4ZeroBox is the hardware component of TOI’s 4ZeroPlatform, a plug-and-play data gathering, processing and reporting system designed to optimise Industry 4.0 smart manufacturing and factory-maintenance processes.
When it comes the IIoT, manufacturers typically need to capture and process data from new and old machines produced by different vendors, while machine developers and system integrators aim to differentiate their designs with diverse IoT communications functionality. Complex interfacing and data management issues have to be overcome to unlock advantages such as full process visibility, lower maintenance costs, and effective integration with ERP (enterprise resource planning) and MES (manufacturing execution systems) software.
4ZeroBox is a versatile modular IIoT unit that can be installed into both legacy and modern industrial equipment, allowing rapid integration with sensors, actuators and cloud services.
Based on a 2.4GHz Espressif Systems ESP32 microcontroller with 4Mb of flash memory, it comes in a DIN-rail mountable case with industrial-grade sensor channels and support for WiFi, Bluetooth, Ethernet, LoRa, CAN, RS485, RS232, SD card, JTAG, I2C and SPI. It can be extended using any of hundreds of MikroElektronika click boards via two onboard MikroBus sockets.
The 4ZeroBox includes a Zerynth Virtual Machine premium licence, so it can be programmed in Python or hybrid C/Python. Zerynth includes a compiler, debugger and editor, as well as tutorials and example projects for easy learning.
Also included with 4ZeroBox is a one-year subscription to TOI’s 4ZeroManager, a cloud-based or on-premises device management service for organising, monitoring and remotely updating connected devices at scale. 4ZeroManager includes a web interface to control connected devices and customise data forwarding to other services such as ERP and MES.
4ZeroBox is expected to find applications in a wide variety of industrial contexts, from production plants to industrial refrigeration, waste management, precision agriculture, transportation and logistics, energy and utilities, retail, and smart homes and buildings.