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System links sensors to any cloud in less than a minute

29 January, 2019

At the recent SPS IPC Drives show, a German start-up demonstrated a technology for connecting industrial sensors and actuators rapidly to almost any cloud platform, without needing edge gateways or fieldbuses. The system connects IO-Link-supporting sensors to the cloud using a plug-and-play approach. It recognises and configures IO-modules (such as IO-Link masters) and sensors automatically.

As soon as a sensor or IO-module is plugged into a device called a CloudRail.Box, it appears on a configuration interface. A cloud platform is then chosen and the sensor data appears in the cloud. Projects no longer take weeks or even months to implement; the CloudRail process is said to take less than a minute.

“IT departments are taking over more and more classic automation tasks,” points out CloudRail’s CEO, Felix Kollmar. “With CloudRail, we are creating a new generation of automation technology for IT professionals, from the sensor directly into the cloud, without the need for domain-specific knowledge about field buses, for example.”

Currently the system supports Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, SAP Cloud, IBM Cloud, Google Cloud and the Alibaba Cloud. CloudRail plans to add more in the future.

The CloudRail.Box is configured and managed via a cloud-based device management system. Users can view the status of all connected modules and sensors, control the data flow to cloud providers, and initiate remote firmware updates.

CloudRail is offering its technology as a complete package to partners such as sensor and IO-module suppliers, or as software for existing hardware. Founded in 2013, the company specialises in interoperability between apps, clouds and smart devices. It has two product lines: cloud connectors for the IT industry; and systems for connecting industrial devices to the cloud.

CloudRail’s box connects field devices rapidly to the cloud

Although relatively unknown in the automation sector, CloudRail has been supplying cloud connectors to the software sector for several years. “Our technology already runs on more than 150 million devices worldwide,” Kollmar reports. “With this know-how, we are now bringing the OT into the cloud so that the Industrial Internet of Things can finally become reality.”

CloudRail pricing will be based on a combination of the hardware cost of the CloudRail.Box (€599) plus a subscription based on the number of sensors or actuators connected to the cloud. Connecting up to 20 sensors will be free for the first 12 months, and €490 per year thereafter. The annual subscription for up to 100 sensors will be €1,900.

CloudRail expects to ship the first boxes by the end of the first quarter of 2019.

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