Device network integration is a key goal for automation and control vendors as the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 initiatives move toward new global standards and enterprise wide connectivity. Integrating these physical assets and achieving scalable and secure access to device intelligence is a key trend as companies look to deploy new network architectures.
FDT is an open standard for enterprise-wide network and asset integration from sensors to the cloud. The newest developments with the technology include enhancements for cloud-based enterprise data access, mobility apps, and use of augmented reality. But another key milestone has been an ability to offer a bridge for device-specific information using the FDT/OPC UA information model to offer connectivity in Industry 4.0 and IoT applications.
|FITS server enhancements will benefit maintenance departments by enabling cloud-based enterprise data access, mobility applications and the use of augmented reality to view virtual content. Image source: FDT Group|
FDT/OPC UA Connection
In the last few years, the FDT Group has been working with OPC UA to provide greater access to information throughout the enterprise by making device-specific information available via the FDT/OPC Unified Architecture information model.
New developments are now focused on using this technology as a strategic solution to meeting Industry 4.0 and IIoT needs. This includes:
• providing device information such as network configuration, device parameters and device-related documents (references to fieldbus profile definitions) for DTMs within the RAMI 4.0 architectural model
• creating different partial models of device instances as functional groups that share the same data to allow efficient reuse of data and avoid unnecessary overhead
Tens of millions of DTM-enabled devices installed in the field are already using FDT as the hub of data, but integration with OPC UA provides an ongoing infrastructure to make this information available to thousands of other applications and platforms.
Mobility, Cloud, and Fog Solutions
Using the FITS IIoT server to provide additional web services increases the connectivity options for cloud-based enterprise data access, creation of mobility apps, and use of augmented reality for asset management and preventive maintenance.
The concept is to create a standardized approach for mobile access using browser technology or apps where the mobile device can be authenticated to access the server, and then have full access to manage devices on the network. This approach fits well with the growing trend of using apps for plant asset management and preventive maintenance, for example.
Use of augmented reality using a holographic human-machine Interface (HMI) and Microsoft’s HoloLens computing device takes the possibilities a step further. Users are able to view real-time data and analytics using hands-free operation, visualizing sensor status and live data for each sensor location. Users have a normal field of view using transparent glasses with the virtual content superimposed over the real or physical content.
The ability to combine cloud services with mobile applications, and use of augmented reality, is providing technology solutions that will help address lifecycle management issues which are central to FDT-compliant applications. Using FDT/FRAME-enabled control solutions which can also be configured using OPC UA, the management of networks and devices is enhanced, giving access to data without protocol-specific handling and providing support for a wide range of devices.