Things have been quiet on the OPC/UA and TSN front for about a year. I wrote a preliminary white paper a couple of years ago (link on my blog to download) based on a proposal brought by a number of German companies to OPC almost without warning. Since then, the group has succeeded in getting an official working group within OPC Foundation. But some companies have dropped interest in the project and others are notorious for lending public support while dragging their feet on adoption.
This press release from Moxa, a manufacturer of Ethernet infrastructure for industrial applications notes it is now supporting the Open Platform Communications Foundation’s (OPC’s new name, I guess) United Architecture Field Level Communications (OPC UA FLC) initiative. It says it will “lend its considerable expertise to the development of a unified infrastructure for Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) technologies.”
Moxa says that the aim is to build an open, standards-based communication solution for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) by extending the OPC UA machine-to-machine communication protocol from sensors in the field to IT systems or the cloud. Adopting one unified network infrastructure will provide vendors with independent end-to-end interoperability of their field level devices, such as sensors, actuators, controllers and cloud addresses, and enabling bilateral IIoT data communications between the factory floor and the cloud. With TSN as its foundation, the OPC UA FLC initiative meets emerging IIoT requirements for deterministic networking and real time communications over high-bandwidth, low-latency networks.
“We are proud to be part of this new initiative of the OPC Foundation. It is the first-ever joint undertaking by the leading players in the automation industry under the auspices of the OPC Foundation to build TSN technologies for future industrial automation systems based on a truly unified infrastructure,” said Andy Cheng, President of the Strategic Business Unit at Moxa. “Moxa has committed to collaborating with customers and key industry players to drive innovation, industry standards, proof of concepts, testbeds, and the successful implementation of advanced TSN technologies.”
“Moxa’s valuable knowledge and great portfolio of industrial switches for the vast OPC UA TSN ecosystem, covering all the way from sensors to the cloud, are very helpful for our market to realize a truly unified infrastructure for future automation networking,” said Stefan Schönegger, Vice President of Product Strategy & Innovation at B&R Industrial Automation, a fellow member of Moxa’s on the FLC Steering Committee.
Companies on the FLC Steering Committee include ABB, Beckhoff, Bosch Rexroth, B&R Industrial Automation, Cisco, Hilscher, Hirschmann, Huawei, Intel, Kalycito, KUKA, Mitsubishi Electric, Molex, Omron, Phoenix Contact, Pilz, Rockwell Automation, Schneider Electric, Siemens, TTTech, Wago, and Yokogawa. The FLC initiative has also gained support from the TSN testbeds of the Edge Computing Consortium (ECC), the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC), and Labs Network Industry 4.0 (LNI 4.0) with regard to the FLC activities to adopt “One TSN”.
Moxa has participated in all these testbeds to showcase the interoperability of its TSN switches with the devices of other vendors in one standard Ethernet-based network infrastructure. This interoperability will be instrumental in the future of industrial automation by opening up new possibilities brought on by the IIoT and Industry 4.0.