Auto Parts Maker Faurecia Plugs Brazilian Factory into the Industrial Internet

The company is beginning to roll out Kepware's new IoT Gateway, which Kepware says makes it easy for manufacturers to quickly and securely share operational data with cloud-based applications.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
May 04, 2016

Automotive component supplier Faurecia maintains plants throughout 34 countries around the world, where it manufactures seats, airbags, emissions-control systems and other components for vehicles. Two years ago, the firm began upgrading its proprietary manufacturing execution system (MES), IJ Core—partly to improve its performance and partly to make it easier to share data related to its manufacturing processes with its customers by making that information accessible via a secure, cloud-based interface.

Faurecia turned to Kepware, a company that sells industrial-automation software, to help make that transition. It knew Kepware was developing an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solution for its KEPServerEX software product that Faurecia was already using to connect programmable logic controllers (PLCs) on its plant floors to IJ Core.

Sam Elsner
"We started to discuss with Kepware how we could use this IoT product that they were developing" and whether it could be integrated into IJ Core, says Rafael Unruh, Faurecia's competence center manager. The Kepware IoT Gateway is a software plug-in that runs on the KEPServerEX communications platform, pushing data from devices on the factory floor, such as robotic arms used to move assemblies or components, to a cloud-based platform of the customer's choosing.

Sam Elsner, Kepware's senior applications engineer, explains that the key enabler behind the IoT Gateway was to develop data translators that would serve to bridge its customers' operational technology (OT) departments with their information technology (IT) teams. This entailed transitioning from an OPC Data Access server interface, which permits communication between process-control equipment and an MES (in Faurecia's case, that would be IJCORE), to a server interface that uses HTTP protocols built on the Representational State Transfer (ReST) architecture for networked applications.

Kepware's director of marketing, Torey Penrod-Cambra, recalls that after collaborating on a different project with Splunk, a company that sells tools for searching and analyzing large stores of data via a Web-based interface, Kepware's engineers realized that a data architecture using Web-based protocols would be a powerful means for helping its customers create that OT-IT bridge.

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