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22-10-2019
3 min. read
Sjors de Kleijn

Secure Remote Access for PLCnext control

Get secure VPN and data access for Phoenix Contact control and equipment

With remote access, you can remotely troubleshoot and program your PLC next controller. About 90 percent of operating problems faced by engineers can be solved by remote access to the control system. A prerequisite for remote access is that machines can be accessed from the internet in a secure way. After all, nobody wants to undermine the security or daily operations of the parties involved.

IXON Cloud is designed to offer you easy remote access across the internet to machines and installations at the customer’s site or in the field. IXON Cloud is fully compatible with PLCnext using the IXON Cloud Connector or the IXrouter

  1. Introduction into IXON Cloud: Remote Service and IIoT platform
  2. Connectivity options
  3. Get remote VPN access to PLCnext device
  4. How to access the PLCnext web server (HTTP) remotely
  5. Remote view and control HMI touch screens
  6. How to log data from PLCnext to IXON Cloud
  7. Create dashboards from PLCnext data
  8. Set up predictive maintenance alarms for PLCnext
  9. Try IXON Cloud 30 days with our Starter Kit
IXrouter connected to a PLCnext control for secure worldwide access IXrouter connected to a PLCnext control for secure worldwide access

 

Explore IXON Cloud for remote VPN access to Phoenix Contact PLC

Benefits of using IXON Cloud for Phoenix Contact controllers:

  • A single web-portal to manage all your machines and control user access
  • Plug & Play setup and no additional software needed (fully web-based)
  • Support for Ethernet (LAN), 4G/LTE and Wi-Fi connectivity with the IXrouter
  • Secure VPN connections on desktop and via mobile apps
  • Top-notch security
  • Futureproof and scalable to your (customers’) needs with additional IoT features for data logging, storage, alarms and data visualisation.

Sign up for the Free Product Tour to experience our platform or discover all features.

 

Two connectivity options to securely access your PLCnext controller remotely

There are two easy ways to set up a secure connection to your PLCnext device from anywhere in the world:

  1. IXON Cloud Connector
    IXON has developed an IXagent for PLCnext: IXON Cloud Connector. This embedded software can be installed directly from the PLCnext store onto your PLCnext device and it enables secure VPN access. Installation is easy and quick (installation guide) but is limited to access the PLCnext device only.
  2. IXrouter
    The IXrouter is IXON’s industrial VPN router & edge device and has even more flexibility than the embedded connector. Different models of the IXrouter enable an internet connection via ethernet, 4G/LTE or Wi-Fi. The IXrouter can access the PLCnext controller and provides full access to industrial components in the machine network such as an HMI, IP camera, robot or sensors. To ensure a secure solution it has a built-in firewall to separate the companies network from the machine network.

Both connectivity options connect your PLCnext controller securely (using a VPN tunnel) to the IXON Cloud (a remote service portal). Your machines are remotely accessible in just minutes and can easily be configured to collect and store the data in IXON Cloud – without a line of code. Define the variables you want to log in IXON Cloud and create your own dashboards or alarms.

This short video demonstrates what you can expect from the IXON Cloud connector for PLCnext:

 

Get remote VPN access to PLCnext device

Once your Cloud connector or IXrouter device is activated, you can log into your IXON Cloud account to set up a secure VPN connection to your PLCNext device. Choose the device you want to connect to and press the VPN button. Now, a secure VPN tunnel is created from your computer, via the IXON Cloud to your connected machine. You’ll have full network access to your PLCnext for remote PLC troubleshooting, monitoring and to publish new programming software releases.

 

How to access the PLCnext web server (HTTP) remotely

IXON developed Web Access so you can easily access your machine's HTTP(S) server without requiring a VPN connection. This enables you to access your machine's servers on any mobile and desktop device with an internet connection. 

Access and control the PLCnext webserver directly and securely from your browser, no additional software needed. A speedy and seamless connection is guaranteed, as it runs via IXON's worldwide VPN network.

When your PLC runs an HTTP or HTTPS server, you can access it without requiring a VPN connection. With your IXON Cloud account you can quickly access the HTTP or HTTPS server on any mobile and desktop device with an internet connection. These steps show you how to set up an HTTP or HTTPS service.

 

Remote view and control HMI touch screens

With VPN access you remotely get secure and full network access to the PLC machine network. To give you more options, we support the VNC protocol to remotely access any industrial control system connected to your Phoenix Contact PLC or PLCnext (when using the IXrouter). This functionality is included and free of charge.

Remote monitoring touch panels via VNC

An HMI remote viewer & monitoring option is available using the VNC protocol. View, access and fully control your Phoenix Contact touch screen (or any other HMI brand which supports VNC) remotely via your browser or mobile apps. 

Tip: Download the IXON Cloud mobile app to get push messages of your PLCnext device on your smartphone, access the dashboards, control HMIs and access the web server. Available for iPhone and Android.

Remote view and control Phoenix Contact HMI touch panels Remote view and control Phoenix Contact HMI touch panels

 

How to log data from PLCnext to IXON Cloud

The data logging feature from IXON Cloud lets you log data securely from the PLCnext device to the IXON Cloud. It collects, prepares, transmits and stores data using a secure MQTT, automatically setting up a connection from the PLCnext device to the IXON Cloud. Just define the parameters you want to log and the interval (log on interval, log on change, or log on trigger).

The gathered data can be used for further analysis and optimisation of your system or processes. Use it to send alarms (e.g. when an emergency button is pressed or production line stops) or compose your (live) data dashboards. These additional features are available in your IXON Cloud portal.

The PLCnext device supports the Modbus TCP/IP and OPC-UA protocol. Both protocols can be used to monitor the variables of your PLCNext device (or attached components using the IXrouter).

 

Create dashboards with collected PLCnext data

Once your data is collected from your PLCnext device (e.g. variables), and securely transmitted and stored in IXON Cloud, you can use it to configure your custom dashboards. Using our drag & drop editor, you can add widgets and build multiple dashboards based on the collected data. Add a gauge, period, tables or graph widget to create a data report or live monitor for your machines. 

 

How to create and send alarms for PLCnext controller

Receive warnings about important machine events to reduce downtime or predict maintenance updates. The alarms & notification feature from IXON Cloud allows you to send push messages or emails without any coding. Use it to monitor events and trigger alarms, in the factory or from a remote location, by using the collected data of the PLCnext device.

Define when (variable, condition and priority) the alarm should be triggered and who should receive a notification with instructions.

 

Get started with Remote Access for PLCnext

Experience setting up a secure connection to your PLCnext controller in just minutes! Install the IXON Cloud Connector in the PLCnext store, or request a starter kit with the IXrouter.

[[IXrouter on trial]]