Industrial connections are typically a confusing mix of modern information technology (IT) elements with engineering operational technology (OT). Physical communications may not always be Ethernet based, and can include elements such as serial or Bluetooth. Similarly, data protocols used over these physical communications have originated over a long period. Many data protocols originated before Internet connectivity was a reality. As a consequence, even something as simple as addressing structures are often unique and can even be specific to a manufacturer, with limited discoverability functionality available. In recent times, this landscape has been further impacted by the emergence of open automation standards (such as Modbus and OPC UA), as well as industry driven standards (such as Sunspec in solar energy industry). Ardexa is an open architecture platform, therefore a user can theoretically establish almost any type of industrial machine connection.
"Machine plugins" are applications developed by Ardexa to read data from identified machines and (in some cases) control aspects of the machine. These applications can be installed via the Ardexa App or the API. As shown below, these plugins are grouped into categories reflective of their function.
Some or all of these machine plugins are made available to your workgroup as required for the tasks identified in your workgroup. If a machine plugin is available to be installed, you will see the "Install" button, otherwise a "Not Available" button will appear (As per the example in the diagram above). For example, if your workgroup has a need to monitor PLCs, you may not necessarily be given access to the Solar Inverter plugins. If you need access to one or more machine plugins, and do not have access, please contact Ardexa support.
Details on accessing the Machine Plugins functions via the Ardexa App can be found here.
Ardexa has implemented a new Dynamic Mapping system, that is used in conjunction with the Machine Plugins. This means that data and metadata is updated automatically when there are changes notified by the Machine Plugin. Machine Plugins, along with Dynamic Mapping allows:
Machine Plugins to be easily installed remotely via the Ardexa App or the API.
Machine Plugins can be easily (re)configured remotely via the Ardexa App or the API. This means changes to the collection rates, changes in accessing the machines and or diagnostics or discovery can be easily changed.
Enables the automatic detection of machine variables. Previously, new or changed machine configurations had to be statically mapped - meaning manual intervention and changes to a configuration file. This was very time consuming and unresponsive. The new method of dynamic mapping is MUCH better.
Updates the metadata automatically when the edge device detects a change to the machine plugin or a network failure. eg. Dynamic Mapping compresses the configuration data for the machine plugin configuration (which can be very big). This means that if I have a station of say 500 machines, all of which are configured identically, then I do not need redundant field definitions for all 500 sources corresponding to each machine.
Details on accessing the Machine Plugins functions via the Ardexa App or API can be found here.