One of the main problems that 4i Platform solves is the heterogeneity of the data sources, such as PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers) with different technologies, instruments, field sensors, and other ad-hoc systems. To deal with this diversity, the platform offers a variety of hardware and software modules, called agents, that are managed and configured in a centralized way through the system website.
Store and Forward
The agents employ a store-and-forward mechanism to send data from its source to the server. This mechanism works in the following way: the agent receives data and stores them in its internal memory, and it proceeds to send packets of data to the server as the network bandwidth allows.
This mechanism allows data acquisition to continue even when the network connection between the agent and the server is intermittent or if the server gets disconnected or loses power. The “lost” data are recovered through a strategy called OOB (Out Of Band), which prioritizes current data.
An example of this technology is the use of 4i DASH GPRS, which communicates with the server via cellular network.
Many times the measurement points and the data acquisition devices are spread out and there is no LAN cable to connect them. In this case 4i Platform provides wireless agents, such as the 4i DASH, which act as gateways to move data to the main server.