Case Studies

IIoT Interface for Agricultural Irrigation Injection System

Posted in Application Development, Azure, Chemical, Digital Workplace Solutions, Energy and Utilities, Internet of Things (IoT), Manufacturing Automation and Intelligence, PLC Programming, Siemens PLC, User Interface Design, Web Application Development

Summary

Agri-Inject is one of the leading chemical injection systems designers and manufacturers for agricultural applications,. They provide some of the most advanced systems in the industry to growers around the world. Their latest system, the Reflex® injection system, provides precise control with variable rates of fertigation. In spite of the great advancements in fertigation, farmers and other growers spend days driving to their fields to monitor and control their irrigation systems as well as create manual logs of the chemicals that have been applied, as required by the EPA and other government entities. DMC worked with Agri-Inject to create an IIoT enabled pumping system to monitor and control the fertilizer and chemical injection system, as well as create precise logs of the chemical applications and associated data.

DMC developed a custom MQTT driver, Azure cloud solution to store the data, and a REACT website to give end-users an easy to use, fully functional interface to monitor and control their equipment in the field. Agri-Inject's customers are now able to remotely control all of their chemical injection systems using the new ReflexCONNECT™ system from anywhere in the world, as well as monitor statuses and log data of their chemical application. DMC and Agri-Inject are continuing to work together to bring even more advanced technology to the fertigation industry.

Solution

DMC created an MQTT driver that bi-directionally connected the PLC to a cloud based broker. MQTT is the industry standard for most IIoT applications and works on a simple TCP connection. For security and connection robustness the connection from the PLC to the cloud was established within an OpenVPN. The MQTT driver sends and receives data between the PLC and our application on Azure and gives the framework for controlling the system in the field. The broker in the cloud receives the data from the plcs and directs the data to the correct application, and also receives commands from the website and transmits the information down to the PLC.

We then made a protocol gateway that communicated the relevant information from the MQTT service to the correct location in the cloud through an Azure IoT Hub. The MQTT messages were received in the cloud by the broker service, which parsed the data through the gateway for storage in to our SQL cloud database. The gateway is also capable of receiving commands from the website via the API and passing the commands to the PLC.

Finally, DMC built a custom REACT webpage with all the same functionality as the system's HMI screen on site, as well as a few additional features. The webpage provides a complete user experience with all controls and functionality for the PLC. The website includes access to user administration, additional units of measurement, and the ability to see historical data including flow rates, pressures, alarm logs, setpoints, and usage. The webpage interacts with the API to send and receive data from the cloud database.

DMC also created a mobile version of the application.

Mobile friendly application Mobile application

Additional Information

DMC trained the client on emerging technologies that are available and guided them toward a more high-tech yet cost effective solution. Additionally, we trained the client on using the custom REACT website we built, the capabilities of the technologies used, and on debugging and troubleshooting.

The customer was also working with multiple other vendors and clients, and DMC navigated communication challenges to manage and complete the project. Finally, we accommodated scope changes and completed additional programming to add features relevant to the client.

Learn more about DMC's PLC Programming Services and Application Development expertise. 

Customer Benefits

  • Increased end-user convenience
  • Easier maintenance and troubleshooting for client and end-users
  • Enhanced user interface functionality and ease of use
  • Alarm notifications via email and text to notify of issues, events, and maintenance schedules
  • Centralized data hub for access to multiple devices
  • Increases visibility and access to essential data including logging and exporting for government regulation requirements

Technologies