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KEB Technology

C6 Industrial VPN Router – Remote Machine Connection

Jonathan Bullick | December 8th, 2015

KEB’s C6 Industrial VPN Router allows a user to make a secure VPN connection to a machine or PLC (3:33 Youtube video how it works).

allen bradley remote connect video

The advantages of remote machine connection are pretty clear and could help the following: start-ups, troubleshooting, diagnostic gathering, preventative maintenance, and so on.

The biggest thing our customers mention over and over is time and opportunity cost. A 1-Hour customer visit can easily involve 1-2 days of travel time depending on the location.

The Router is a first-line tool that be used before making that commitment to go onsite. Here are some more advantages of the C6 Router.


Remote Machine Connection – Ease of use

Connecting a machine to the internet typically involves two parties: the machine builder and an IT manager. Both parties have their own motivations and concerns to implementing a solution.

KEB’s C6 Router satisfies both the control engineer and the IT manager for its ease of use. For the machine builder, a remote connection can be made with only a few mouse clicks. For the IT person, KEB’s Combivis CONNECT software comes with an extensive configuration set which allows different functionalities, ports, access rights, firewalls, etc.

The different settings are easily configured through drop-down menus in the administrator profile.

Sample IT admin screen
Sample IT admin screen


Secure VPN connection

The biggest concern with remote connecting to a machine deals with the security of the connection and what is required in order to connect.

KEB’s CONNECT servers authenticate a user running Combivis CONNECT software and the C6 Router and facilitate a handshake between the two. Once the two devices are authenticated, a direct and secure encrypted VPN connection is established between the two.

Remote machine connection with CONNECT Architecture
CONNECT Architecture

Secondly, digital inputs are available on the C6 Router which can be used as a hardware input to enable data transmission. So a machine does not need to be left online indefinitely.

A common procedure is for someone on-site to turn a key switch or provide a physical input which then allows the Router connection. Outputs on the Router are available which can be monitored to know when active connections are made.

local enable
Digital inputs allow local enabling through the hardware

Further, security parameters can be defined in KEB’s CONNECT software. Users and groups can be created which define permission levels and timeouts. Individual users create unique passwords which are not shared.

But don’t take our word for it. In 2019, KEB was audited by ProtectEM, an independent company that specializes in industrial cybersecurity. The Router and, more importantly, KEB’s CONNECT server infrastructure and software were evaluated and found secure according to the IEC 62443 specification.

KEB security certificate
KEB VPN Router/CONNECT Security certificate


Reliable Connections

The initial authentication sequence is handled by KEB’s CONNECT servers. There are multiple servers located around the world to ensure reliability and maximum uptime.

Once a VPN connection is established, the communication between the user and the Router is direct and does not pass through a 3rd party server. Another key component regarding security.


Industrial Design

An important distinction is that the KEB C6 VPN Router is an industrial product, not a commercial one. The Router has a stainless steel enclosure and is designed to operate on 24VDC (9-36VDC). It is only 36mm wide and can either be wall or DIN rail mounted. The router contains no fans or moving parts and utilizes solid state memory.

The standard Router is capable of operation from 0°C … +50°C.


Supports Serial and Ethernet-based connections

The C6 Router has both Serial and Ethernet interfaces which facilitate connections to PLCs, VFDs or HMIs. The advantage is that one KEB device can connect to a number of different field devices.

The advantage for some of our customers is that one KEB device could be used as a generic service tool and cover a wide range of scenarios.

Industrial VPN serial
The C6 Router has both Ethernet and Serial interfaces


Cellular Router option

What if the machine or control is in a remote location? If there is cellular service, the answer is KEB’s C6 Router M-version. The M-version has a mini-SIM slot to be used with GSM networks – 2G/3G/3G+ networks are supported. A 4G version is also available.

One advantage of GSM is that networks are available worldwide and data can be pre-paid or through a subscription.

wind farm
The C6 Router cellular version can be used for remote installations – like a wind turbine

Various antenna lengths are offered which allows the antenna to be placed on the outside of the enclosure. Additionally, data transfer can be initiated via an SMS text so the system does not need to be online all the time. This reduces data usage and the fees that go along with it.


Unlimited Data Usage

Some competing VPN router products charge the user for data usage. So while the upfront cost is relatively low, the lifetime cost of the router solution is considerably more. Or, the user runs into data usage limitations which affect how the use or implement the product.

KEB does not limit, throttle, or charge for data usage. This is one of the points where we are different.

Combivis HMI – Advanced HMI functionality

KEB’s optional Combivis HMI provides advanced Router functionality. Machine data can be sampled and archived. This could help with usage information and preventative maintenance scheduling. It is also possible to monitor parameters and output them to a graphical interface programmed in Combivis HMI Studio. A machine dashboard could then be viewed through the “Web Client”.

Additionally, special alarm conditions can be set up to trigger SMS or email notifications.

Finally, a number of communication drivers are supported which allows for the connection with 3rd party systems. A small sampling of available drivers includes (full list here):

  • KEB PLC Handler (Ethernet)
  • KEB DIN66019II (Serial)
  • Rockwell DF1 and Data Highway
  • Rockwell Ethernet IP
  • Beckhoff TwinCAT (ADS Protocol)
  • CANOpen Master
  • CANOpen Slave
  • GE Fanuc
  • Modbus RTU Master/Slave
  • Modbus TCP IP
  • Omron Host Link
  • Siemns S5 CPU, DK3864R
  • Siemens S7 200 PPI, 300/400 MPI
  • Siemens S7 CP 300/400/1200

 

If you’d like to learn more about KEB control and automation solutions, you can reach us using the form below.

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