Hilscher Enters IIoT in a Big Way

  • April 04, 2016
  • Hilscher
  • Feature

By Bill Lydon, Editor

Hilscher is loudly entering the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) world with their new line of netIOT products. Over the last year, I met with Hilscher’s Business Development Manager Armin Pühringer and their North American CEO Phil Marshall to hear the Hilscher vision about Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), and to discuss how these new products will put this vision into action. Pühringer explained that the company is expanding their offerings to facilitate the connection of device data from the plant floor to the industrial cloud in order to enable better data-driven decision-making using IIoT gateways and a factory server that normalizes data for enterprise systems and cloud applications.

Specifically, the new products include NetIOT interface modules and netIOT Edge-Gateways. NetIOT interface modules provide embedded IoT connectivity for devices including sensors and enable direct connection of sensor data to the cloud. The new netIOT Edge-Gateways products allow users to connect data from popular industrial Ethernet networks to the cloud, which then offers various levels of performance in regards to security, speed and capacity. MQTT and OPC UA protocols are embedded in these devices, and wireless connectivity is also provided to allow smart mobile devices, including tablets and smart phones, to access field devices for configuration and diagnostics.

IBM Bluemix Partnership Program

Hilscher is demonstrating their new Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) strategy with the announcement that it has become a member of the IBM Bluemix Partnership program, and their offerings will be showcased in an application demonstration in the IBM booth at Hannover Fair in April, 2016. IBM Bluemix is a cloud Platform as a Service (PaaS) developed by IBM which supports several programming languages and contains a large library of IBM, 3rd-party and open source applications, services and APIs for users to purchase on a need-by-need basis to create cloud services and analytics.

Parallel System

The Hilscher netIOT family of IIoT products and solutions for “Industrial Cloud Communications” extract data from plant networks in parallel with existing control data flows, so legacy systems and equipment are not impacted. Industrial cloud communications products and services promote the merging of Operational Technology (OT) with Information Technology (IT) within enterprise architectures. This leverages Hilscher’s broad range of protocol interface technology and products that support all popular automation networks including the netX chip family of protocol converters. Hilscher’s netX chip family supports 17 network protocols including DeviceNet, PROFIBUS, CANopen, IO-Link, EtherNet/IP, PROFINET, Modbus TCP, CC-Link and EtherCAT with 33 different master and slave stacks, all utilizing a common software and hardware interface to integrate Fieldbus and Ethernet networks.

Pühringer further explained that these products deliver functions for manufacturing initiatives including the European Industry 4.0, Made in China 2025, and Japan’s Industrial Value Initiative. He believes current protocol standards are not threatened by IoT as they will run in parallel, so that control and PLC’s legacy equipment and systems will not be obsoleted. IoT capitalizes on the data available from existing networks so, in effect, IoT systems become extensions of existing industrial Ethernet and fieldbus systems.


The core of netIC IOT is Hilscher’s netPROXY, an abstraction layer that normalizes information from various protocols into objects and allows for cyclic and acyclic data exchange with a few simple services. The basic idea of netPROXY is to establish a device-oriented object (and service) interface between application and communication. This abstraction layer hides the complexity, as well as the different protocol APIs. The device manufacturer need only implement this generic object interface in his application and netPROXY transcribes the objects automatically in corresponding network services. Currently Hilscher supports MQTT and OPC UA.

netIOT Edge-Gateways

The Hilscher netIOT Edge-Gateways securely couple field devices, using automation network interfaces (including Profinet, EtherNet/IP, and DeviceNet), with enterprise and cloud systems. The Gateways support both hardwired and wireless Ethernet, while using Hilscher netIOT Studio with Node-RED software to allow users to define context for the data that is transported using OPC UA or MQTT.

netIOT Edge-Gateways Support Hardwired and Wireless Communications


The company offers the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) netIC IOT daughter board which can be added to existing designs.

netIC IOT with DIL-32 daughter board design for OEMs

Thoughts & Observations

This is a logical addition to the Hilscher product line of protocol gateways, allowing users to mine manufacturing and process data in order to improve operations and leverage a wide range of new analytics and optimization software.

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