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An Industrial Ethernet initiative for process automation

ODVA : 15 April, 2013  (Company News)
ODVA has launched an "initiative for process automation’ in cooperation with major suppliers to the process industry, including Cisco Systems, Endress+Hauser, Rockwell Automation and Schneider Electric, to further accelerate the adoption of industrial Ethernet in process automation.
An Industrial Ethernet initiative for process automation

Based on ODVA’s industrial EtherNet/IP technology, this initiative will provide end users with more choices to deploy a complete Ethernet solution for process automation starting with connectivity down to the field level, and expanding in the long term to include the full spectrum of process automation needs, including safety, explosion protection, long distances and extensive diagnostic coverage.

Industrial Ethernet, and EtherNet/IP in particular, has been accepted and widely adopted in factory automation where the automation platform is primarily characterised by discrete control. The acceptance of EtherNet/IP in discrete applications has resulted in the convergence of automation platforms between discrete and hybrid applications. The result is that EtherNet/IP is also now well accepted and widely adopted in process automation, especially in control settings typically found in hybrid industries. The adoption of EtherNet/IP in these hybrid industries has demonstrated the value of industrial Ethernet for process automation and now constitutes a critical proof point for its future deployment in an even broader class of applications for process automation.

“In hybrid industries, EtherNet/IP provides a single architecture with easy access to process information,” says Dr Raimund Sommer, managing director of Endress+Hauser Process Solutions and a member of ODVA’s Board of Directors. “Based on the successful user experiences with EtherNet/IP in hybrid industries, ODVA’s initiative for process automation is the next logical step. By fulfilling the spectrum of process industry requirements, ODVA will increase acceptance of EtherNet/IP at the field level. “

“Since EtherNet/IP is already successfully deployed in hybrid industries and some pure process industries, users are looking to ODVA for additional functionality to facilitate wider use of EtherNet/IP,” says Katherine Voss, executive director of ODVA. “ODVA has decided to respond with an initiative for process automation focused on providing new opportunities for integration improvements, optimized network architecture and increased ROI.”

Through this initiative, ODVA will explore and adopt technology enhancements to ODVA’s EtherNet/IP and Common Industrial Protocol technologies to optimise these technologies for process automation. ODVA’s first action has been to form a standing committee to define the strategic market requirements for new areas of technical work. This committee will shortly be publishing a white paper describing ODVA’s vision for process automation and the resulting technical approach.

Special Interest Group for Machinery Information

In other news, ODVA will form a special interest group for machine information, for the purpose of developing standards for the exchange of information between machines, and between machines and supervisory systems. The resulting standards will provide data models and network services to optimize the exchange of machine information for purposes such as production, energy, or condition monitoring, business intelligence, batch and recipe management, and multi-machine line control.

The formation of the SIG is one outgrowth of ODVA’s machinery initiative, which is aimed at the optimisation of machine integration (or “OMI”). The major focus of the SIG will be the development of data models for logical grouping of machine attributes, along with services necessary for exchange of the data between machines and other machines or supervisory systems. To simplify communication between heterogeneous systems using EtherNet/IP and CIP, Sercos III and/or OPC UA, whenever possible the approach will be to adopt protocol neutral data models which can be adapted to any of the three technologies.

“Without such standard reporting methods and tools, manufacturers must rely on customized, and often proprietary, solutions in order to exchange machine information across systems or transmit data back and forth with the machine,” said Voss. “The technical output of the SIG will help to further the vision of OMI to define open and interoperable standards for integration of machinery assets and systems into the production domain.”

ODVA will issue its call for SIG participants in the second quarter of 2013 with an organisational meeting of the SIG to be held immediately thereafter. The initial scope of work will focus on the information and communication technology needs for use cases related to machine-to-supervisory communication. Participants in the SIG are expected to include individuals from ODVA’s members as well as technical experts from OPC Foundation and Sercos International, ODVA’s alliance partners in its machinery initiative. Future work of the SIG will also address machine-to-machine communication, based on a needs-of-use approach.

ODVA and FDT Group to support CIP Networks in FDT2

Technical work is now underway in the FDT Group to develop an annex to the FDT2 specification for ODVA’s family of CIP Networks. The new annex will ensure that support for an FDT-compatible Device Type Manager is possible for users of EtherNet/IP, DeviceNet, CompoNet and ControlNet who are also using the updates and enhancements to the FDT technology that are included in FDT2.

The FDT Group AISBL is an international non-profit corporation consisting of over 85 leading worldwide companies active in process and factory automation. The major purpose of the FDT Group is to provide an open and non-proprietary interface for the integration of field devices with engineering, automation and asset management systems. In this environment, end users, manufacturers, universities, and research organizations are working together to develop the technology; to provide development tools, support, and training; to coordinate field trials and demonstrations; and to enable product interoperability.

The FDT technology standardises the configuration interface between field devices and host systems, independently of the communication protocol used to transmit the data between them, allowing access to device parameters for applications where extensive device configuration may be needed. ODVA’s CIP technology encompasses a comprehensive suite of services for industrial automation applications, including control, safety, energy, synchronisation, motion, information and network management. When FDT is used in combination with CIP and its network adaptations, the resulting system provides users with a feature-rich interoperable environment for configuration, command and control.

A technical working group has been formed within the FDT Group to prepare the annex for the FDT2 specification. The working group includes companies who are members of both ODVA and the FDT Group and individual participants with subject matter expertise in CIP and FDT2. The FDT Group expects the work to be completed in 2013 and included with both the FDT2 specification and in its IEC standard 62453. ODVA expects that there will be no impact on its specifications for the family of CIP Networks.

“The membership of the FDT Group includes several automation suppliers who provide FDT capability for their products implementing ODVA’s family of CIP Networks,” noted Glenn Schulz, managing director of the FDT Group. “The FDT Group fully supports this annex to the FDT2 specification to ensure use of the technology with the family of CIP networks.”

“Users deploy FDT and CIP in many similar automation applications, making compatibility of the two technologies very beneficial to users,” said Voss. “ODVA is pleased to continue its long-standing cooperation with the FDT Group to help ensure that our specifications continue to support use of the two technologies concurrently in a single system.”

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