FDT IIoT Server Standard to Empower Platform Independent Deployment

FDT IIoT Server Standard to Empower Platform Independent Deployment

Another group validates standards for industrial communication including FDT and OPC UA.

FDT Group, an independent, international, not-for-profit standards association supporting the evolution of FDT technology (IEC 62453), announced that its Board of Directors voted unanimously to empower the emerging FDT IIoT Server (FITS) architecture with full platform independence. This decision strengthens the FITS architecture to support the diverse array of operating systems to meet industry-driven demands.

In addition to platform independence, key features of the FITS solution include native integration of the OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA), as well as comprehensive Control and Web Services interfaces. With built-in security protecting valuable information and operating data, the FITS platform will enable cloud, enterprise, on-premise, and a single-user desktop deployment method meeting the needs of the process, hybrid and discrete manufacturing sectors.

“The FITS platform is the ‘game changer’ the automation industry has been anticipating,” said Glenn Schulz, managing director of FDT Group. “I’d like to thank our Architecture and Specification Working Group that worked behind the scenes investigating and prototyping the platform independence feature approved by our board.”

Schulz added, “The Architecture and Specification Working Group has been directed to immediately transition FDT Server Common Components to a pure .NET Core implementation, previously built on the Microsoft .NET Framework. This transition will result in a single FDT Server environment deployable on a Microsoft-, Linux-, or macOS-based operating system, which will empower the intelligent enterprise by bridging the current installed base with next-generation solutions supporting the IIoT and I4.0 era.”

The significant decision and direction allows nearly unlimited deployment and application scenarios. For example, cloud-based FDT Servers can enjoy the performance and cost benefits of a Linux operating system. Traditional control system vendors can offer the FDT Server embedded in their hardware, and machine builders can deploy a small Linux-based FDT Server offering a comprehensive preconfigured asset management system for their skid that can be securely accessed remotely or with smart phones or browsers.

MES applications can also incorporate an FDT Server to gain secure, direct access to production data and asset health and availability metrics through OPC UA. In addition, service providers can wrap services around an FDT Server delivered in an industrial hardened Linux box. The opportunities for cost savings and value creation goes on due to the highly flexible deployment options of the FITS standard.

Because of the security, scalability and the ease of deployment of an FDT Server, the solution will simplify entry into the IIoT marketplace as the only open platform standardized integration architecture providing a single interface with cloud-to-plant floor mobile access. The decision to migrate to platform independence will delay the launch of the FITS specification by approximately six months. With the launch planned for the latter half of 2019, alongside Common Components supporting the FITS standard, automation suppliers and service providers will immediately reap the benefits of a quick development and deployment strategy. Common Components create a library of FDT routines and will simplify compliant development of FITS-based solutions such as Servers, Device Type Managers (DTMs) and APPs.

The final standard will be delivered as three documents: the FDT 2.5 specification, which builds on FDT 2.1 to include HTML5 and JavaScript graphical user interface features; the FITS Web Services Technical Specification, which describes the Web Services interfaces and requirements for an FDT Server; and the OPC UA Annex detailing the OPC UA Server mapping for an FDT Server.

OPC Foundation Extends OPC UA With TSN To Field Level

OPC Foundation Extends OPC UA With TSN To Field Level

OPC UA and TSN (Time Sensitive Network). A marriage I was beginning to think was never going to happen. I wrote a preliminary white paper following Hannover Messe 2017. Yes, more than a year ago. (Check it out by clicking the small ad on the sidebar.) This thing has been like a ball in a Rugby match—kicked, going different directions, downed and picked up. People wanting to move before thinking. Getting caught up in legal issues and “politics.” Postponed press conferences.

And, now…”The OPC Foundation launches an initiative to further enable OPC UA adoption throughout industrial automation by extending standardization and harmonization activities for OPC UA including TSN-enabled Ethernet networks.”

The goal of this initiative is to deliver an open, cohesive approach to implement OPC UA including TSN and associated application profiles. This will advance the OPC Foundation providing vendor independent end-to-end interoperability into field level devices for all relevant industry automation use-cases. The OPC Foundation vision of becoming the worldwide industrial interoperability standard is advanced by integrating field devices and the shop floor.

