Updated: 9/2/08; 7:23:46 AM.
Gary Mintchell's Feed Forward
Manufacturing and Leadership.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Online Development Selects Kepware for M2M Gateway Product

Kepware Technologies announced August 25 that it was selected as a strategic provider of communications for Online Development Inc. and its development of a new Machine to Machine (M2M) communications gateway. The gateway will have a form factor for use with an Rockwell Automationâo[dot accent]s Allen Bradley ControlLogix controller and also as a standalone solution for use between other third party automation controllers.

Online Development is a developer of add-on and private labeled modules for Allen Bradley automation solutions. Its next generation of intelligent modules is targeted at enabling the Allen Bradley ControlLogix platform to communicate with other automation equipment in a high performance and reliable M2M configuration. A partnership with Kepware is making this possible through the licensing of Kepware's KEPServerEX and LinkMaster products. This new product is currently under development and will be available in the fall.

In addition to licensing Kepware products, Online Development has joined the "Connected with Kepware" Vendor Protocol program and has developed specialized backplane communications between an Allen Bradley ControlLogix processor and its co-processor solution to enable a reliable and high performance integration. The stand alone configurations will enable the delivery of Gateway communication solutions, allowing M2M connectivity between thousands of different devices via over 100 communications protocols encompassing both Serial and Ethernet communications.

"Kepware offers an exceptional range of communications options, second to none," explains Ron Monday, President of Online Development Inc.  "This offering will enable Rockwell Automation ControlLogix users to reliably tie their control systems to third party solutions. In the stand alone module configuration, we can support the integration of various protocols simultaneously, for example, the connectivity of data between GE Fanuc, Rockwell, Siemens, Mitsubishi, Omron and dozens of other vendor offerings."

The interesting thing about this, aside from Kepware continuing to build its considerable communications business, is the subtle redefinition of the term M2M. I was originally introduced to the term by Opto 22 and Nokia where it was essentially an RTU type of application using cellular as the broadband. I began to wonder why just stop with cellular as the broadband years ago. The original transcription was Machine to Mobile. Then it became Machine to Machine. Then theorists posited that the technology could be used by OEMs to monitor their machines on customers' factory floors either for service and support or for information related to product development.

This technology enables real-time communication of controller to controller. In other words, it could be a real-time controller network, according to Roy Kok, vice president of sales and marketing for Kepware. This greatly expands the notion of M2M--and its usefulness. This is especially true where an end user may have machines with controllers from a variety of suppliers.
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