So you have chosen SICK Smart Sensors for the sensing needs on your next industrial machine project, but have you chosen a programmable logic controller (PLC) to manage and process your data?  If you are new to PLCs in your automation projects and are wary of the commitment required to get started using the “big names” on the market, then you owe it to yourself to check out what Unitronics can offer.

PLC + HMI in One Package, Simple Machines to Complex Processes

Any machine or process requires feedback for efficient operation, which is why all of Unitronics’ PLCs are a combination of a PLC plus a Human Machine Interface (HMI) in one unit.  In the simplest form, Unitronics offers text-based LCD character displays with numeric keypads and limited I/O, perfect for the smallest of machines.  At the other end of the spectrum are full-color touchscreen displays that include a range of networking options, expandable input / output capabilities (I/O), multimedia support, email, an onboard web server, remote access and more.  The most attractive part of all of Unitronics’ PLCs is that the software and technical support is FREE!

Communication Options for Industry 4.0

In keeping up with the Industry 4.0 trend of data exchange in manufacturing processes, Unitronics is enabling new communication protocols on their UniStream series of PLCs to help you with the sharing and gathering of information between systems in your plant and around the world.  The latest release of the UniLogic software for the UniStream PLCs includes MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport) messaging, which is an ISO standard protocol that describes a publish-subscribe topology for exchanging information between systems.  MQTT works on top of your existing IT networks via the TCP/IP protocol, so you won’t need to buy new, specialized, hardware to use it.

MQTT requires a server, called a broker, which maintains a list of topics to which clients such as the UniStream PLC can publish and subscribe for information.  The UniStream cannot be a broker, but once one is present in your network the data from your UniStream PLCs can be shared with any other client that also subscribes to those chosen topics.  These other clients could be other UniStream PLCs, user PCs, database ERP applications, and more!  Since MQTT is a standards-based protocol, you can probably find client software for your device of choice and begin sharing and consuming the information that is a part of your plant’s Industry 4.0 architecture.

Communication Options

MQTT is not going to be the only communication protocol you will need for Industry 4.0, but it will help you connect disconnected systems.  Unitronics’ PLCs can support a range of industry-standard Fieldbus Protocols, such as MODBUS, EthernetIP, CANopen, BACnet and more. Having options will allow you to tackle more projects, but options should not be scary.  In fact, the one option on which you don’t need to decide also happens to be the best part of all Unitronics PLCs: software and technical support is free!

Call Tec-Hackett today for more information on Unitronics’ PLC offering!

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