FDT Chairman – Nov. Editorial: Expanded R&D Efforts focused on interoperability, security and mobility
Lee Lane, Chairman of Board of Directors, FDT Group
This issue of Device Integration Strategies welcomes you to the first public release of the modernized face of FDT® featuring a modular revision of the logo along with an enhanced website that sets the stage for FDT’s vision for the new era of automation. Our new logo is a nod to our rich heritage but now projects our passion and determination to move forward into a leadership role in IIoT / Industrie 4.0.
When our Board of Directors approved the new look and feel of the FDT Group, it backed the strategic direction with the approval of our largest ever R&D funding tranche for a single year focused on enabling a FDT/IIoT architecture supporting mobility, on-the-wire security, and comprehensive interoperability through an ecosystem of automation vendors providing tomorrow’s new adaptive manufacturing assets. The entire organization of nearly 200 volunteers is now aligning itself to this ambitious initiative.
Our modernized image accurately depicts the role we envision for the FDT platform of the future. With hundreds of thousands of installed FDT/FRAMES™ (both stand-alone and embedded in major system supplier engineering systems) and tens of millions of FDT/DTM™ enabled devices in the current install base, FDT is the established standard for interoperability of intelligent devices. Additional, the adaptive backbone architecture supporting all common communication networks and many proprietary protocols allows the comprehensive integration model for both the process and factory market. It provides the flexibility needed in a single platform to seamlessly tunnel through a myriad of networks to transparently communicate with the end device. This feature is one of the key architectural roles that FDT plays in enabling the next generation of industry.
Later this month, watch for the release of several updated annexes (networks) that will support the latest version of the FDT standard. Annexes include the release of the ODVA Common Industrial Protocol (CIP) annex, network adaptations of ODVA’s media-independent CIP protocol including EtherNet/IP™, DeviceNet™, CompoNet™ and ControlNet.™ These updated annexes to the latest standard will allow new Frame Applications the advantage of network integration in stand-alone device management tools and other engineering systems.
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. We are thrilled to publicly release the FDT/OPC UA annex. It will expand the FDT platform capability with enterprise wide access to this business intelligence. Our collaboration with the OPC Foundation to develop this off the shelf OPC UA capability within the Frame Application has been a model of industry cooperation. My thanks to Mr. Tom Burke of the OPC Foundation and our Managing Director, Glenn Schulz for providing the executive sponsorship to drive this partnership to a successful conclusion.
As significant as the OPC UA pairing is to the FDT platform, we are not stopping there. The FDT platform will now be further expanded to include support for mobile devices. This will include operating system agnostic support for standard browsers, fit for purpose apps, and general web services for any potential expansion. The prototyping for this phase of developments will begin in January.
To facilitate our commitment to standardize sensor to cloud integration, the new FDT architecture will be deployable as a cloud, fog, local server, or standalone platform allowing it to scale to suit the needs of a single facility for the entire enterprise. We will be working with the various IIoT initiatives around the world to ensure that our new architecture supports their emerging requirements. Our commercial material will refer to this new platform as FITS™ – an initialism for the FDT Industrial Internet of Things Server.
With our mission set , we welcome you to visit us at the SPS IPC Drives Exhibition, Nov. 22-26, 2016; Hall 2, Booth 550 where we will be showcasing our new look and latest technology development for the entire industrial automation marketplace. We will be demonstrating complete interoperability with a FDT integrated hybrid application inclusive of multiple protocols, vendors and devices simulating a brewing and bottling application using control systems and components commonly found in a brewery.
We will also be demonstrating FDT/OPC UA device modeling, mobility and much more. Additionally, we will present our future strategy with a press conference at 11:30 on Nov. 23rd. Members of the FDT Group board, OPC Foundation President and Executive Director Thomas Burke, and ODVA President and Executive Director Katherine Voss will be there for exciting new announcements.
I invite other companies and organizations that are interested in participating in this fast-paced industry collaboration to join the FDT Group and bring your unique industry perspective and requirements to the table. In an open standards body, your scope of influence can range from technical committee participation to setting and driving the strategy at the Board level.
In closing, allow me to bid a fond farewell to our long time office manager, Katrien Peeters. In many ways, Katrien was the pulse of the FDT Group as she supported all facets of the FDT Group business operations over the past 10 years. I wish Katrien the best with her expanding family and future business ventures. We will announce a replacement in the near future. Meanwhile, please contact our Managing Director, Glenn Schulz, for any of your business office support needs.