A new set of working groups will identify, manage and standardize the OPC UA relevant topics focused on industrial automation including,

• harmonization and standardization of application profiles e.g. IO, motion control, safety, system redundancy

• standardization of OPC UA information models for field level devices in offline e.g. device description and online e.g. diagnostics

• mapping of OPC UA application profiles related to real-time operations on ethernet networks including TSN

• definition of certification procedures

The working groups will closely align with the TSN Profile for Industrial Automation (TSN-IA-Profile) which will be standardized by the IEC/IEEE 60802 standardization group. This will help ensure that a single, converged TSN network approach is maintained so that OPC UA can share one common multi-vendor TSN network infrastructure together with other applications.

This initiative integrates well with existing joint working groups engaged in ongoing companion specification e.g. description of machines.

Stefan Hoppe, President of the OPC Foundation said “The benefit of membership in the OPC Foundation allows companies to actively engage and influence the direction of the OPC Foundation and includes early access to the specifications and technology. This initiative will grow OPC UA into new markets and I highly encourage all OPC Foundation members to contact the OPC Foundation to participate”.

Thomas Burke, Strategic Marketing Officer of the OPC Foundation, “We are very excited about the initiative to extend OPC UA including TSN down to the field level, and the number of companies that want to actively participate in this initiative bringing the technology into real world products. This set of working groups will pave the way for the broadest, easiest, and fastest market adoption of OPC UA over TSN.”

The OPC Foundation develops and maintains OPC UA as an open and secure communication platform comprised of an information model framework, communication models and underlying protocol bindings. As such, the OPC Foundation works non-exclusively with other organizations on various OPC UA related topics but continues to operate as a platform, technology, use case, and vendor agnostic standardization body.

Industrial Internet of Things Easier to Access and More Secure

One of the most important technologies for successful implementation of an Industrial Internet of Things program involves moving more computing and storage power to the edge.

GE has been in the news more often than it would like over the past year—my broker just called and in our discussion I mentioned writing an article about GE and he groaned.

However, GE Digital despite rumors to the contrary still lives and released some new products. One is an edge solution and the other an on-prem server solution.

Predix Edge aims at simplifying edge-to-cloud computing. GE Digital also introduced its Predix Private Cloud (PPC) solution, an on-premises deployment of the Predix platform, which gives customers the privacy, security, data sovereignty, and data isolation provided by a private cloud infrastructure.

“More than 70 percent of industrial companies are stuck in pilot purgatory – that is, they are either still at the start or unable to further advance their IIoT initiatives,” said Eddie Amos, Corporate VP, Platform & Industrial Applications, GE Digital. “Companies often face unexpected complexities in the solution design or integration, steep costs or security vulnerabilities. The custom, one-off solutions that tend to grow out of pilot projects further burden companies with ongoing maintenance, patching and upgrading over time. Realizing the full impact of IIoT requires moving beyond the pilot stage with scalable, interoperable solutions – and GE Digital helps lead them through that journey.”

The offerings GE Digital unveiled help companies bridge this gap – and offer businesses flexibility when and where they operate.

Predix Edge securely captures, processes, and analyzes data that can be managed locally or pushed to the cloud, executing the most demanding workloads at the edge and producing insights in near real time. With new functionality to help businesses accelerate the IIoT, Predix Edge provides:

Simple deployment and management capabilities out of the box, allowing users to remotely monitor and manage all their edge devices and heterogenous industrial data from a centralized management console.

Rapid time to value by supporting edge application development for almost all programming languages – such as Java, C++, Go and Python – and coming pre-integrated for use with GE Digital’s leading industrial apps like Asset Performance Management (APM) and Operations Performance Management (OPM).

Support for data storage and analysis online, offline or with intermittent connectivity in remote environments, such as offshore oil rigs or disconnected use cases where internet connectivity is never available. Predix Edge then transfers key data back to the cloud when re-connected.

Edge-to-cloud security and compliance to protect data and operations. The hardened, embedded edge operating system helps manage connected devices and remotely deploy patches, giving users the ability to control security at a deeper level.

