August was a month of collaboration news. After years of organizations aligning into opposing groups backing similar, but different, technologies, things are coming together. You cannot count this one on the fingers of one hand.

ISA100 WCI, NAMUR, ODVA, PI, VDMA, and ZVEI Plan to Partner with FieldComm Group and OPC Foundation to Collaboratively Develop the Process Automation Device Information Model Standard

The goal—something end users are asking for:

Collaboration promises to simplify integration of OT and IT systems by optimizing process automation end users’ management of data from field devices.

From the news release:

Major standards development and end user organizations serving the process automation industry announce August 23, 2022 ongoing collaboration work on the specification for a standardized Process Automation Device Information Model (PA-DIM). Participating organizations plan to share ownership of the specification and collaboratively participate in the PA-DIM working group, hosted at FieldComm Group, creating enhancements and extensions to the PA-DIM specification.

Expanding ownership to these organizations and their members will further solidify the adoption of the OPC UA-based standard model for core field device information in process automation plants today and new products going forward. 

New co-owners of the PA-DIM specification include ISA100 WCI, ODVA, PROFIBUS/PROFINET International, NAMUR, VDMA, and ZVEI.

Following are all the requisite statements of support from each of the affected organizations along with a description of them all.

Andre Ristaino, Managing Director of ISA100 WCI: “As a standards-driven organization, the ISA100 Wireless Compliance Institute has been supporting the ISA100 Wireless (IEC 62734) standard with its core mission of assuring device interoperability. The PA-DIM specification fits into our mission and we have adopted it as the foundation for standardized data exchange in our ISA100 Wireless ecosystem.”

Ted Masters, President & CEO FieldComm Group: “PA-DIM helps bridge the gap between IT and OT systems in a protocol agnostic way.  This coupled with the extensive use of semantic identifiers provides an ideal solution to allow end users to access instrumentation data from both the installed base and newly installed instruments.  We are delighted that the major standards bodies and end user organizations in the process automation industry have agreed to collaborate on this important standard.”

Michael Pelz, Vice President, Christine Oro Saveedra, General Manager, NAMUR (User Association of Automation Technology in Process Industries): 

“NAMUR bundles end-user competencies for automation and digitalization within the process industry to enable more efficient, sustainable, and secure processes. NAMUR Open Architecture (NOA) aims to make stranded production data easily and securely accessible and more importantly usable for plant and asset monitoring as well as optimization. NOA enables this without compromising the availability or OT-Infrastructure of a production facility. In order to use NOA effectively, standardized information models are essential. For this reason, NAMUR, in cooperation with ZVEI, supported the PA-DIM activities at a very early stage in order to develop a common data model as an interoperable, non-proprietary interface. It is a great signal that the future development of PA-DIM is now supported and adapted by further organizations. A signal that with this broadly supported standard, investment-safe (NOA) projects can be realized in the long term.”

Dr. Al Beydoun, President & Executive Director of ODVA: “ODVA is pleased to support the PA-DIM profile to enable greater information standardization within process automation, which will allow for more seamless data analysis and prognostics. End users of EtherNet/IP networks will be able to leverage PA-DIM to move data from the field to the cloud and to realize improved data standardization across networks.”

Stefan Hoppe, OPCF President & Executive Director: “Digitization needs a secure transfer of globally accepted information models across industries, technologies, and applications. No single organization can achieve this alone! OPCF, as a co-owner from the beginning, welcomes to extend the ownership of PA-DIM to ensure this necessary global acceptance. OPC UA over MQTT is the only accepted field-to-multi-cloud solution – the combination with PA-DIM plus 70+ additional information models is unique.”

Karsten Schneider, Chairman PROFIBUS & PROFINET International: “For us at PI, standardized information models like PA-DIM are a key enabler for the digital transformation. Since PROFINET is based on standard Ethernet, it can be used as the infrastructure in plants for all data exchange needs. With OPC UA being a perfect match for vertical communication in addition to PROFINET’s powerful and rich feature set, your automation solution will be ready for Industry 4.0.” 

Andreas Faath, VDMA Head of Machine Information Interoperability: “Interoperability is one of the major pillars for intelligent production. The VDMA’s vision is to achieve interoperability not only within the machine building industry but also across industries. VDMA will support the PA-DIM standard with its experience out of 60+ released or in development domain-specific and cross-domain harmonized OPC UA-based information models, including models for the area of process industry, for example, pumps and motors. We like to share this knowledge and are delighted to be part of PA-DIM and to support this new collaboration between mechanical engineering and process industry.”

Felix Seibl, ZVEI Managing Director: “Automation and Process Automation are the Key enablers to face the Major Challenges of the Future: Sustainable, efficient, and interoperable production. By creating and introducing smart digitalization concepts, for example NOA (NAMUR Open Architecture), together with the end users of NAMUR, ZVEI and its member companies help process and discrete industries to master these challenges. We are happy and feel privileged to become a co-owner of PA-DIM, which is a great basis for our digitalization efforts.”

Since 2017, FieldComm Group and OPC Foundation, as original co-owners and co-developers, have collaborated with standards organizations and users to create the PA-DIM specification to address end user use cases and requirements as outlined in NAMUR’s recommendations (NE 175, NE 176), also known as the NAMUR Open Architecture. The first version of the specification was published on 31 March 2020 and includes an information model and semantic identifiers for common process automation instrument types including pressure, differential pressure, temperature, level, flow, and valve positioners. Current activity within the working group is focused on extending the model to include process analyzers.

