Bringing data together like never before

FlexEdge

Red Lion DA70 and DA50 FlexEdge.

As mining companies face the challenge of trying to balance the extraction and processing of minerals with sustainable mining techniques, Control Logic’s unique products solve many problems in this way. 

Control Logic product marketing manager Martin Daines describes Red Lion’s FlexEdge as a product developed by a research and development (R&D) team that has made a long wish list with an endless budget. 

FlexEdge provides a scalable solution to integrate complex multi-vendor environments into digital transformation strategies, while providing a future-proof solution for changing application needs.

“In simplest terms, the Red Lion FlexEdge is a flexible edge device for the industrial sector that solves multiple problems,” Daines says. “In fact, too many (problems) because it’s impossible to label this product into a specific box.”

With its connectivity being modular and forward-thinking, the product natively supports 4G, GPS, Wifi, Ethernet, USB, Serial, and real-world digital and analogue IO. 

However, Daines says that as today’s technology becomes obsolete tomorrow, Red Lion’s R&D team develops new interfaces to match future needs. 

“This means that investing in a product like the FlexEdge adapts and grows with the business over time,” he says. 

Daines calls FlexEdge an evolution of the Red Lion Data Station. In 2004, Red Lion released a HMI that supported over 300 industrial protocols and had the ability to map data between any protocol. 

Red Lion essentially pioneered Industry 4.0 by transforming the HMI into a din rail Data Station with loads of connectivity, including OPC UA and SQL.

“This meant big brand name PLCs could now talk to each other effortlessly and cost-effectively. The Data Station has a web server to host the graphical HMI pages, a data logger that produced excel files and an alarm manager to email these logs to anybody,” Daines explains.  

“Now fast forward to today, the FlexEdge has the Data Station abilities plus IEC61131 RTU Logic Control and a secure firewall with VPN, NAT, DMZ, VLAN and RADIUS support, to name a few. 

“Together, the FlexEdge brings nearly two decades of industrial automation to the IT realm, effectively bridging the gap between process and business systems, business logic deployed at the edge”

However, Daines says what binds everything together is Red Lion’s free programming software Crimson, which configures everything from firmware, VPN, protocol conversion, ladder logic control, data logging and web pages.

He says, modern technology has opened new ways to set new benchmarks in productivity. Companies looking to enhancing operational excellence will find new opportunities in data analytics from transparent information flows right down to the real-world sensors.

Daines says an Australian Tier 1 mining company looked to data analytics for an optimum way to safely manage its environment responsibilities across thousands of square kilometres.

With hundreds of environmental field sensors strategically positioned around the mine site connected to a solar powered FlexEdge, the company captured environmental dust and water quality metrics. 

Daines says buffered data is continuously fed to a centrally hosted cloud historian where a dashboard allows the business to make insightful decisions to assist their sustainable mining techniques and regularity compliance.

“The FlexEdge is an open platform that enables customers to choose the system architecture that bypasses the burden of existing software limitation, while enhancing cyber security integrity,” Daines says. 

“This is a massive challenge for mine operators to overcome today. The open platform extends to the field hardware because the various IO and protocols the FlexEdge supports, therefore lab-quality sensor could be chosen that otherwise wouldn’t be on the table. 

“FlexEdge makes implementation straightforward, repeatable, reliable, secure and scalable through Red Lion’s mass deployment HMTL dashboard tool, Sixveiw Manager.”

Daines says this is why partnering with a company like Control Logic, which has capabilities across all industries in different capacities with access to over 20 global suppliers, is advantageous. 

“In the same way, we partner with our suppliers to get the resolve for our customers,” he says. 

As a supplier of industrial, electrical and automation products, services and solutions since 1981, Control Logic is committed to collaborating with customers to understand what is driving their business, delivering optimal solutions and building mutual respect and trust.

Control Logic aims to continue offering a comprehensive solutions portfolio in proficiencies such as operational cybersecurity, networking and control that enables customers to effectively meet their challenges at each process stage – from extraction to transportation and benefaction.

“With our integrated approach, solutions for the digitalisation of plants and processes, and profound industry expertise, we can help improve your overall plant performance and secure your long-term competitiveness,” Daines concludes.  

 

This article appeared in the July edition of Australian Magazine

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