Low latency application deployment closer to the originating data, to enable companies with limited connectivity, regulatory requirements or other constraints a way to accelerate time to value.

Processing data and applying analytics close to the device can dramatically reduce downtime, optimize maintenance schedules, and add operational value, all while reducing network and cloud costs. Predix Edge and the Predix platform work seamlessly together to provide distributed IIoT processing and analytics where they’re needed most.

To further help simplify the IIoT process, GE Digital also unveiled Predix Private Cloud (PPC), an on-premises deployment of the Predix platform and portfolio, that offers companies maximum levels of security and privacy.

Already commercially available, PPC enables IIoT connectivity, data, analytics and applications – such as Predix applications or custom applications – to be hosted on-premises, providing customers with multiple ways to deploy the Predix platform. The on-premises offering helps companies operating in high data volume scenarios access data securely in near real time and also manage edge and disconnected environments. PPC is specifically designed to meet privacy, security, data sovereignty anddata isolation requirements based on a customer’s industry, region or country.

Open Marketplace for IoT Edge Computing

Open Marketplace for IoT Edge Computing

News from EdgeX Foundry including an open marketplace for IoT Edge Computing. This is an interesting extension to the platform. Also, Intel has joined the consortium.

At a glance:

  • EdgeX Foundry Seeds an Open Marketplace for IoT Edge Computing with New Developer Kits and Smart Building Automation
  • Community Demo at IoT Solutions World Congress
  • Intel, Redis Labs, ZEDEDA and five other tech influencers commit to IoT interoperability and join EdgeX’s mission to create a unified edge ecosystem

EdgeX Foundry, an open-source, vendor-neutral project that enables an ecosystem of plug-and-play components to unify the IoT edge computing marketplace, announced the availability of EdgeX-enabled developer kits and a Smart Building Automation Community Demonstrator that will debut at IoT Solutions World Congress on October 16-18 in Barcelona.

Hosted by The Linux Foundation, the EdgeX platform is architected to run on any hardware or operating system and unify components coded in any programming language to accelerate time to market and simplify the deployment of secure IoT solutions. The framework serves as a de facto standard to bring together any mix of existing connectivity protocols with an ecosystem of heterogeneous value-add applications.

Developer kits are important tools for building new applications and solutions. A variety of dev kits are already on the market; however, the majority of these kits lock the developer into a particular back-end platform or cloud. In comparison, dev kits based on the EdgeX framework will provide developers with the freedom to choose from an ecosystem of components bound together by the EdgeX interoperability APIs.

“With the emergence of these dev kits, developers will have the opportunity to prototype with their choice of ingredients while taking advantage of plug-in components from EdgeX’s growing vendor-neutral ecosystem,” said Jason Shepherd, EdgeX Foundry Governing Board Chair and Dell Technologies IoT and Edge Computing CTO. “This allows them to focus on innovation rather than reinvention, in addition to being able to add and exchange components at any time to optimize their solution throughout the development and deployment lifecycle.”

There will be two different kinds of dev kits – community and commercial. For options in the community track, the bill of materials will be purchased independently online, the code will be downloaded straight from a special repository on the project GitHub, and questions will be answered through forums like the EdgeX Rocket Chat. The first kit is based on the Samsung Artik with Grove sensor, and options will grow through community contributions over time.

The commercial track for the dev kits will provide EdgeX members with the ability to seed the emergence of an open marketplace for IoT edge computing. These kits will offer end users with attractive options to get started with professional support so they can focus on their preferred value-add rather than supporting open source code. Commercial options will include kits based on supported versions of the EdgeX framework itself (neutral to any plug-in value add), kits based on specific IoT platforms, and microservice plug-ins for value-add such as analytics, data orchestration and security.

EdgeX Foundry is debuting a new community demo at IoT Solutions World Congress that will highlight the platform’s ability to bring together heterogeneous solution components. This first community demo showcases how EdgeX can bring together a real-world, smart flexible office space environment based on components from a variety of vendors leveraging numerous connectivity standards, operating systems and hardware types.

The growth and diversity of the EdgeX ecosystem over the last year has helped the technical community hit major milestones including the “California” release, which made the switch to Golang for the baseline reference implementation. Since the release in April, EdgeX Foundry unique code contributions from members and non-members alike have more than doubled to 70 on a regular basis.

These contributors have played a major role in the upcoming “Delhi” release, which offers major enhancements including the first management features, more security functionality such as access control and improved security bootstrapping, C and Golang-based Device Service SDKs and a reference GUI for demos and simple deployments. Projected to launch in November, the Delhi code will be well-suited for end users to begin developing commercial offers and production deployments. To find more details about Delhi or the EdgeX roadmap, visit the wiki here.

Intel joins the EdgeX Ecosystem

“Today’s announcement represents one more step in Intel’s open source journey and increased role in the advocacy, use and contribution across the ecosystem,” said Stacey Shulman, chief innovation officer for Retail Solutions at Intel. “Intel’s involvement in EdgeX Foundry will help drive scale and accessibility of solutions for both our customers and businesses of all sizes.”

Other new EdgeX Foundry project members include Basking Automation GmbH, Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications (BUPT), DATA AHEAD, CertusNet, Redis Labs, the Federal University of Campina Grande (UFCG) /Embedded Lab, Windmill Enterprise and ZEDEDA.

“We’re standing at a critical point for digital transformation,” said Shepherd. “The massive volume of devices coming online represents a huge opportunity for innovation and is making edge computing a necessity. We need an open, cloud-native edge ecosystem enabled by EdgeX to minimize reinvention and facilitate building and deploying distributed, interoperable applications from the edge to the cloud. We’re thrilled to welcome these new member organizations into our already strong community that shares the same commitment to open collaboration and innovation.”

Industry of Things Conference Comes to Orlando in November

Industry of Things Conference Comes to Orlando in November

The company that organizes the successful Industry of Things conferences in the late winter in San Diego has launched Industry of Things East to be held in Orlando November 14-16. I will be speaking at a break out session on Thursday afternoon that week. Come and heckle me.

The event will include more than 40 interactive sessions and case studies, as well an IIoT Bootcamp. Here are all the formats you will be able to take part to:

IIoT Bootcamp: our partner MESA will take you on the journey towards Smart Manufacturing on November 14
4 Icebreaker sessions round tables on the evening before the first conference day
A Panel session on Society 4.0 – Engaging industry, policy makers, educators and institutions for a harmonious technological future
Over 25 Case studies from MIT, Monsanto, Continental, Siemens, Praxair and many more
12 World Cafés moderated by experts from Covestro, Merck or The Internet Association
2 co-located events: Pharma MES USA and Pharma TRACKTS! USA will gather 300 Manufacturing experts from the Industrial IoT, Pharma MES and serialization communities in one place.

Make sure to have a look at the event program to tailor an agenda fitting to your needs.

I have attended all three of the events in San Diego including participating as a moderator and table leader. This is the premier Internet of Things conference in the country. They also organize events in Berlin, Germany and Singapore.

The company is offering a special rate: simply sign up online before October 24* to take advantage of the $995 special.

Industrial Automation and Information Technology

Industrial Automation and Information Technology

Last week was where industrial automation and information technology met along with my vice–soccer.

Emerson Automation Solutions–Digital Transformation, IT/OT collaboration, corporate acquisitions (GE Intelligent Platforms, once known as GE Fanuc, joins the fold), WirelessHART applications expand, flow control data becomes an integral part of digital transformation.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE)–Refinery of the Future tour of the Texmark refinery that I’ve written about before and CenterPoint Energy where digital boosts the electrical utility industry.

Marketers may still talk of IT/OT convergence as something coming. In many forward thinking plants it is here. Texmark CEO Doug Smith talks freely about the kick in the pants delivered by his insurance carrier that propelled him and his team toward finding innovative solutions to operations challenges.

I sometimes joke that “I’m the point of convergence of IT and OT”, or at least my blog and writing are.

Don’t believe hype or nay-sayers. The collaboration is real–among suppliers, partner ecosystems, managers, engineers. And real benefits are accruing.

Have you joined the 21st Century?

Follow

Follow this blog

Get every new post delivered right to your inbox.