Edge Gateway Accessories Expand Connections, Power and Protection for IoT

Topics in this article

Intelligent devices for Internet of Things (IoT) networks deliver better value when they can help to bridge between the needs of the IT department and the operations technology (OT) department. The intersection of IT and OT is a focus for Dell and IoT, and the latest round of releases and enhancements for our Edge Gateway 5000 Series demonstrate that.

Our first commercial version, Dell Edge Gateway 5000 Model, was released earlier this year, and already we’ve had an enthusiastic response. The gateways are purpose-built for industrial uses, so are fanless and long-lived, with a variety of traditional and modern I/O, and meant to be wall or DIN-rail mounted. We’re helping to show pragmatic use of IoT with helpful use-case blueprints on automated demand response management for energy and predictive management. Customers, such as ELM Energy and Richard Childress Racing, are achieving pragmatic IoT success with our gateways. Partners in our IoT Solutions Partner Program are also offering sophisticated IoT solutions.

Today, the industrial version, Dell Edge Gateway 5100, will start shipping, with the ability to withstand hotter (up to 70°C) and colder (down to -30°C) environments. We’re also now offering a third operating system — Windows 10 Enterprise IoT LTSB — which will join Wind River Linux and Ubuntu Snappy. And we’ve created an IoT version of our Dell Cloud Client Manager, called Edge Device Manager, which we’re offering as a free trial version for a limited time. EDM helps to deploy, group, and securely manage the sensors and devices in the IoT network, regardless of their physical location.

I’m also really proud of our new gateway accessories, which we designed based on discussions with industry experts and our own rugged engineering designers who know these markets well. Here are some details on the 5 new accessories:

Edge Gateway with Power Module on left and Input-Output Module on right

Power Module

The power module provides supplementary power for a PCIe card (in your I/O expansions module). PCI Express is a new protocol that expands the PCI software usage model and replaces the physical bus with a high-speed serial bus serving multiple lanes. PCIe expansion cards multiply hardware and help give our gateways additional capabilities, such as data acquisition and multimedia applications including streaming audio and video. PCIe cards also help speed up throughput while reducing bandwidth. The Power Module is useful for UPS battery back-up, 24V AC/DC redundant power, and as an AC adapter for the gateway. Especially useful in smart factory and other industrial use cases, the redundant power helps prevent expensive downtime.

Input-Output Expansion Module

IoT is all about connecting sensors, systems and devices, and our Edge Gateways connect with a variety of traditional and modern I/O. This module helps customers to prepare for expansion with two additional USB ports, a serial port and GPIO. The module also houses a standard half-length, full-height PCIe card, as noted above. Requires the additional power module.

Rugged Enclosure

This IP65-rated, lockable, hardened enclosure can protect Edge Gateways when wall mounted in unsecure indoor locations, inside factories with airborne contaminants, and in outdoor applications with exposure to the elements. Its chassis intrusion switch can send an alert for unauthorized access, which also helps keep IoT networks secure, especially important for nodes at the edge of the network. While the rugged enclosure is optimized for heat dissipation for the new Model 5100, the Model 5000 can fit inside just fine too. This enclosure makes our ruggedized intelligent gateways just that much tougher without requiring the addition of a fan, which would reduce reliability.

ZigBee Module

ZigBeeZigBee is a global wireless standard that enables simple and smart objects to work together. These little dongles, the size of a thumb drive, insert into a USB port on the gateway and hold a lot of power for their size. ZigBee and 6LoWPAN are short-range wireless protocols for the innovative, low-energy approach to I/O called mesh networking which require a gateway to communicate with the internet to save power. Wireless mesh networking technologies are attractive for use cases that require sensors (e.g. temperature, motion) distributed throughout buildings and outdoors because each sensor can last for up to 2-3 years on a single battery. This 802.15.4-based wireless protocol is well-suited for handling the obstructions and interference commonly found in industrial settings. 

CAN bus Card

CAN bus cardThe CAN protocol is commonly used in the transportation vertical, and allows controllers and devices to communicate with each other in applications without a host computer. Also used in many other contexts, the message-based protocol is still one of five protocols used in the on-board diagnostics (OBD)-II vehicle diagnostics standard. This optional card device installs as a daughter card on the Edge Gateway motherboard and provides CAN bus support, integrates into the protocol, and can drastically reduce the chance of data loss and help to ensure system reliability.

About the Author: David Chang

Topics in this article