Remote Access and Data Management - Success Story

Power Generation Installation

Scope: Remote access and data collection for cogeneration.

Solution: EZ VPN IOconTM remote assistance, remote control, and IOhubTM data collection.

Market: Energy and cogeneration

The Client: Company X (Company name not shared as requested)

Company X is an international privately held energy group, active in the field of energy distribution, renewable energies and customized energy power solutions. Company X supplies natural gas and electricity to over 31 million customers and is one of the leading global operators in the renewables energy segment, with a total generation capacity of approximately 7 GW. In Europe, Company X ranks among the leading operators in the energy and gas market with over 800,000 customers and a total wind capacity of 328 MW.

The System Integrator: G2 Automation S.r.l.

Since 1969, G2 Automation has been working with industrial automation to meet the needs of Italian manufacturing companies. They help companies achieve their goals by creating and nurturing long-term partnerships with their stakeholders through their commitment for improvement, transparency, sustainability and personal growth. G2 aims to create extraordinarily well-made products by working quickly and effectively to meet their customers’ and business needs. https://g2team.it/

The technology provider: EZ VPN Inc.

EZ VPNTM provides innovative, cloud-based remote access solutions for industrial applications (ICS) as well as a data management platform for Industry 4.0 and IIoT applications. The ability to assemble applications without the use of programming makes the IOhubTM platform one of a kind.

https://ezvpn.online/ioindustry

https://www.ezvpn.online/ioindustry/solutions/iohub

THE CLIENT'S REQUEST

Company X has selected 30 gas turbine cogeneration plants throughout the country that are in need of a complete solution to gain secure and reliable remote access with an integrated application that collects data from the PLC. The solution must send data securely to the corporate Cloud using Microsoft's infrastructure. The 30 plants located throughout Italy are equipped with various types of internet access (ADSL, Radio Link, and satellite connection) and have a heterogeneous PLC configuration. Company X employees and third-party suppliers require access to the remote installation with up to 5 simultaneous connections. When remotely connected to the installation, the operators must be able to fully access the PLC, SCADA, and any other device connected to the system network.

The proposed solution has to guarantee the reading of about 100 registries from the PLCs installed in different plants and data must be sent to the Company X Microsoft cloud database. Once stored in the database, the data will then be processed by PowerBI. The solution must also take into account the natural instability of the internet connections available at the system’s sites, and ensure the consistency of the data. In order to allow local real-time monitoring, the solution must provide a graphical interface for the representation of the data directly installed on the local device while guaranteeing data confidentiality and secure access control.

The new solution will replace an existing remote access device from another vendor.

ANALYSIS OF THE REQUEST

EZ VPN team analyzed the information provided by Company X and partnered with G2 Automation for the implementation of a solution that will meet all of Company X's requirements.

SUGGESTED SOLUTION

With the collaboration of Company X plant personnel, we were able to quickly identify a solution that would respond to all of Company X’s requirements with results that would exceed their expectations. We proposed using an EZ VPN IOX1 device that provides a secure and reliable remote access solution using the IOconTM VPN Cloud service as well as an integrated, robust, and flexible data collection with IOhubTM open data management platform. EZ VPN took care of the implementation and configuration of the hardware. G2 Automation assembled the application to satisfy Company X’s requirements by using the preconfigured containers already available in IOhubTM. By using the preconfigured containers, we easily read the data coming from the PLC installed in the field, saved the data in a DB installed in the local device, and represented the data using a web interface data representation tool. G2 Automation has also integrated its own proprietary application within IOhubTM designed to send data to the customer’s cloud.

THE EVALUATION

After a thorough evaluation and comparison with other competitive solutions, Company X selected the solution proposed by EZ VPNTM and G2 Automation. The first pilot installation project was used as the forerunner for all future installations.

PILOT PROJECT

The pilot project was adopted at the cogeneration plant of a major multinational pharmaceutical company located near Milan, Italy. EZ VPN configured and set up the IOX1 device based on system network architecture. The configuration of the IOX1 device was completed in a few minutes and did not cause any downtime to the cogeneration system. Internet access to the installation is guaranteed by Radio Link, an Italian internet provider. G2 was able to quickly configure their application and in just a few hours and data started to populate the customer’s cloud.

Also, the storage of data on the local DB was implemented within a few minutes, and with the input of Company X personnel, a customized dashboard was created. The data visualization guarantees real-time monitoring of the desired machine parameters as requested by Company X. Remote Access to the installation was completed by granting access to Company X and third-party supplier personnel. The user access was configured using the Group feature provided by EZ VPN. This feature allows for a fast and easy user management. The pilot project was a great success and Company X was happy with the quality of the solution as well as with the quick turnaround and no machine downtime. Also, the solution provided by EZ VPN and G2 Automation was about 60% less expensive than what was proposed by the other solution providers. The difference in cost came mainly from the reduced amount of hardware needed for the installation and the implementation time of the solution. Company X decided, after the installation of the pilot plant, to implement this solution to all existing installations.

REPLICATION OF THE PILOT PROJECT AT THE REMAINING PLANTS

Implementing the solution to all installations was even faster compared to the implementation of the pilot plant. The ability to create templates out of previously configured applications with IOhubTM made the deployment extremely fast.

CONCLUSIONS

Company X project manager was responsible for identifying the best possible solution for their project as well as for the successful implementation of this solution. After the project concluded, he commented: “EZ VPN is an attentive and reliable partner that was able to meet the needs of a demanding and security-conscious customer like Company X. EZ VPN was proactive and met all of our needs by collaborating constructively with Company X and Company X third party suppliers. EZ VPNTM solutions are modern, flexible, and capable of performing the tasks for which they were designed. The quality of the hardware provided was ideal for the harsh industrial environment. I am very impressed with how quickly and easily IOhubTM integrated into our devices without having to develop additional code. Everything was done in a very short time, saving a lot of time and money. We are confident that we will be able to continue the relationship with EZ VPNTM by adopting their solutions for future plants. "

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Useful links

  • Visit our IO Industry page if you are interested in Industrial IoT solutions.
  • Visit our IO Blog page for up to date information about our news releases.

Client Feedback

We were really impressed by the EZ VPNTM technology. With only one device, G2 Automation was able to give us and our partners remote access to the control panels. Thanks to IOhubTM data is securely sent and stored into our Microsoft cloud instance. With IOhubTM we also have a dashboard directly available on the local IOX1 device for on-premise or remote monitoring of the cogeneration plant. We are really satisfied and we are excited to implement this solution in all our current and future plants.

- Company X CEO

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