The Throughput Connection
The past three years have been like no others any of us could have predicted or thought we would experience.
Firstly, the pandemic which basically shut the whole planet down and then all the things that followed that. Inability to travel, inability to see customers face to face and the ongoing saga of what happens if you get sick.
What few of us could have expected was the knock-on effect of the component shortage worldwide and the impact that would have on the industrial controls an automation market. We are obviously through the worst now but I'm still hearing about companies being put on a six-month waiting list for certain products and these are not just special items but PLC processes and I/O cards as well as HMI and variable speed drive devices.
Working in our industry is never easy but with this particular bull-bait thrown in, on top of deterioration in the ZA Rand to our major trading partners as well as the remnants of covert this has not been an easy time for any of us.
Secondly, to our customers we thank you for persevering with us and being patient in terms of supply of hardware. I would also like to say well done to you all for getting through this time and coming out the other side still alive and kicking. These have not been easy times and for you to still be there and doing what you do shows perseverance, competence and a will to survive - so well done. And let’s keep going.
How did Westermo cellular gateways with WeConnect software find their way to the Galápagos Islands?
The Galápagos Islands are a volcanic archipelago, roughly 1,200 km off the west coast of Ecuador, on the Equator, in the Pacific Ocean. The isolated islands inspired Charles Darwin's theory of evolution and is today a World Heritage site that showcases the preservation of a diversity of unusual plant and animal species. The Galápagos is a unique destination on any wildlife enthusiast's bucket list.
What were the service provider’s (client’s) issues being faced?
“To maintain uninterrupted services in accordance with stringent regulatory conditions, remote monitoring solutions and access to equipment at various sites across the islands are essential.” The islands receive +200,000 visitors per year. Most of which carry a mobile phone and expect perfect connectivity.”
To support a satellite operator-managed service to one of its mobile network operator customers, telecommunications consultant Specialized RF, developed a remote access solution for the monitoring and control of critical equipment.
The key selling point was ...
Jens Langenhorst of Specialized RF states “The selling point for me was the WeConnect secure VPN service. Not only was it easy to set up and configure, but it was already integrated into the Westermo cellular gateway. My satellite clients employ specialists around the globe and using WeConnect they can access and recover any issue remotely, within minutes.”
Connecting the islands to the mainland: “Deployment of the remote monitoring solutions are at cellular tower sites located across the islands. These applications had specific criteria and limitations to work within. For example, the available power source at the sites is 0 to - 48V DC only."
“Furthermore, to provide redundant connectivity, a dual SIM gateway with external antennas that can be positioned outside of the typical metal racks or shelters was needed.”
The integrated solution
“In addition, this solution now unlocks a much wider set of available global skills that can assist anytime, anywhere. In turn, simply put, it results in improved cellular services and uptime in the Galápagos Islands.”
Westermo cellular gateways with WeConnect solve remote monitoring in harsh remote locations. The solution presented was the Westermo MRD-455, industrial 4G LTE Cellular Router.
Why 3G shutdown is relevant to you
When the sun sets on 3G
As network providers worldwide gradually phase out 3G technology, the implications extend beyond national borders, particularly for machine builders involved in exporting across different countries. The impact of the 3G shutdown must be considered on a broader scale.
The rationale behind the phasing out of 3G networks is rooted in the evolution of mobile technology. As an older technology, 3G occupies valuable wireless spectrum, prompting mobile network operators to decommission these networks in order to repurpose the spectrum for more advanced technologies like 4G LTE and 5G networks.
The timeline for 3G shutdown varies from country to country. While some nations have already transitioned to 5G networks, others are still in the process of upgrading from 3G to 4G. The speed of adoption of these newer technologies influences the demand for 3G services, thereby determining the timing of the 3G shutdown.
The impact of the 3G shutdown extends to remote connectivity. If you or your customers rely on a Secomea 3G SiteManager or any other 3G device for remote access to industrial equipment, you may face connectivity issues. Although the Secomea 3G device can fall back to 2G networks, it's important to note that these networks are also being phased out. Consequently, relying on such connectivity may eventually lead to service disruptions for your customers. It is crucial, therefore, to replace your device with one that supports 4G service to ensure uninterrupted connectivity.
NOTE: The shutdown of 3G networks is scheduled for March 2025 in South Africa.
Westermo’s new Merlin 4400 series cellular gateway
SCADAs are often used in industrial settings to get a holistic picture of a system. Incompatibility is a common problem in these types of settings as networks grow, systems are added, and protocols change. This is seen especially in electrical reticulation and sub-station control applications.
Merlin 4400 offers protocol conversion, which eliminates the need for SCADA systems to communicate over multiple points. This is critical for the interoperability of multiple systems with a variety of protocols.
The Westermo range of industrial wireless cellular routers provides resilient remote access and eliminates the need for costly site visits. Whether you’re using a 5G, 4G LTE, 3G or 2G connection, Westermo has a solution. With support for secure VPN communications, static and dynamic IP routing, NAT, port forwarding, OpenVPN (SSL VPN), and a stateful packet inspection firewall, Westermo's industrial cellular routers provide secure and reliable communications.
Reference: View the Merlin range here »
Throughput recently participated in two influential shows, Africa Automation Technology Fair (Gallagher) and Enlit Africa (CTICC). These exhibitions provided us with a valuable platform to connect with both existing and new customers, showcase our latest hardware and software solutions, and gain a comprehensive understanding of the market sentiment.
It was a pleasure to reunite with industry colleagues and engage in discussions about the present state and future trajectory. The feedback received from these shows allows us to identify challenges faced by customers and determine the necessary solutions. We are proud to offer technology solutions that stand among the best in the industrial data communications domain.
Debbie Sans-souci originally from Durban, joined TT Team January 2023 on the post of Income & Disbursements. She handles all duties for accounts: Sending out statements, dealing with enquiries, invoicing, collection of monies due, verifying correct details for customers, doing references for credit applications. Also deals with the courier company – completing waybills for customer deliveries.
Brian Bourn re-joined TT Team March 2023, now on the post of Data Base Manager. Formerly worked in TT Accounts for about five years. Ensures the DB is maintained and up to date, with a forward view of expanding the awareness of TT and our products amongst our customer base, current and future.
DID YOU KNOW?
At a Glance: The industrial communication market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 10.92% between 2022 - 2027. The size of the market is forecast to increase by USD 73.71 billion. The growth of the market depends on several factors, including rising adoption of IIoT technology, the emergence of new and innovative Fieldbus, and the increasing deployment of industrial Ethernet solutions.
Article summary: The market is segmented by product (Fieldbus, industrial ethernet, and wireless), type (component, software, and services), and geography (APAC, North America, Europe, South America, and Middle East and Africa). The fieldbus segment's market share growth will be significant during the forecast period.
Fieldbus is an industrial network system used for real-time distributed control, with various types such as Profibus and Modbus. Profibus connects automation modules and process control through a single multidrop cable, making it economical for large construction sites. The adoption of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology drives market growth. IIoT is a network of devices embedded with sensors, software, and hardware that collect and exchange data without human intervention.
About 40% of these devices will be smart devices, while the rest will be traditionally non-internet-enabled devices. The integration of fieldbus and IIoT offers benefits such as improved connectivity, security, and performance, reducing costs and downtime. However, a key challenge is the lack of determinism in industrial communication networks, which hampers real-time control and can impact manufacturing processes and personnel safety.
Reference: Read the full article here »