CustomisABLE Remote Access and Data Collection – All in One
Remote access to industrial devices has many undeniable advantages. In the case of a machine failure it enables you to reprogram or repair the machine much faster. The technician dealing with the problem does not have to be physically present on site – whether they are in a neighbouring plant or thousands of kilometres away they have access to the machine via their computer or tablet. This is certainly very cost-effective. Yet many still have doubts about the security of transferred data as well as the reliability of the connection.
How Do Routers for Remote Access Work?
In general, Ewon products (from the company HMS) are routers designed for industrial environments. They are connected to the Internet and allow you to remotely access and manage devices that are connected to them (e.g. PLCs, PCs, IP cameras, etc.), via a secure VPN tunnel. The routers are available in many different specifications. They differ in the number of LAN ports and slots for extension cards as well as capabilities.
Ewon Flexy 205 – Small but Clever
It was not long ago that Ewon introduced its new, compact Ewon Flexy 205 with 4 Ethernet RJ45 ports (LAN/WAN) and 2 slots for extension cards. The word Flexy in this product's name implies the router's core functionality – the router can be customised to meet the customer's needs.
The Flexy is incredibly versatile:
- It enables remote access via the Talk2M VPN service.
- It collects data and saves it to its memory / an FTP server (data can also be retrieved from it).
- It supports HTML5, thus allowing you to access its data visualisation through a browser on your tablet or smartphone.
- It enables you to insert into it exactly the extension card that you need (WAN, WiFi, serial ports, etc.).
- It understands the OPC protocol.
- It supports alarm management – alarm notifications via email and SMS.
- It supports scripting, which means that you can customise the router's behaviour.
The fact that Ewon Flexy 205 supports both remote access and data collection makes it a perfect product for modernising your operations, even if your machines are not state-of-the-art.
Is the Connection Secure?
The router is connected to your computer or tablet through the Talk2M service. This is a cloud service that uses VPN connection (the Open SSL and the Open VPN Version 2 protocols). The reliability and safety of this kind of connection are ensured in the following way.
- Every Ewon installed on a machine is connected to a Talk2M server. The Ewon can communicate with only a server that it shares a special key with, resulting in a secure connection. The user can communicate with only one Ewon at a time. All the data exchanged between the Talk2M server and the Internet is encrypted so your data is perfectly secure.
- VPN tunnels are created by individual Ewons and are used only for outbound connection to the Talk2M. The Talk2M server does not create VPN tunnels, which means that in your firewall settings you do not have to set ports for inbound communication.
- The Talk2M service relies on a layered security approach and two-factor authentication.
What Equipment Do You Need?
The Talk2M service is designed in such a way that it imposes minimum requirements on the user. You only need an Ewon device and access to the Internet via your LAN network, WiFi network or the Ewon's integrated modem (GPRS/EDGE/3G/4G).
If you are using a LAN network, it should enable users to access the Internet from it. The Talk2M service uses commonly open ports – the HTTP port (80) and the associated HTTPS port (443).
And What About Software?
As regards software, remote access via the Talk2M does not require anything special. Everything runs on common Windows operating systems. Your Ewon package comes with the free eCatcher software application, which uses the Talk2M Free+ service free of charge. In the eCatcher application, you create an account for your organisation, which you then use to create individual accounts for your technicians.
Talk2M Free+ or Talk2M Pro?
Apart from the free Talk2M Free+ version, you can also acquire the Talk2M Pro version. The free version is a fully comprehensive service and for many Ewon users around the world it is fully sufficient. Nevertheless, if you have a large team of technicians who will be using the Talk2M service, you should purchase the Talk2M Pro version. What are its main advantages?
- The monthly bandwidth is 6 GB, compared to 1 GB for the Talk2M Free+.
- Several users can be connected to the eCatcher at a time (for Talk2M Free+ it is only one user connected at a time).
- The Pro version allows for advanced user and device management.
Whichever Ewon or Talk2M version you choose, you can be sure that it will provide you with reliable, secure remote access to your industrial devices.