Collaboration Boosts Process Automation Device Information Model

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]mur.de

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.

Fanuc To Expand Facility Footprint in Auburn Hills

In this era of ditching bean-counters’ spreadsheets and returning manufacturing to the US, FANUC America provides some welcome news. It has announced a West Campus expansion that will push its operational space in Oakland County, Michigan to nearly two million square feet.  The construction will include a 655,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility to house manufacturing, engineering and R&D projects.

This investment in Michigan’s growing manufacturing area includes the purchase of 67 acres of land as well as the site of the former Thomas M. Cooley Law School Campus, which will provide future growth in the education of the next generation of robotics and automation workers. Including the existing building, FANUC will add a total of 788,000 square feet of additional operational floor space. 

In October 2019, FANUC America opened North Campus, a 461,000 square-foot facility built by General Development Company, who is also constructing the new West Campus. 

North Campus, located in Auburn Hills, Michigan, is walking distance from FANUC America’s headquarters in Rochester Hills, Michigan. The addition continues to be crucial in growing the company’s engineering, R&D, manufacturing and warehousing capabilities and has supported record-breaking orders and deliveries in a short period of time.

After the City of Auburn Hills approves plans, FANUC America plans to break ground in the fall of 2022 and is expected to be completed in the spring of 2024.

MESA Turns 30

We are excited to announce that 2022 marks MESA’s 30th anniversary! On August 21,1992, a group of manufacturing technology luminaries gathered to form a membership society, and MESA members have been delivering excellence around what is now known as smart manufacturing ever since!  Thank you for helping us achieve this milestone, we look forward to celebrating with you over the coming months! 

I began a journey into software in the late 70s with RPG (for the IBM mini-computer of the time), BASIC, Pascal, and assembly. My boss at the time had a vision for using software and sent me to IBM training to install a 1978-version MRP II application–an early MES.

I’ve donated many hours to the Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association (Manufacturing Execution Systems Association) over the past 17 years or so. They have added a lot of thought leadership to Smart Manufacturing. Congratulations for surviving 30 years.

Ohio State Establishes Research Center for Advanced Manufacturing

Potential NSF investment of $52 million over 10 years funds convergent research, workforce development.

News about funding for an advanced manufacturing research center.

The Ohio State University will lead a multi-institutional engineering research center to develop and deploy revolutionary, intelligent autonomous manufacturing systems and educate a future manufacturing workforce. The center will create approaches central to next-generation manufacturing to create jobs, train a diverse workforce and ease supply chain issues by growing a new American industry.

The National Science Foundation announced funding for the Hybrid Autonomous Manufacturing, Moving from Evolution to Revolution (HAMMER) Engineering Research Center, for five years at $26 million with the ability to renew for another $26 million for an additional five years. If fully realized, it will be one of the largest research investments in the last decade for Ohio State.

Ohio State will partner with Case Western Reserve University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Northwestern University and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville along with more than 70 industry, educational and technical organization collaborators to develop and implement new manufacturing technologies for agile, high-performance and high-quality components.

Glenn Daehn, the Mars G. Fontana Professor of Metallurgical Engineering, will serve as the director of the center.

Through basic, applied and translational research, HAMMER will accelerate the development and deployment of intelligent autonomous manufacturing systems that will use multiple processes to control material properties and component dimensions to allow rapid customization. These systems will learn from each operation, improving themselves over time.

In addition to the collaboration with the four partner universities, HAMMER will include convergent research across colleges at Ohio State. The College of Arts and Sciences, College of Medicine and the John Glenn College of Public Affairs join the College of Engineering in supporting the new engineering research center.

The NSF Engineering Research Center (ERC) program supports convergent research, education and technology translation at U.S. universities to lead to strong societal impacts.

Each ERC has interacting foundational components that go beyond the research project, including engineering workforce development at all stages, a culture of diversity and inclusion where all participants gain mutual benefit and value creation within an innovation ecosystem that will outlast the lifetime of the ERC.

Since the program’s start in 1985, NSF has funded 75 ERCs throughout the United States. NSF supports each center for up to 10 years. This investment has led to many successes, including:

  • More than 240 spinoff companies
  • More than 900 patents
  • More than 14,400 total bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees to ERC students
  • Numerous research outcomes enabling new technologies

Inductive Automation Fills New Executive Leadership Team

Company Adds Chief Technology Evangelist, Chief Technology Architect, and Chief Information Security Officer

Continuing to pass the torch to a new generation of leaders who actually have been instrumental in the company’s success so far, Inductive Automation announced another round of C-level appointments. 

