24 Jul 2024


Technology sends data from PLCs to mobile devices

The IoT Communicator and app provide convenient and secure access to process data via mobile devices

The German controls manufacturer Beckhoff has announced a software technology that makes it easy for PLCs to communicate with mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, and to portray process data on them remotely. The TwinCat 3 IoT Communicator connects the controller directly and securely to a messaging service, and can transmit data to multiple end-devices, as well as monitoring status changes and sending information back to the controller.

An associated Android or iOS app, called the IoT Communicator, shows the process data on a mobile device. By visualising live data, variables and status values, the technology is said to offer several advantages over e-mail and SMS messaging. It can also send alarms to mobile devices as push messages.

The Communicator links a Beckhoff TwinCat controller to a messaging service directly and securely via TLS (Transport Layer Security) encryption. It can be set up easily in the TwinCat engineering environment to send and receive push messages and process data between the PLC and mobile operating systems. Because each end-device is registered with a unique ID, messages can be transmitted to specific people and/or controllers.

The Communicator exchanges data using a publish/subscribe mechanism. Because no special firewall settings are needed, it is easy to integrate into an existing IT network. Information is exchanged via a message broker that uses the MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport) protocol and acts as a central messaging service in a cloud or local network. A high level of communication security is ensured by the TLS encryption (up to version 1.2).

The free IoT Communicator App incorporates a QR code scanner, making it easier to enter or access data for communication between the broker and individual users.