New FDT/OPC UA Features Focused on Industrie 4.0

April 25, 2017

Technology enhancements make device-specific information from DTMs available via FDT/OPC UA information model

The FDT Group, an independent, international, not-for-profit industry association supporting FDT® Technology, today announced new features in its standard supporting integration of devices into the Industrie 4.0 framework. Unveiled at HANNOVER MESSE 2017 in Hannover, Germany, the technology enhancements leverage the OPC Unified Architecture (UA) to make device-specific information from Device Type Managers™ (DTMs™) available via the FDT/OPC Unified Architecture (UA) information model.

Since 2014, the FDT Group and OPC Foundation have worked together to provide greater access to critical information throughout the industrial enterprise. The FDT standard is the hub of data from tens of millions of DTM-enabled devices installed in the field, while the OPC UA standard provides an infrastructure to make this information available to thousands of other applications and platforms.

With the FDT/OPC UA annex for information modeling, intended for implementation by automation system manufacturers in FDT/FRAMEs™ embedded in engineering systems, distributed control systems (DCSs), asset management systems and other applications, the FDT Group and OPC Foundation have taken an important step forward towards helping end users in the factory, hybrid and process automation markets realize the promise of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industrie 4.0 for the ”Connected World.”

FDT Group’s new OPC UA features are focused on integration of intelligent devices as part of an overall IIoT/Industrie 4.0 strategy. They include:

  • Providing device-specific information such as network configurations, device parameters, and device-related documents (e.g., references to fieldbus profile definitions and other semantic information) from DTMs within the German Reference Architectural Model RAMI 4.0 for use in integrating field devices.
  • Representing different partial models of a device instance as functional groups, which may share the same data. This allows for efficient reuse of data and avoids unnecessary overhead such as duplication. The FDT/OPC UA demonstration at HANNOVER MESSE 2017 highlights how data for different partial models according to Industrie 4.0 may be provided based on the latest FDT/DTMs™.

According to FDT Group Managing Director Glenn Schulz, his organization’s collaboration with the OPC Foundation continues to advance solutions for enterprise-wide data access across the industrial sector. “The industrial Internet is ushering in an era of connected industrial ecosystems,” Schulz said. “Our efforts in support of Industrie 4.0 are focused on automation, interoperability, seamless exchange of data, and contemporary manufacturing technologies to realize the vision of a smart plant or factory.”

Lifecycle management is at the heart of all FDT-compliant applications, and the FDT/OPC UA annex, released in November 2016, eases the exchange of critical information throughout the industrial automation ecosystem. By incorporating this specification, FDT/FRAME-enabled control solutions can be configured as an OPC UA server.  The client can request a secure connection with the server and access topology, health, and other data.

Standard integration of information provided by FDT/DTMs into the OPC UA information model is essential for device diagnostics, configuration and remote asset management, as well for integration with manufacturing execution systems (MES). The FDT/OPC UA information model enhances the management of networks and devices, helping to optimize the enterprise by giving access to data without the need for protocol-specific handling and providing support for a wide range of devices.

FDT provides network/device configuration and access to devices, whereas OPC UA provides a uniform interface for many different client applications. The combined FDT/OPC UA approach enables unification of asset management for Industrie 4.0 applications, supporting Industrie 4.0 devices as well as legacy Industrie 3.0 networks and devices.

The FDT standard is represented in the RAMI 4.0 solution, and with the FDT/OPC UA annex, sensor-to-cloud, enterprise-wide connectivity is granted with seamless data communications.

About FDT Group AISBL

The FDT Group AISBL is an international non-profit corporation consisting of leading worldwide member companies active in industrial automation and manufacturing. The major purpose of the FDT Group is to provide an open standard for enterprise-wide network and asset integration, innovating the way automation architectures connect and communicate sensor to cloud for the process, hybrid and factory automation markets. FDT Technology benefits both manufacturers and end users, with advancements such as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industrie 4.0 delivered out-of-the-box – enabling modernized asset integration and access to performance data for visualizing crucial operational problems. Around the world, end users, manufacturers, universities, and research organizations are working together to develop the technology; provide development tools, support, and training; coordinate field trials and demonstrations; and enable product interoperability.


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