Editorial: FITS™ IIoT Ready Solutions for Modernized Automation Manufacturing

May 5, 2019

I continue to be amazed with the progress and collaboration efforts from our team of experts as we near the homestretch for deployment of our transformative FDT IIoT Server (FITS™) platform, modernized Integration Development Environment (IDE) and test tool at the end of this year.  The simultaneous release of the FITS specification alongside development tools is unique to standards-based organizations and will allow the automation community to jump start development of platform independent solutions for FITS DTMs, FITS Servers, and clients to meet market demands.  As we enter our second and final membership review cycle of the specification where members gain the advantage of reviewing and providing comments, it’s remarkable to think about FDT’s pivotal position entering as the first device integration standard for IIoT.  My thanks to the many teams of industry experts that are making this project a success – our Architecture and Specification Team, Security Team, Annex Teams, the Style Guide Team and the Change Control Boards, as they have led the way in developing this innovative, agile, Industry 4.0 solution.

The FITS solution is a solid framework based off industry-driven feedback.  News of our emerging FITS Server has drawn significant attention from the automation community for its platform independent, information-driven business model approach as well as its’ ability to be deployed on a local server, within a control platform, on the edge, or in the cloud. One market-driven requirement included engineering a specification compliant, platform independent FITS Server that will also be available at the end of this year, coincident with the release of the FITS standard. Vendors can deploy this Server ‘as is’ or can wrap value-add/custom features and services around the Server to meet their unique marketplace requirements. Throughout the remainder of the year, we will be giving key industry conference demonstrations of this Server including its integrated OPC UA server that makes all intelligent device data available to authorized higher level systems. It is amazing that this FDT engineered component can seamlessly scale from a small Linux embedded system up to a full cloud-based server-farm powerhouse.

While those familiar with the FDT standard have long seen desktop and client/server implementations of the FDT standard, there is a certain thrill to seeing the complete device management interface on a tablet’s web browser. With zero installation on the tablet, this is a complete game changer for work flow management. Now complete access to the device, its manuals and documentation, configuration wizards, diagnostic aids, and calibration management are all available on a lightweight, long battery life platform that is broadly available from a wide variety of sources. Pick your tablet brand/operating system – the FITS standard is fully functional with all major web browsers.

While many of our member companies have been involved in the development and prototyping of the FITS standard, we will be hosting an official FITS developer seminar for FDT members on October 8-9 this year in Stuttgart, Germany. Here developers, system architects, and product managers will get a deep dive session into the new standard and its’ eco system including hands on development with the new FITS developer tools. This is an event that FDT members will not want to miss.

In closing, I am pleased to announce that our Executive Committee and Board of Directors recently received approval from our General Assembly for a new pricing model for our various developer tools and components that the FDT Group makes available in support of the FDT standard. This new model dramatically lowers the cost of development tools for members and even makes a very attractive “try before you buy” option available to vendors considering developing FDT compliant products. Watch our website (www.fdtgroup.org) for more details on this value acceleration initiative.

Lee Lane, FDT Chairman of the Board

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