FDT Group Releases Technology Annex for OPC UA

November 23, 2016

Latest development enables sensor-to-cloud, enterprise-wide interoperability in industrial automation

The FDT Group, an independent, international, not-for-profit industry association and originator of the well-established FDT® Technology, today announced the release of an annex to the FDT standard for the OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA), which will enable sensor-to-cloud, enterprise-wide connectivity in industrial control systems used in the process, hybrid and factory automation markets.

The announcement was made during a press conference at the SPS IPC Drives exhibition in Nuremberg, Germany. SPS IPC Drives is Europe’s leading event for electric automation.

Since 2011, the FDT Group and OPC Foundation have worked together on a technology initiative to provide greater access to critical information throughout the industrial enterprise. A joint technology project has included collaboration on off-the-shelf interoperability to help plants, factories and other industrial facilities gain a higher return on their use of open standards.

The FDT standard is the hub of critical information from tens of millions of FDT/DTM™-enabled devices installed in the field, while the OPC UA standard provides a rich infrastructure to make this information available to thousands of other applications and platforms. Together, the two solutions allow sensor, network and topology information to permeate the enterprise, including mobile devices, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, the cloud, and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industrie 4.0.

The FDT/OPC UA annex is intended for implementation by automation system manufacturers in FDT Frame Applications (FDT/FRAMEs™). System suppliers with an FDT/FRAME embedded in their distributed control system (DCS), asset management system, programmable logic controller (PLC) or other system have the ability to include an OPC UA server in an application accessible from any OPC UA client application.

Glenn Schulz, managing director of the FDT Group, commented, “With release of the FDT/OPC UA annex, the FDT Group has taken an important step forward towards helping industrial end users realize the promise of IIoT and Industrie 4.0. The FDT standard is represented as the device integration solution in the German Reference Architecture Model RAMI 4.0, and with release of the FDT/OPC annex, sensor-to-cloud, enterprise-wide connectivity is granted with seamless data communications.

Schulz added, “Our organization seeks to establish a fully enabled IIoT solution supporting mobility, on-the-wire security, and comprehensive interoperability. This solution is also platform-independent and deployable in standalone, client/server or cloud architectures.”

OPC Foundation President and Executive Director Tom Burke said, “We are pleased with the completion of the OPC UA annex for FDT Technology. It is an important milestone for standard integration of information provided by Device Type Managers™ into the OPC UA information model – a key capability for device diagnostics, configuration and remote asset management, as well for integration with manufacturing execution systems.”

The combined FDT/OPC standards create a single system infrastructure that standardizes the connection of industrial networks, automation systems and devices. Remote access to connected machines, production units and devices drives performance improvements. OPC provides a uniform interface for many different client applications, whereas FDT provides network/device configuration and access to devices. This approach enables unification of system engineering, configuration and diagnosis in Industrie 4.0, and supports Industrie 4.0 devices, but is also able to build a bridge to Industrie 3.0 networks and devices.

Most recently, work has been undertaken to integrate the FDT/OPC collaboration results into a developer tool known as FDT/FRAME Common Components. Use of the Common Components enables automation suppliers to immediately begin developing FDT-enabled solutions while maintaining backwards compatibility to previous versions of the standard. Implementing the FDT/FRAME Common Components provides for a quicker product development time and allows suppliers to focus on the value-added features of their own product rather than on new software code.

For more information, please visit the FDT Group website.

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.

FDT® is a registered trademark, and Device Type Manager™ and DTM™ are trademarks of the FDT Group AISBL. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.


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