11 April 2019

New IoT standards to drive smart factory growth

New standards will drive technological innovation and industrial transformation through aiding Industry 4.0 deployment in smart factories by removing one of the biggest hurdles – allowing components made by different vendors to talk to each other and to agree a standard protocol for factory to factory communication.

The emergence of the OPC UA TSN communications stack under the guidance of a consortium of automation specialists, is integral to developing industrial IoT deployments.

The fourth revolution in manufacturing has been given another leg-up with the launch of a new standard to facilitate interoperability between various equipment and component vendors and cloud systems.

What is Industry 4.0

For those of you late to the story, here is a brief introduction to Industry 4.0
The introduction of computers in Industry 3.0, added an entirely new technological innovation through automation.
Industry 4.0 goes one step further through connecting and communicating between factories and ultimately making decisions without human involvement.

For example, the whole supply chain can optimise itself to ensure just-in-time delivery of critical components based on final product sales forecasts all without human intervention.

A combination of cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things and the Internet of Systems make Industry 4.0 possible and the smart factory a reality.

Smart machines aided with artificial intelligence with access to more data will improve manufacturing efficiency through less waste and greater productivity.

The key driver is networking these machines to enable the sharing of information that results in the true power of Industry 4.0.

The need for a standard

However, to facilitate sharing of data, a standard for communication between smart devices and smart factories is required.
Proprietary systems create a lot of headaches for automation specialists (and anyone working in technical fields).

The pioneers into a new technology either hope to write the standard that will be adopted by the industry or seek first mover advantage by locking out new players and seeking to corner the market.

The reality is, the early learnings often identify a better way of doing things and interoperability protocols get re-written.

Vendors providing competing versions of the same product or even components that are connected to create a system run into compatibility issues which inhibit the adoption of new technologies and limits market take-up.

Which is why many industries see the advantages of sitting down and working out a common standard.

Development of a new standard

B&R Industrial Automation, ABB, Bosch Rexroth, Cisco, General Electric, Rockwell Automation and Schneider Electric, among others, are pushing for an open, standards-based industrial IoT (IIoT) solution for deterministic and real-time communication between industrial controllers and the cloud.

The group have banded together forming the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) and the OPC Foundation to lead the development of standards for the time-shaping functions of ‘time-sensitive networking’ (TSN) IEEE 802.1, a critical part of their elected solution, and has identified OPC UA TSN as the unified standard for industrial automation and IIoT connectivity.

What is OPC UA ?

OPC UA, is an acronym for the process of ‘object linking and embedding for process control unified automation’, and is an updated, more-secure version of the commonly deployed OPC protocol stack.

The new standard will deliver a common communication stack to enable multiple vendor hardware and ecosystems to blend and gain more access to the accumulated data.

It makes for a more robust system from the outset that can be maintained by a larger pool of automation specialists not just the technical team who originally designed and installed the system.

This provides confidence for the client organisation to invest in a new system knowing that it can be supported well into the future.
The OPC Foundation will provide the OPC UA over TSN unified communication standard for Industrial IoT. Standardization and ongoing development of OPC UA at the field level will take place under this umbrella. Thus delivering the market's demand for a vendor-agnostic, interface-free industrial communication.

B&R INDUSTRIAL AUTOMATION as a main player in the development

B&R Industrial Automation has been a main player in the initiative to develop and standardize OPC UA over TSN for communication at the controller and field level.

The company plays a leading role in the OPC Foundation and actively participates in testbeds such as those conducted by the Industrial Internet Consortium.

"We're working to make sure that both builders and operators of industrial machinery see real benefits from harmonized communication as soon as possible," says Stefan Schönegger, vice president of strategy and innovation at B&R Industrial Automation.

In addition, B&R Industrial Automation's parent company ABB has been appointed to the board of the OPC Foundation.

18x faster

OPC UA over TSN will enable plug-and-produce networks that are easy to administer and configure.

Network stations will communicate up to 18 times faster than with any protocol available on the market today. This opens up new possibilities in areas such as tightly synchronized motion and control applications.

OPC UA over TSN will also meet the requirements of future IoT applications. The technology supports networks comprising tens of thousands of nodes and benefits from bandwidth extensions to the Ethernet standard.

Even large volumes of data – such as those generated by integrated machine vision applications – can be handled with ease.

Remtron and Industry 4.0

As a distributor of both ABB and B&R Industrial Automation products, Remtron is constantly developing its knowledge of Industry 4.0 and undertaking internal development to improve our capability.

Remtron has an engineering team that regularly meets to review new techniques, new supplier releases, software and industry standards to improve our ability to support our clients designing and deploying Industry 4.0 projects.

Watch this space – we have some exciting news coming!