Modern Intelligent Device Management with IT/OT Data-driven Operations

November 7, 2022

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) connectivity dominates the industrial automation workplace, enabling modern ways to manage, monitor and maintain intelligent devices, networks and processes with diagnostic rich information.

As you look to the future, is your migration path aligned with the need for actionable data with accessibility across the enterprise?

Looking at next-generation system environments, it’s important to preserve your current install-base and future-proof the application. This approach allows you to integrate newer, smarter instrumentation and support new service-oriented maintenance business models for both IT and OT operations improving reliability with real-time production visibility.

Traditional FDT Use Cases Form Foundation

Industry-driven feedback has been the basis for the growth of FDT technology since the release FDT version 1.2 (in 2001) that introduced the original software-based FDT Desktop (FDT/FRAME) configuration environment and DTM (smart device driver). The solution provides end users with a standardized device management environment in an industrial control system. The solution helps solve use cases focused on managing the entire product lifecycle of all connected assets – configuration, commissioning, monitoring, diagnosis, parameterization, replacement in one common environment enabling an effective asset management strategy.

From the earliest days, FDT’s focus delivering ‘data consistency’ provides users with uniform intelligent device diagnostic insights for alerts, status information (NE107), device-specific performance and process information. Using Comm DTMs to standardize the communication channel to the operations of the mapped IT/OT network or protocol, FDT offers end to end data transparency independent of the topology of protocols (nested communications) all the way to the field-level to any vendors device/type/representation (DD, EDD, FDI, DTM, IODD, ESD, GSD, etc.) in process, hybrid and discrete applications.

FDT’s open, scalable and adaptable architecture simplifies device management and maximizes operator productivity by providing a unified way to integrate and work with all connected devices for easier training and handling of all assets in different situations – in the vendor tool, in the system environment, and in the service tool. It also consistently stores the data of all devices streamlining device management.

What A Modern FDT Unified Environment Can Do For IT and OT Teams

The latest version of the standard, FDT Unified Environment (FDT UE), based on FDT3, has evolved to a distributed FDT Server (also an OPC UA server and web server) solution that delivers OT data consistency to IT applications supporting service-oriented device management, maintenance and data analytic business models.


FDT Server – IIoT distributed control environment for complete device management and IT/OT data-centric operations

Deployable in the cloud, at the edge or on-premise, the new FDT Server supports traditional FDT intelligent device management use case business benefits in a modern browser-based interface environment. Additionally, the solution natively supports OPC UA unifying field-level data via information modeling, eliminating information silos allowing IT/OT data to reach decision-makers throughout the enterprise.

Now, critical data is reachable via any authenticated FDT, OPC UA or mobile/app client. This opens the door to manufacturer service maintenance support.

The solution streamlines project engineering and gives users a complete data-centric asset management solution, with access to all advanced real-time diagnostic insights. This improves predictive maintenance strategies and reduces unplanned downtime.

With the new FDT Server architecture, expect new levels of achieving data consistency from your current install-base while scaling your IIoT application. Since device data is now centrally stored for the whole device lifecycle, from initial commissioning to dismantling, system operators or service employees can use the central server to execute device service operations via a mobile device so all changes to the device can be tracked in a central audit trail. These means that software updates on a DCS, PLC or other engineering applications are eliminated as the solution is web-based and accessible via thin clients.

IT/OT Data Access and Mobility

The IIoT provides remote access to connected machines and devices to enable transformative operational and process performance improvements. These improvements in plant reliability deliver value to the bottom line – and you can accomplish this with actionable information from intelligent devices that provide the analytics needed to avoid unscheduled shutdowns.

Getting there can require a culture shift to understand and use the diagnostic information from intelligent devices and a workforce ready to change from analog to digital practices. This shift can provide a competitive advantage as employees and decision-makers take advantage of information access, analytics and visualization throughout the enterprise. Real-time collaboration practices can help plants move forward with reliability improvements and even improve plant safety, quality and compliance.

Risk Avoidance

Plant and reliability improvements in operations and performance are driving the need to connect and use real-time information from installed intelligent assets. Leveraging existing assets – devices, systems and workforce – to become part of the IIoT can be a low-risk, high-return investment.

The key is to get the right information to the right people at the right time in actionable format so that information can be used to avoid potential problems. Big Data and IoT are made possible by retrieving information from intelligent devices, and now you have many options to integrate smart assets with smart solutions, including asset management, smart or configurable I/O and internet protocols.
Deploying an FDT data-centric integration environment future proofs your application with access to the aging infrastructure.

Next Steps

The IIoT offers endless productivity improvements in automation, operations information, and advanced analytics through smart devices and systems that link machines through open platforms and enable them to think, learn and react in real-time.

  • Take inventory of your intelligent devices and talk with your device suppliers to get FDT Device Type Managers (DTMs).
  • Check to see if your system is FDT-enabled. If it is, pick a device and test out a DTM to see what you are missing.
  • Talk to your device supplier about an FDT solution if you are not yet FDT-enabled. There are single-user standalone configuration and device management software options like PACTware (FDT Desktop solution) available for free. FDT is scalable and flexible with the option to integrate at your pace. PACTware 6.1 offers complete backward compatibility to all DTM generations (FDT3, FDT2 and FDT1.2) and other device representations.

New to FDT?

FDT is a globally adopted standard (IEC 62453, ISA/ANSI 103 and GB-T 29618-2017) supported by all major system and device vendors in the industry who deploy FDT in their system and device offerings. FDT is known as the de facto integration standard with millions of device DTMs deployed and serviced by FDT hosting environments (engineering application, automation, or asset management). Today, FDT users experience a true unified environment for intelligent device and lifecycle management to all connected assets and data-driven maintenance solutions.

Looking to simplify your IIoT migration path?

Contact your integrator, system or device suppliers and specify FDT (3.0) UE (FDT Server and WebUI DTMs), for brownfield or greenfield applications that are migrating to IIoT architectures. New FDTUE-enabled applications benefit from service-oriented device management, maintenance and data analytics. The standardized solution natively supports IT/OT data-driven operations, and mobility via browsers, mobile devices and apps. The FDT Server is scalable to deploy in the cloud, on-premise or at the edge.

Interested in an a FDT UE demo? Contact the FDT Group at [email protected] to schedule a demo today! We look forward to hearing from you.

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