Benefits of PA-DIM

The Process Automation Device Information Model is a specification that allows for protocol agnostic communication of common process automation instrument parameters, including semantic IDs as defined by IEC 61987, using OPC UA information modeling techniques. Eliminating automation protocol dependencies simplifies the integration of IT and OT systems. Including semantic device information enables unambiguous machine-to-machine (M2M) communication. Fieldbus-specific implementations are converted into the address space of the PA-DIM Information Model.

Products using PA-DIM can easily support the NAMUR Open Architecture (NOA) use cases including automated as built, unique identification, device dimensioning, multivariable possibility check, read multivariable process values, device life cycle backup, health monitoring, and diagnosis.

About ISA100 WCI

ISA100 Wireless (IEC 62734) is an international industrial wireless network standard designed to meet the field needs of the process automation field. ISA100 Wireless is open and interoperable, enabling multi-vendors to build highly reliable large-scale wireless networks.  The ISA100 Wireless Compliance Institute promotes ISA100 Wireless technology, provides technical support, and performs conformance testing services to ensure interoperability among ISA100 Wireless certified technology.

Contact: Andre Ristaino, [email protected]

About FieldComm Group

The FieldComm Group is a global standards-based organization consisting of leading process end users, manufacturers, universities, and research organizations that work together to direct the development, incorporation, and implementation of new and overlapping technologies and serves as the source for FDI technology. FieldComm Group’s mission is to develop, manage, and promote global standards for integrating digital devices to on-site, mobile, and cloud-based systems; provide services for standards conformance and implementation of process automation devices and systems that enable and improve reliability and multi-vendor interoperability; lead the development of a unified information model of process automation field devices while building upon industry investment in the HART®, FOUNDATION™ Fieldbus, and FDI® standards. Membership is open to anyone interested in the use of the technologies.

Contact: Paul Sereiko, [email protected]

About NAMUR

NAMUR, the “User Association of Automation Technology in Process Industries”, is an international association of user companies (established in 1949) and represents their interests concerning automation technology. NAMUR has over 170 member companies. The achievement of added value through automation engineering is at the forefront in all NAMUR member company activities. 

NAMUR represents several thousand process control technology specialists, with around 300 participating in almost 40 working groups involved in all areas regarding the process industry.

Contact: Christine Oro Saavedra, General Manager,  [email protected]

About ODVA

ODVA is an international standards development and trade organization with members from the world’s leading automation suppliers. ODVA’s mission is to advance open, interoperable information and communication technologies for industrial automation. Its standards include the Common Industrial Protocol or “CIP™,” ODVA’s media independent network protocol – and industrial communication technologies including EtherNet/IP, DeviceNet, and others. For interoperability of production systems and their integration with other systems, ODVA embraces the adoption of commercial-off-the-shelf, standard Internet, and Ethernet technologies as a guiding principle. This principle is exemplified by EtherNet/IP – today’s leading industrial Ethernet network.

Contact: Steve Fales, [email protected]  

About The OPC Foundation

Since 1996, the OPC Foundation has facilitated the development and adoption of the OPC information exchange standards. As both advocate and custodian of these specifications, the Foundation’s mission is to help industry vendors, end-users, and software developers maintain interoperability in their manufacturing and automation assets. The OPC Foundation is dedicated to providing the best specifications, technology, process, and certification to achieve multivendor, multiplatform, secure, reliable, interoperability for moving data and information from the embedded world to the enterprise cloud. The Foundation serves over 880 members worldwide in the Industrial Automation, IT, IoT, IIoT, M2M, Industrie 4.0, Building Automation, machine tools, pharmaceutical, petrochemical, oil & gas, water treatment, and Smart Energy sectors.  

Contact: Stefan Hoppe, President and Executive Director, [email protected]

About PROFIBUS & PROFINET International

Over 30 years ago, the PROFIBUS Nutzerorganisation e.V. (PNO) initiated the foundation of a large, global community which has come together under the PROFIBUS & PROFINET International (PI) umbrella organization. With 25 regional user organizations in every international market, around 1,700 member companies and many thousands of different products, PI is the largest interest group for industrial automation technology. Its global network includes most manufacturers and users from every industry. The technologies cover every key market of industrial automation, from production automation to process automation to motion control and safety applications. PROFIBUS, the leading fieldbus – PROFINET, the leading Ethernet standard – IO-Link, the leading sensor/actuator communication system – and omlox, the open and interoperable standard for real-time locating – are available automation technologies with future potential enabling production in the “Industry 4.0” generation.

Contact: Barbara Weber, [email protected]

About VDMA

The VDMA represents around 3,500 German and European mechanical and plant engineering companies. The industry stands for innovation, export orientation and medium-sized businesses. The companies employ around four million people in Europe, more than one million of them in Germany alone. Mechanical and plant engineering represents a European turnover volume of around 800 billion euros. In the entire manufacturing sector, it contributes the highest share to the European gross domestic product with a value added of around 270 billion euros.

Contact: Andreas Faath, [email protected]

About ZVEI

The ZVEI promotes the industry’s joint economic, technological and environmental policy interests on a national, European and global level. The association has more than 1,100 member companies, and 170 employees work in the ZVEI Group.

The sector has about 879,000 employees in Germany (July 2022). In 2021 the turnover was Euro 200 billion. 

The electro and digital industry is the most innovative industry sector in Germany. One-third of the industry’s sales are based on new products. Every third innovation in Germany´s manufacturing sector stems from solutions of this sector. More than 20 percent of all industrial R+D spending comes from this industry. Every year, the industry spends 20 billion euros on R+D, more than 6 billion euros on investments and two billion euros on training and further education.

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