Machine to Human Communication via Social Networks

Posted on November 30, 2014 by


“Machines can tweet, too” – so the title of an article of a recent version of the T-Systems customer magazine “Best Practice” reporting an interesting (and innovative) example of Smart Machines and the Industrial Internet – and how social media is meeting Industry 4.0 automation.

From the article: Schildknecht AG, …, uses Twitter to let machines communicate with people, making both sides smarter. Whether single devices or complete production lines – the people responsible for operating the machines are active followers of a closed or open user group, which can follow and manage the tweets on a smartphone, tablet PC, or desktop computer. If a machine reports a product error or a malfunction warning, the communication can be bi-directional: The user can send a tweet back to the machine, for example, to reset the error.

and it continues: “Implementing such solutions on a large scale requires reliable, secure networking from end to end.

I was curious to learn more about the technical details of this story.
The report apparently refers to the Schildknecht product DATAEAGLE Compact 7000 – and its services and communication behaviour.

DATAEAGLE can be described best as a device capable of transforming/translating machine signals and machine protocols into data that can be communicated by IT networks and processed by IT systems – and vice versa.

The signals/machine information can be obtained from wired machine communication interfaces (analog, serial,Profibus, Profinet) but also from wireless inputs via Bluetooth, WLAN, Zigbee and Enocean, the latter two probably yet less known in the traditional office IT world.

The machine information received by the DATAEAGLE device, such as machine status or error messages, is transformed into than communicated to a “cloud based service memory” (Internet based high performance data centre) before being communicated/pushed  to final recipient, which could be a human or also another machine – via Twitter Push Messaging service.

The primary mean of linking the device to the cloud based service memory is a mobile network service.

This is an quite interesting example of how not just information technology but cyberspace services (such as social networks) penetrate conventional industrial manufacturing.

It is also a good real life example of why the industrial manufacturing expert community need to work together more and and more and very closely with cyber security expert community.

The Cyberspace meets with the industrial plant. So do the cyber risks.


Posted in: Observation