FDT and OPC Foundation Unify IT/OT Visualization with New Universal Device Information (DI) Model

June 9, 2021

FDT OPC UA companion specification empowers FDT data centric IIoT platform enabling uniform IT/OT data access to the enterprise

FDT Group™, an independent, international, not-for-profit industry association supporting the evolution of FDT® technology, today announced that in cooperation with the OPC Foundation it has developed an update to the FDT OPC Unified Architecture (UA) companion specification merging the IT and OT domains within a new server-level Universal Device Information (DI) Model. The companion specification is now under member review with both associations for 90 days.

Since 2011, FDT Group and OPC Foundation have collaborated in support of a unified DI model to promote device- and network-level data access in a uniform way for higher-level enterprise applications. The two organizations first announced the release of their joint DI model companion specification in 2016 based on the FDT 2.0 Client/Server architecture. However, to meet the demands of next-generation, cloud-based computing applications, the companion specification has been updated to support digital transformation use cases matching the strengths of the FDT 3.0 IIoT Server platform, which unifies the availability, transport and visualization of data for business and operational stakeholders in the process, hybrid and discrete automation markets. It is a key technology development unifying data for both IT and OT while enabling the transmission of uniform, real-time process, network, and device information for any OPC UA Client in the enterprise.

“The new FDT OPC UA server-level universal DI model further unifies FDT’s strength as the standardized, data-centric IIoT platform serving uniform IT/OT device-data to the enterprise,” said Glenn Schulz, FDT Group managing director. “With the launch of the FDT 3.0 Server architecture natively integrated with an OPC UA Server, end users in the process, hybrid and discrete automation markets can freely mix and match any device with any device information model, from any vendor, and communicate on any network while the FDT Server transparently unifies all the device information and pushes the data to the enterprise for any OPC UA Client in real-time. This is an important win for the industry.”

Launching mid-year after approval by both FDT Group and OPC Foundation memberships, the new companion specification will provide the only protocol-agnostic, server-level device information model for both process and discrete applications. With the built-in, “pre-wired” OPC UA Server, the FDT Server environment seamlessly allows access to all device and network information and metadata via any authenticated OPC UA Client or application. Standard OPC UA browsing techniques are used to expose this information so that authorized OPC UA Clients can connect to the FDT Server to browse, collect and take action on the data as needed. Optional support for a Publish-Subscribe environment allows for efficient, real-time data monitoring and exchange.

Plant and factory operators require proven asset management monitoring solutions. Visualization capabilities with the Universal DI Model are closely aligned with the requirements of major end user associations and their recommendations for an open architecture to make production data easily and securely usable for plant and asset monitoring and optimization.

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