Hello and welcome!  We are members of the Siemens MindSphere team in Zürich, Switzerland.  Along with other colleagues, our goal is to help industrial customers and partners in the Swiss market achieve their digital transformation objectives.  In pursuit of that goal, we work extensively with Siemens’ MindSphere platform, along with selected 3rd party tools and apps from the MindSphere ecosystem.  One such solution is Edge2Web Director, a visual app builder platform aimed at non-programmers – people like us who understand industrial applications and need to get our apps built quickly, without a lot of coding.  The goal of this post is to share our early experiences working with Edge2Web Director.

Demo in a Box

We first learned of Edge2Web on MindSphere from a March 2018 webinar.   We knew right away we wanted to take the product for a test drive, so we signed up for Edge2Web’s Early Experience Program.

Demo Model

We had created a portable kit called Demo Model, which is essentially an electric motor, sensors and a data collection appliance enclosed in a rugged case.  We bring the Demo Model kit to trade fairs and events to show how easy it is to connect a physical device to the MindSphere IoT platform.  When running, Demo Model’s IoT Gateway MindConnect Nano appliance receives readings from on-board sensors and transmits them to MindSphere. (Note: click on the image for a larger view)

Demo Model collects four real-time metrics from the on-board sensors:

  • Torque (Drehmoment)
  • Revolutions per minute (Drehzahl)
  • Motor voltage (Motorspannung)
  • Motor current (Motorstrom)

We decided to create a dashboard using Edge2Web Director to visualize these variables, and to explore some of the other features of Director that could add further insight to our demo.  We were able to produce the dashboard below very quickly and with no programming.  We were impressed.

Demo Model Dashboard

The Demo Model dashboard uses a number of Director’s built in data renderings including Timeseries (both Line and Area), Power Gauge, and Progress Bar.  We’re also using Director’s Timeseries State renderer to show different operating states of the motor over time – very cool!

Taking Flight

Our second Edge2Web-MindSphere app was inspired by the Gordon Bennett Cup (GBC), the world’s oldest gas balloon race.  The 2018 edition of the event was scheduled for September 27 – October 6 in Bern, Switzerland.  Since Siemens was an event sponsor, we thought it would be interesting and fun to bring together the old and new worlds.

Our idea was to build a small, inexpensive tracking kit that could be attached to our sponsored balloon to record temperature, positioning, velocity, humidity and other interesting flight metrics.  Our tracking kit included:

  • A GPS tracker
  • An ambient sensor
  • A battery power bank
  • A wireless 3G router
  • A Raspberry Pi + sense hat

The Pi functioned as our data collector and gateway, pushing collected readings into MindSphere using the MindConnect interface.

As a GBC sponsor, Siemens had a stand on the event grounds.  We aimed to show attendees on the ground what was happening in the air via the dashboard below.  Creation of this dashboard in Edge2Web Director was quite straight-forward.

Siemens GBC Balloon Tracking Dashboard

Although we were ready to put our balloon tracking kit into action at the GBC event, Mother Nature was not too cooperative.  High winds and bad weather conditions caused the 2018 put the event at risk and, in the end, our balloon was grounded.  To prove our technology concepts actually did work as designed, Daniel put the tracking kit in his car and took a drive around Zürich.  The map below shows a portion of his route.

GBC Balloon Position Tracker

 

What We Have Learned

As we’ve gained experience and speed using Edge2Web Director, we have found that the combination of Director and MindSphere can be used to quickly create highly insightful applications.  Although our first few apps have been aimed at basic dashboarding, these apps can easily be expanded to drive transformative value.  For example, the functionality of our Demo Model dashboard could be readily extended to incorporate OEE tracking and reporting.  And the concepts proven in our Balloon Position Tracker can be used today for mobile field service, rolling stock applications, fleet management, and many others.  Think about that for a moment – complementary platforms like MindSphere and Edge2Web now enable you to create a wide range of digital industrial applications – quickly and easily – without a lot of coding.  The future is truly now!

 


Roger Hepp and Daniel Ehrensperger are members of the Siemens MindSphere team in Zürich, Switzerland, where Roger is Head of Plant Data Services and Daniel is a Digital Solution Engineer.  Along with colleagues on the Siemens Swiss team, their goal is to help industrial customers and partners achieve their digital transformation objectives.