Over the last couple of months and service releases, we made continuous efforts to enhance Derdacks capabilities to collect, aggregate and alert shopfloor incidents for our Industry customers that primarily use OPC for alerting. In the accompanying projects, we made big improvements to our OPC Integration even added additional features. The OPC integration received a complete overhaul of the configuration and data management systems and can now handle OPC UA Alerts&Conditions. In conjunction with our well-established Siemens S7 integration, allowing customers to directly access PLCs, we have a solid understanding and foundation to expand into this market.
You might have noticed that I wrote Derdack instead of just Enterprise Alert. This is intentional as both scenarios make heavy use of Enterprise Alerts and Signl4 advantages respectively in a Hybrid setup. We learned that industry customers have, in general, rather small IT departments compared to Tech companies that make use of our Solutions for more than a decade now. This in turn means Enterprise Alerts’ ability to seamlessly integrate into an existing ecosystem, making use of the existing infrastructure and therefore saving money, makes less of an impact. But with the addition of the Cloud Bridge Enterprise Alert is now able to deliver the same level of reliable and targeted alerting, by leveraging our SaaS solution SIGNL4, even with next to no onsite infrastructure.
Up to this point, I kept it rather high level but will have to dig a little deeper now to illustrate how we made this possible without causing your security and firewall admins a headache. The first thing an admin thinks when I propose going hybrid is “Oh no, one more hole in my defense, I don’t like that!” understandable but, in this case, not as bad as you might think. Our Cloud Bridge integration relies on long polling, this means only the Enterprise Alert server initiates connections. These server-initiated connections are a much smaller risk compared to a classic 2-way connection since no inbound ports must be opened. At this point, the admin usually peaks up. With only an outbound connection being enabled you only have to configure one set of outbound rules and be done with it, the destinations that need to be allowed are listed here. This Integration should ease the mind of any admin and reduce the effort needed to get going.
Enterprise Alert will, in this case, serve as a Proxy between your OPC UA server respectively your PLCs and SIGNL4. With the S7 integration, we have 2 options either you run with the built-in integration granting Enterprise Alert direct access to your PLCs, or when this is not possible run our S7 Module as a standalone Instance within your production network and only forward events to Enterprise Alert via an outbound rest call (you might have noticed a theme here), allowing you to put another layer of security between your production lines and your SaaS-based alerting. On the OPC route, we already have an aggregation and abstraction layer in the OPC UA server. Our integration will then just subscribe to the configured OPC nodes and objects.
In both cases, Enterprise Alert offers a powerful set of tools to filter through the events send from either event source. Allowing you to decide in a very granular level to whom and under which condition you want to trigger an alert. You have a valve with a pressure and temperature sensor, and you need to alert when either temperature, pressure, or both exceed a certain threshold for more than 2 minutes? No Problem. But you want to auto-resolve the alert when the valve opens? Sure, can do! You need to know if some item on your conveyor belt is too wide? Swing Switch -> Potential-free contact -> Siemens PLC -> your mobile rings and lets you know. It does not get faster than this.
The combination of Enterprise Alerts maturity as a premiere on-premise alerting and aggregation tool with more than a decade of constant development and improvement and SIGNL4 as the SaaS solution to bridge the “last mile”, allows you to benefit from reduced maintenance and management efforts of a SaaS solution while not sacrificing anything in terms of security and connectivity thanks to the Enterprise Alert Cloud Bridge. In this blog, I was just able to scratch the surface of what is possible. If you are interested in knowing more about this, please feel free to reach out to our support team at firstname.lastname@example.org.