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

The issue was not that the OPC Data Access protocols would not work, but that building the IoT Gateway with Web-based protocols would make the data that KEPServerEX collects from process-automation devices, such as PLCs, easier to share with IT-based systems for a wide range of applications. These include network-security, data-analysis, building-management, enterprise resource planning and asset-management systems.

KEPServerEX is a communications platform that is connected to each monitored device on the factory floor via a local network. It collects data regarding metrics, such as the number of rotations of a robotic arm, or the quantity of completed products or components produced. The IoT Gateway, which also runs on the local network as an extension of KEPServerEX, connects this data to the cloud using a REST client agent, which stores information and then periodically pushes it to the cloud, where any application or Web service that the customer uses can access that data.

One of Faurecia's objectives was to use the IoT Gateway, in conjunction with a mobile version of IJ Core, to make it easier for its plant managers to receive alerts—even if they were not at the factory at the time—about any machines on its floor that might require maintenance, based on changes to their output or operation. Another objective was to enable company managers working in offices far from the factory to receive faster updates about the plant's production metrics—anything from the machines' health to an investigation into production problems being detected during quality testing of various parts—by logging into IJ Core remotely.

"In the past," Unruh says, "it was difficult to get this information to [our OEM partners] because it was not Web-based, and so we could not get the information to them in real time."

So far, Faurecia is only using the IoT Gateway at its Porto Real factory in Brazil, which is a small facility with four PLCs. But the company plans to expand the pilot program, and will soon install the IoT Gateway software at a factory in the Czech Republic that runs 50 PLCs. That installation is expected to be completed this summer.

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