A Nordic nRF9160 SiP-based IoT module launched by German IoT solutions provider, grandcentrix (part of Vodafone), enables Cloud connectivity via LPWAN technology including NB-IoT and LTE-M for any Modbus RTU (Remote Terminal Unit) devices.
The grandcentrix ‘Modbus Cloud Connect’ is an all-in-one package comprising hardware, connectivity, self-service-portal, and support. It allows any devices running the Modbus RTU protocol to report their data to the Cloud rather than via a wired connection. By using converters, it can also be used for a range of other device protocols like Modbus TCP and CANopen.
Modbus RTU is used for communication in industrial machines and building automation to link machines and enable them to report data or maintenance issues to a central device or server. Typical use cases of Modbus Cloud Connect include the remote connection of industrial machinery, sensors, metering devices, and automation systems. Customers can use Modbus Cloud Connect for data communication from Modbus slaves via NB-IoT, which is well suited for indoor monitoring.
“Modbus Cloud Connect also enables our customers to retrofit existing machines and infrastructure with IoT capabilities,” explains Stefan Dinkelbach, the Modbus Cloud Connect Product Manager at grandcentrix. “This leads to smarter products and assets, for example in terms of being able to measure and influence energy consumption and supporting them with their overall sustainability goals.”
Modbus Cloud Connect connects the Modbus RTU equipment over a local RS-485 interface to a Cloud-based platform or central IT system. The product provides standardized, well-documented interfaces (MQTT and HTTP) to connect to the customer’s Cloud or central IT system. All configuration is done via a user-friendly web interface called a self-service-portal as part of the product.
The NB-IoT and LTE-M cellular IoT connectivity enabled by Nordic’s nRF9160 SiP ensure coverage across Europe and around the world. And being part of Vodafone has also enabled grandcentrix to build complete SIM management into the solution to enable seamless international operation and roaming.
“In addition to its cellular IoT compatibility and being optimized for NB-IoT, the nRF9160 SiP’s compact size and powerful application processor with generous memory for our use cases made the hardware design easy,” says Dinkelbach. “We also use the Nordic platform for all our LPWAN products because of the company’s very good technical documentation, examples, and development support.”