Leaf in the Wild: Powering Smart Factory IoT with MongoDB

Jason Ma

#Customer Stories

BEET Analytics OEMs MongoDB for its Envision manufacturing IOT platform. MongoDB helps Envision deliver 1-2 orders of magnitude better performance than SQL Server, resulting in increased manufacturing throughput and reduced costs

Leaf in the Wild posts highlight real world MongoDB deployments. Read other stories about how companies are using MongoDB for their mission-critical projects.

BEET Analytics Technology creates solutions to help the manufacturing industry transition to smart IOT factories for the next evolution of manufacturing. BEET’s Process Visibility System, Envision, makes the assembly line machine process visible and measurable down to every motion and event. Built on MongoDB, Envision is able to precisely analyze telemetry data streamed from sensors on the production line to help improve the manufacturing process.

At MongoDB World 2016, BEET Analytics was a recipient of a MongoDB Innovation Award, which recognizes organizations and individuals that took a giant idea and made a tangible impact on the world.

I had the opportunity to sit down with Girish Rao, Director of Core Development, to discuss how BEET Analytics harnesses MongoDB to power its Envision platform.

Can you tell us a little bit about BEET Analytics?

Founded in June 2011, BEET Analytics Technology is a smart manufacturing solution provider. We provide a Process Visibility System (PVS) built upon Envision, the software created by BEET. Envision monitors the automated assembly line for any potential issues in throughput, performance, and availability –- and alerts users about possible breakdowns before they occur. For our customers, one minute of lost production time can result in a significant loss of revenue, sothus we collect and monitor the vital details of an automated assembly line. This provides predictive analytics and insights that avoid unplanned downtime and help sustain higher manufacturing throughput.

Why did you decide to OEM MongoDB?

When we started using MongoDB about 4 years ago, it was not as well known as it is now – at least not in the manufacturing industry. Our strategy was to build a complete product with MongoDB embedded within our system. We could then bring our complete system, deploy it in the plant, and have it run out of the box. This helped minimize the burden on our customer plant’s IT department to manage multiple software and hardware products. This model has worked well for us to introduce our product into several customer plants. Not only have we been able to provide a seamless customer experience, but MongoDB’s expertise both in development and production has helped us to accelerate our own product development. Additionally, co-marketing activities that promote our joint solution have been extremely beneficial to us.

How does BEET Analytics Use MongoDB today?

The Envision platform consists of multiple data collectors, which are PC based devices that are deployed close to the assembly line and stream data from the Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC). The PLCs (0.05 - 0.08 second scan cycle) continuously monitor the “motion” of hundreds of moving parts in the manufacturing facility. Each “motion” is captured by data collectors and stored in MongoDB. The daily transactional data for an assembly line creates about 1-3 million MongoDB documents per day, and we typically keep between 3-6 months worth of data, which comes out to be about 500 million documents.

Can you describe your MongoDB deployment and how it’s configured?

Each data collector on the assembly line runs its own standalone MongoDB instance. For a medium sized assembly line, we will typically have 1-2 data collectors, while a larger assembly line can have 4-6 data collectors. The data collectors transfer the data through a web service up to a central repository that is backed by a MongoDB replica set and where the Envision application server runs. The central MongoDB replica set consists of a primary node, running Linux, and two secondaries that run Windows. We use Windows as a secondary because we also run Internet Information Services (IIS) for our application. This architecture is cost effective for us. In the future, we will probably run both the primary and secondary on Linux. We have failed over a few times to the secondary without any application downtime. Users interact with the application server through a browser to visualize the “heartbeat” of the entire manufacturing process. We use the MongoDB aggregation and map reduce framework to aggregate the data and create analytics reporting.

Were you using something different before MongoDB?

Our first version of the Envision platform was developed about 6 years ago using a Microsoft SQL Server database. SQL Server was okay up to a certain point, but we couldn’t scale up without using very expensive hardware. Our primary requirement was to support the throughput that our system needed without resorting to massive server arrays. In our internal benchmarks, MongoDB had 1-2 orders of magnitude better performance than SQL Server for the same hardware. At that point, we decided to build the solution using MongoDB.

Are there specific tools you use to manage your MongoDB deployment?

We currently use Ops Manager internally for development servers, and are looking to implement Ops Manager in production. Ops Manager has been extremely useful in helping us automate our deployment of MongoDB and ensuring we follow MongoDB best practices. It’s also invaluable that Ops Manager provides visibility into key metrics, so we are able to diagnose any potential problems before they happen.

Any best practices of deploying MongoDB that you can share with the community that you think is pertinent?

Understanding your dataset is a critical component. As we understood our dataset better, we were able to size the hardware more appropriately. Another important practice is indexing. Make sure you have index coverage for most of the queries to avoid full collection scans. MongoDB offers an extensive range of secondary indexes that you typically don’t get in a NoSQL database. Capped collections work really well for log type data that does not need to be saved for a long period of time. Finally, use a replica set to help you with performance, always-on availability, and scalability.

How are you measuring the impact of MongoDB?

MongoDB has allowed BEET to reduce the overall infrastructure cost and provide better value to customers. From a development perspective, MongoDB’s flexible data model with dynamic schema has allowed us to make application changes faster, and rapidly add new features to our product to maintain competitive advantage and better serve our customers.

What advice would you give for someone using MongoDB for their project?

MongoDB has best practices guides and whitepapers that are really helpful to ensure you follow the right guidelines. Also, we have been using Ops Manager in our development environment and it has been a huge advantage to troubleshoot any performance or setup issues. This is something we plan to implement in production and recommend other users to do as well.

Girish, thank you so much for taking the time to share your experiences with the MongoDB community.

Harness MongoDB for its IoT Solutions