and professional platform”. Actually, the solution brings the full benefits of Barbara software:
- It runs over Barbara OS which provides an extra layer of security by design, including among others data integrity protection, encryption, and isolation.
- Is portable to any hardware capable to run Barbara OS (ARM and Intel chipsets and expanding), eliminating hardware vendor lock-ins and integration costs.
- It enables out of the box remote device management through Barbara Panel, including firmware and application updates, remote monitoring of device and app health, and remote operation of devices such as reboots or configuration changes.