Increasing efficiency and reliability with secure hardened Modbus-to-BACnet Gateways

Manufacturers’ Monthly speaks with Madison Technologies about the efficiency and reliability of the MOXA MGate unit for industrial applications.

In the age of the Industrial IoT (IIoT) and the data-driven economy, Australian manufacturers face increasing global competition, shorter product cycles, and changing customer demands.

This places pressure on manufacturing facilities to be digitally connected to improve flexibility, efficiency, and overall throughput.

Increasing cost-effectiveness of cloud technologies enables traditional manufacturers to adopt more advanced systems and move beyond traditional supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA).

While traditional SCADA systems cannot communicate with operations and logistics, embedding more intelligent controls, sensors, and process monitoring equipment alongside existing SCADA systems can help manufacturers improve quality in processes. It also allows them to adopt preventative maintenance and condition-based monitoring strategies.

A new series of secure, hardened Modbus-to-BACnet protocol gateways, the Moxa MGate 5217 Series, consists of industrial protocol gateways that support Modbus RTU/ASCII/TCP to BACnet/IP protocol conversions. This makes it easy to integrate industrial devices into an energy management system (EMS) and/or energy management devices into an industrial system (SCADA).

The MGate 5217 protocol gateways’ design is based on the IEC 62443 standard to enhance connectivity security. In addition, the MGate 5217 protocol gateways feature a reliable design that ensures continuous operation under harsh condition and easy-to-use tools to make device configuration and troubleshooting easy.

Madison Technologies technical support engineer, Navin PramKumar, said the unit allows control systems to communicate both ways for integrating applications such as power metering, lighting control, HVAC, and CCTV on to one management platform.

“Typically, you would have a monitoring system that monitors all those BACnet devices. Modbus is also a similar protocol, but it’s used mostly used for industrial electronic applications. These two protocols can’t talk to each other natively,” he explained.

Secure hardened to protect critical assets

Critical power communication takes place in applications such as data centres where vulnerabilities are unacceptable. Based on the IEC 62443 standard, the MGate 5217 protocol gateways’ design supports various security features, such as whitelisting, account management, password policy, and a TLS secure connection, that allow only authorised users and prevent unwanted access and enhances connectivity security.

“An advantage of MOXA MGate 5217 is the cybersecurity services, such as account management, password policies and whitelisting, which are not offered by competitors,” PramKumar explained.

Reliable design for continuous operation

Critical power communication cannot endure system downtime, delivering reliable communication between power monitoring devices and SCADA systems is critical.

The MGate 5217 protocol gateways feature 2kV serial port isolation and a -40 to 75°C wide operating temperature range to ensure reliable communications and operations. In addition, the MGate protocol gateways come with a five-year warranty, ensuring stability and reliability for long-term operations.

In power monitoring applications, devices such as power meters, automatic transfer switches (ATS), or UPS controllers are required to be connected and communicate with SCADA systems for instant power status monitoring. The installation and maintenance of numerous communication devices can be a daunting job. The MGate 5217 protocol gateways support an easy-to-use configuration tool and a built-in troubleshooting tool that make installation and maintenance easy and fast.

“It’s a three-step process that’s easy to configure. It has a built-in troubleshooting process as well. You can use that in the field if you’re coming across an issue,” PramKumar explained.

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