An earlier round of leadership changes came in July when CEO and Founder Steve Hechtman and COO Wendi-Lynn Hechtman announced they were delegating their C-level roles to focus on their roles as the Executive Chairmen of the Board of Directors, and promoted Colby Clegg to CEO, Kat Robinett to COO, and Carl Gould to CTO.

In this new round of appointments, Travis Cox has been promoted to the new role of Chief Technology Evangelist, Kevin McClusky to the new role of Chief Technology Architect, and Jason Waits to the new role of Chief Information Security Officer.

Inductive Automation’s key product, Ignition by Inductive Automation, is an industrial application platform with tools for building solutions in human-machine interface (HMI), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

As Chief Technology Evangelist, Travis Cox will undertake a variety of responsibilities with the overarching goal of raising awareness of industry trends, modern technologies, open standards, and the many possibilities of the Ignition platform. Cox will communicate through a variety of formats, including presenting at conferences and events, meetings with industry leaders, and providing media interviews.

As Chief Technology Architect, Kevin McClusky will work to help drive widespread adoption of Ignition, work closely with some of the world’s most innovative companies, provide long-term architectural guidance, and provide vital feedback to the CEO and CTO about customer needs, customer and industry trends, new technology adoption, and any identified threats or risks to the company.

As CTE and CTA, Travis Cox and Kevin McClusky will work closely with Inductive Automation’s Chief Strategy Officer, Don Pearson, to expand the market and partnership growth of the ever-expanding Ignition ecosystem of solutions.

As Chief Information Security Officer, Jason Waits will maintain a central and high-level view into the needs of Inductive Automation’s entire ecosystem, from the company to its products and everything in between. This new role is a natural progression for Waits, who was part of the first-place team in 2017 US Cyber Challenge, and has functioned as IA’s resident security expert for several years.

Hexagon Announces Digital Reality Challenge to Start-ups

Hexagon has been busily acquiring companies over the past year or two. It has also launched an interesting incubator-type program called Sixth Sense encouraging start up entrepreneurs with enticements of monetary support.

  • Second Sixth Sense challenge invites applications from disruptive start-ups in digital reality, visualisation, artificial intelligence, and automation.
  • Launched in January 2022, the open innovation platform supports scaling start-ups in advanced manufacturing with Hexagon resources and market insights.
  • Up to three winners will be selected after an intensive 10-week programme and offered the opportunity to scale their business alongside Hexagon.

Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division announced the launch of its second Sixth Sense start-up challenge: digital reality and visualisation for a sustainable future.

Hexagon launched the Sixth Sense open innovation platform in January 2022 to nurture start-ups in the advanced manufacturing space with Hexagon resources. Its first winners were selected in June and are rapidly scaling with Hexagon’s portfolio and impressive customer base. Its Manufacturing Intelligence division provides engineering, production and quality technology and services to the world’s biggest and most innovative technology leaders around the world, from customers such as Audi and Boeing, to partners like Microsoft.

Sixth Sense has now opened applications for its second cohort, inviting entries from start-ups with innovative technologies in advanced visualisation, digital realities, artificial intelligence, and automation. A cohort will be selected based on a pitching competition in September, after which the platform will fast-track the companies through an intensive 10-week programme to inform and refine their offering with Hexagon’s market insights. Up to three start-ups will be selected from that shortlist at the final in December and offered the opportunity to scale their business alongside Hexagon. The winners will also have the unique opportunity to be part of Hexagon’s open platform for smart manufacturing collaboration; the “Connect, Innovate, Empower” Nexus ecosystem.

This cohort’s theme builds on Hexagon’s commitment to accelerate innovation and drive the global shift to a new sustainable way of operating. Sixth Sense will see a focus on the following areas of emerging technology: digital twin innovations, metaverse factory design, predictive and prescriptive intelligence, and autonomous and sustainable manufacturing operations.

The selection criteria for Sixth Sense include:

  • $3m or less in revenue
  • 1-5 years in existence
  • Post seed, Series A, Series A+
  • Proven traction and product-market fit
  • Propensity to scale

Preferred qualities:

  • Validation of investment from third party
  • IP & licenses