Opto 22 announces world’s first Edge Programmable Industrial Controller: groov EPIC

Opto 22 unveils its forthcoming groov EPIC controller, designed to integrate IT and operations technologies by combining I/O, real-time control, local and remote HMI, and industrial/IT data exchange in a compact, industrial package.

One of the primary appeals of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is the promise that existing data-rich devices can be connected for greater data analysis and insight. To date, however, this promise of integration has not been so easy to achieve. Instead it has often led to IIoT systems composed of multiple software technologies, communications protocols, legacy controllers and I/O, and a variety of gateways.

“These kinds of IIoT solutions are expensive to build, difficult to troubleshoot, require multi-domain expertise and are unsustainable over the long term,” says Benson Hougland, Opto 22 vice president of marketing and product strategy. “That’s why we’ve developed the groov EPIC (edge programmable industrial controller) system to help solve these problems by combining I/O, control, data processing and visualisation into one secure, maintainable, edge-of-network industrial system. groov EPIC lets engineers and developers focus on delivering value, not on triaging loosely connected components.”

By combining what Opto 22 calls “reimagined, intelligent I/O” with an embedded Linux real-time controller, gateway functions and an integrated display in one device platform, groov EPIC enables the connection of legacy systems, and control of processes and machine automation, as well as enabling subscription to web services and creation of mashups. It also provides the ability to acquire, publish and visualize data wherever it is needed—in business systems and to mobilize operators. Opto 22 notes that groov EPIC also helps simplify commissioning and wiring for rapid development and deployment.

“The groov EPIC system incorporates in one unit everything needed to connect and control field and operational devices and data, through on-premises IT databases, spreadsheets and other software-to-cloud storage and services—and back again,” says Mark Engman, Opto 22 CEO. “The ability to easily exchange data and use it where needed opens opportunities automation engineers have not had until now.”

Opto 22 expects the groov EPIC system to be of particular interest to engineers in charge of process control, machine control, manufacturing, SCADA/RTU and IIoT applications. Hougland says that OEMs will also be interested in groov EPIC's optional access to the Linux operating system through secure shell (SSH). "This access, along with toolchains and interpreters for Java, C/C++, Python, JavaScript/Node.js, and more allows OEM developers to execute their own custom developed applications on this ruggedised, edge processing control system," he says.

groov EPIC system hardware features include:

  • Industrial modular intelligent I/O, real-time controller and edge gateway in a single stainless-steel chassis;
  • Integrated high-resolution color touchscreen with HDMI output for optional external monitor;
  • I/O module density of up to 24 channels per module;
  • Compact footprint with integrated power supply and dead-front design;
  • On-board system configuration, commissioning and troubleshooting;
  • Remote configuration and troubleshooting from any web browser on any authorized device;
  • Dual, independent Gigabit Ethernet network interfaces;
  • Dual USB ports for serial communications, touchscreen monitors or Wi-Fi adapters;
  • Multiple power supply options including AC, DC and pass-through;
  • Operating temperature range of -20 to 70 °C;
  • Touch-sensitive pad on I/O modules for configuring, commissioning and testing;
  • Spring clamp terminal strip atop I/O module accommodating up to 14 AWG wire;
  • LED indicators for module health at-a-glance and individual discrete channels;
  • Multi-featured analog inputs supporting voltage, current and loop sourcing in a single module;
  • Real-time, open-source Linux OS running on an industrial quad-core ARM processor; and
  • 2 GB RAM, 10 GB user space on an industrial solid-state drive.

Software features include:

  • groov Manage software for tool-less configuration, commissioning and debugging on-board and from anywhere on the network;
  • PAC Control flowchart-based control development environment with scripting and visual debugger;
  • groov View visualization server for creating and viewing HMIs, trends and events for any mobile device or web browser, also viewable locally on integral touchscreen;
  • Node-RED flow-based development environment and runtime for edge data processing, handling and communications;
  • Ignition Edge from Inductive Automation with drivers to Allen-Bradley, Siemens and more;
  • MQTT/Sparkplug protocol for efficient, industrial publish/subscribe communications;
  • Backward compatibility with all Opto 22 SNAP PAC systems and SNAP Ethernet I/O; and
  • Available secure shell access and SDKs for custom user-written applications.

“We are a company of engineers and innovators inspired and driven to create products that unleash our customers’ imaginations,” adds Engman. “groov EPIC is a culmination of that mission, a response to user requests to integrate IT and OT technologies, simplify development and deployment, and provide a platform for long-term growth now and well into the future.”

The groov EPIC system is slated for release in May 2018, with pre-orders beginning in April. For information and application advice, contact an Opto 22 pre-sales engineer at 800-321-6786. 

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