Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) strategies offer endless productivity improvements through smart devices and systems that link machines through open platforms and enable them to think, learn and react in real-time.
That’s great news for end users, system and device suppliers looking for ways to increase productivity, more easily and quickly innovate, and unlock new opportunities for revenue.
As bigger data sets are aggregated, the challenge for many is contextualizing the data to make it actionable and accessible to all parts of the organization, maximizing efficiency and creating value.
To help companies reap the rewards of smart manufacturing, FDT Group has introduced the FDT Unified Environment (UE), also known as FDT 3.0, enabling a platform independent and data-centric Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) integration solution with a secure gateway to network/device data and health information. This embedded system and device software solution delivers a single user interface (UI) supporting field/skid to cloud integration, configuration and monitoring.
For end-users, system, and device suppliers, FDT 3.0 is the data interoperability standard for the secure information exchange while providing reliable configuration and visualization in industrial automation devices and systems independent of communication protocol, vendor, device/device type/representation, or information model, supporting all aspects of a control system lifecycle.
Standard Designed For Modern Industrial Markets
The key driver of FDT’s smart manufacturing functionality starts with its core technology component—Device Type Managers™ (DTMs™) running the new FDT 3.0 standard.
Globally adopted and internationally recognized by ISA 103, GB-T 29618-2017 and IEC 62453 organizations, tens of millions of DTM-enabled devices world-wide are serviced by FDT hosting environments, and all major control system and device vendors support FDT technology.
The FDT standard incorporates specific DTM types that empower a standardized way of communicating, automatically making device data and health information available via an OPC UA Server or Web Server embedded on the new FDT Server used in the FDT 3.0 architecture.
Intended for use with both simple and complex devices, the FDT DTM contains the application software that defines the parameters and capabilities included in each instrument. The DTM encapsulates all device-specific data, functions, and business rules such as the device structure, its communication capabilities, internal dependencies, and its human-machine interface (HMI) structure.
Use Cases Driving FDT UE Migration
While FDT standards 1.2 and 2 continue to be the de-facto industry standard for industrial device integration, DTMs delivering data to host systems via older standards can now take advantage of the Unified Environment of FDT 3.0 to address the challenges of IIoT and take advantage of:
- Open Interoperable IIoT Architectures – Enabling a future-proof FDT Server-based distributed architecture that is operating system, network, device/representation (DTM, DD, IODD, GSD, EDD, FDI, etc.), and vendor-independent
- Secure, Scalable, and Adaptable Platforms – Providing embedded end-to-end trusted interoperability supporting cloud, edge, on-premises, or enterprise-wide agile architectures
- Comprehensive Control and Configuration – Empowering a natively integrated OPC UA server for IT/OT data harmonization and IT/enterprise access along with a web server empowering OT/operations, mobility, and web-browser-based access supporting modern asset manufacturing practices
- Standardized Universal Device Integration – Delivering a unified collaborative engineering platform and ecosystem for Design, Operation, and Maintenance, of Process Automation (PA) and Factory Automation (FA) systems
Customer Driven Use Cases: Mobility, Security, DTM Repository
The flexible FDT Server architecture and robust FDT Desktop environment bridges the FDT install base with next-generation technology, creating an excellent starting point for new applications. Enhancements focus on:
- Enabling mobility strategies. Developers can write a DTM and then provide the same UI on a laptop, tablet, desktop, or phone—no matter the operating system. Since DTM UIs are portable and can also be displayed in browsers on phones and tablet devices, developers can create UIs that are completely responsive per the needs of different devices and screen sizes.
- Securing all layers of the architecture. FDT deploys a secure by design approach, including robust security at all points of ingress or egress in the architecture—from the DTM to the network/communication layer (if applicable) and across all related components.
- Repository eliminates device management headaches. When implementing an automation project, end-users won’t have to go searching for FDT/DTMs for their field devices. All certified DTMs will be located in the FDThub™ DTM repository and made available for automatic download and installation.
Backwards Compatibility and Phased Migration
Suppliers new to FDT or upgrading an existing product line will benefit from advancements that empower next-generation FDT UE solutions. This includes an open, secure, fully standardized, and data-centric integration ecosystem connecting legacy investments with cloud, on-premise, edge, and enterprise access.
The millions of DTMs using FDT 1.2 and FDT 2.0 have backwards compatibility so users can take advantage of new capabilities without changing devices. FDT 3.0 supports phased migration so users can migrate field devices when they are ready either through greenfield (new) or brownfield (migration of existing assets) specifications.
From a single-user desktop application for device integration, configuration, and monitoring to a multi-user distributed server application architecture, FDT UE enables modern remote operational lifecycle management and allows:
- Device vendors to offer predictive analysis and preventive maintenance, sell upfront analytics as a service, and be more proactive with a clear view of what’s happening in the operation.
- End users to deliver a better overall maintenance strategy and take advantage of mobility and standardized UI to configure all devices across any network, device or industry.
- System manufacturers looking for IT/OT convergence to benefit from a secure, scalable, and adaptable platform.
With FDT 3.0’s data-centric unified environment, every device vendor or service provider can utilize an edge gateway or cloud instance to push data from multiple facilities to a centralized location for enterprise monitoring and asset management.
System Side: The new FDT Server transforms asset management practices and business system integration for both the automation supplier and end-user communities in the process, hybrid and discrete manufacturing markets.
Common Components Toolkits. The vendor community can jump-start FDT development with a modernized Integrated Development Environment (IDE) to create next-generation, data-centric solutions, including compliant FDT Server, FDT Desktop, and FDT DTM common components.
Companies that use Common Components will see reduced cost and effort for DTM development and certification. Common Components include thousands of lines of prewritten and tested code that ensure DTM base code complies with the FDT standard. This robust toolkit frees DTM developers from writing and debugging their code to focus on enhancing their products with advanced features. Common Components Help Files provide step-by-step instructions for optimizing DTM development activities.
Scalability Benefits End Users, System and Device Suppliers
The FDT scalable solution allows users to take control of critical operational data and obtain the information needed from different networks and devices—regardless of protocol.
The new FDT Server provides end-users with flexible options on how to distribute their data within the enterprise with pre-wired OPC UA and the embedded Universal Information Model and Web servers. The FDT Server environment can scale from a small, low-cost Linux box running a remote OEM skid asset management environment, up to a multi-facility, enterprise-wide, cloud-based installation.
Interested in next-generation smart manufacturing and mobility? A universal device management solution for line extensions, retrofits or new projects is as easy as indicating FDT 3.0 in the design specification. All FDT toolkits are available now: https://www.fdtgroup.org/development/