IIoT course featuring IXON solution starting at IES Cavanilles in 2022
IES Antonio José Cavanilles (IES Cavanilles) is a public VET and Baccalaureate centre in the city of Alicante. The studies are focused on the industrial sector, including electrical installations, automation, robotics, CNC, mechanical manufacturing, and mechatronics. They are advanced by on-site and blended learning programmes to facilitate the retraining of active workers in the latest technologies.
We talked to Professor Roberto Álvarez, who is an electrical engineer and joined IES Cavanilles in 2008 to teach Industrial Automation and Robotics. He is in charge of Industrial Communications and PLC programming and is currently working on setting up a new specialisation course in IIoT as part of the Smart Manufacturing course.
A Smart Manufacturing course with a focus on IIoT is a very future-oriented and novel idea. What made you think it might be a valuable addition to IES Cavanilles’ curriculum?
Technology surrounding the industrial IoT is relatively new in the academic field and has therefore taken a while to be incorporated into the curriculum. Many industries have been working on implementing IIoT in their operations and seeing both the challenges and the benefits associated with that. However, now it has become much more of a common topic and students need the know-how and first-hand experience to be prepared for future job requirements.
What’s more, not all companies have an IT department and many tend to rely on third parties. Being able to offer a secure IIoT and/or VPN solution to their customers is an important way to help them improve their business performance. As a professor, I have to give my students - mostly working technicians - a useful overview of this type of technology so they can then apply it according to their needs and professional projects.
What do you need for a course like that?
Such a course requires a review of the main communication protocols, followed by a focus on IIoT protocols. To facilitate that accordingly, I knew that it would be crucial to not only showcase industrial remote access via VPN but also the capabilities of the IIoT platform and its integration with other platforms.
I was doing research on a variety of options and came across the IXON website. Initially I only considered the remote access possibilities, but after seeing the features of the IXON Cloud solution, the value-added capabilities of the IIoT platform convinced me. It was a perfect match for what I was looking for.
Any technician with minimal knowledge of the equipment can configure the router and the PLCs to select the data that will be sent to the IXON Cloud
How are you planning to integrate IXON’s solution into the new course?
We are planning to make the IXON Cloud solution - both the router and the features - part of the course starting 2022. Students will have the possibility to work with a real solution that is being used in the market. They will learn the ins and outs of establishing VPN access, apply a variety of the features to monitor machines, collect and analyse data, and implement their learnings in projects.
IXON's solution is especially well suited for this, as the VPN access is incredibly easy to set up and use, with no ports to open or forward, no complex configurations to enter, no DNS services to configure, all through a web interface. Hence, a good fit for teaching purposes.
IXON is unbeatable in its configuration simplicity, putting remote management and data collection within the reach of any technician without great knowledge of networks and with remarkable security.
Next quarter we will work on Cloud services and test IXON’s IIoT platform, which is great for gaining concrete insights into machine data. For example a machine builder can use it to take care of machine maintenance and only provide supervisory access to users or choose to also offer engineering services and data collection, up to full access to the device.
The possibility to give access to users by roles is also a very powerful and valuable one. For us it means that several users can be created with different roles for students so that they can practice with different levels of control of the installations, and explore integration possibilities with other platforms. Of course we are just starting with this course, so we will be working to adjust and improve all of its aspects based on market developments and experiences we make along the way.
Get an impression of the set-up and implementation: