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FDT Group, OPC Foundation release updated companion specification for FDT 3.0

September 23, 2021   Don Horne


FDT Group and OPC Foundation, both independent, international, not-for-profit industry associations supporting the evolution of IT/OT harmonization for smart manufacturing, today announced their memberships have approved the update to the FDT OPC Unified Architecture (UA) companion specification (CS).

The new specification launches the only protocol-agnostic, server-level, universal Device Information (DI) Model for both process and discrete manufacturing applications, empowering next-generation, open automation FDT architectures.

The updated FDT OPC UA companion specification is a key technology development unifying data for both IT and OT while enabling the transmission of uniform, real-time process, network, and device information for any OPC UA Client in the enterprise.

FDT Server-based distributed architectures with a built-in, “pre-wired” OPC UA Server seamlessly allow access to all device and network information and metadata via any authenticated OPC UA Client or application. Standard OPC UA browsing techniques are used to expose this information so that authorized OPC UA Clients can connect to the FDT Server to browse, collect, and act on the data as needed. Optional support for a Publish-Subscribe environment allows for efficient, real-time data monitoring and exchange.

“The new companion specification matches the strengths of the FDT 3.0 IIoT platform by harmonizing IT/OT data access for any OPC UA Client supporting smart manufacturing practices,” said Thomas Hadlich, chairman of FDT architecture and specification. “Based on the new OPC UA ‘System Architecture’ template, the updated CS now references OPC UA for Device 1.01 and supports new process device data along with mapping for protocol support files as outlined in FDT 3.0. These important use cases, driven by the automation industry, meet the FDT 3.0 Server architecture requirements and have been strengthened by mapping of Device Type Manager [DTM] static functions and by describing I/O signals for configuration and observation of production process and/or of device performance. The enhancements included in the universal information model will drive industrial automation monitoring and visualization optimization for the enterprise.”

Since 2011, FDT Group and OPC Foundation have collaborated in support of a unified DI model to promote device- and network-level data access in a uniform way for higher-level enterprise applications. The two organizations first announced the release of their joint DI model companion specification in 2016 based on the FDT 2.0 client/server architecture, and as of today, FDT 3.0 Server distributed architectures are supported by a new server-level universal DI model enabling end users to freely mix and match any device with any device information model, from any vendor, and communicate on any network while the FDT Server transparently unifies all the device information and pushes the data to the enterprise for any OPC UA Client in real-time.

“Without interoperability and reliable information, we can’t open automation to innovation,” said Jim Luth, OPC Foundation CTO. “Both OPC Foundation and FDT Group are key industry organizations and leaders in their respective IT and OT interoperability and data domains. Harmonization introduced via the collaborative universal device information model in the new FDT OPC UA companion specification solidifies IT/OT convergence and the path opening automation innovation for both the process and discrete markets. The result empowers a data-centric powerhouse core for any application, allowing the industry to evolve manufacturing best practices with a service-oriented architecture securing the exchange of data to effectively make use of valuable information.”

FDT’s secure, data-centric platform runs behind the scenes at the core of any automation architecture, harmonizing technologies, solutions, and people for today’s infrastructure and tomorrow’s intelligent enterprise. Visualization capabilities with the Universal DI Model are closely aligned with the requirements of major end user associations and their recommendations for an open architecture to make production data easily and securely usable for asset monitoring and optimization. These collaborative efforts supporting new FDT 3.0 architectures are another example of technologies, solutions, and people working together to help achieve a brighter future in industrial manufacturing.

www.fdtgroup.org


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