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Controls convergence strategy sees OPC-UA deployment

12 November 2013

GE Intelligent Platforms has announced plans for consolidation of its control platforms to enable the Industrial Internet. The company’s convergence strategy starts with standardisation on open systems across the platforms to provide customers with interoperability, secure communications and an optimal user experience.

The company’s investment in a single integrated architecture features modular components, an Ethernet backbone and software applications all based on industry standards. As convergence continues, Connected Controls devices will enable more power at the point of control, while software applications provide local intelligence to deliver on the principles of the Industrial Internet and machine-to-machine communications.

“Seamless communications, more efficient configuration and a great human experience are the foundation of the Industrial Internet,” explained Bernie Anger, general manager for GE Intelligent Platforms’ Controls & Communications Systems business. “Open standard protocols, high-performance controllers, shared system-level configuration tools and file formats that enable self-assembling nodes, and user experience standards for tool and application development are going to allow customers to get connected faster and easier.”
OPC-UA is the first open systems standard to be deployed across GE’s control platforms. It is the next generation Open Productivity & Connectivity standard that provides a cohesive, secure and reliable cross platform framework for access to real time and historical data and events. The company’s Connected Controls platforms, featuring PACSystems and Mark*VIe controllers, as well as Proficy CIMPLICITY HMI/SCADA software are rolling out with the OPC-UA standard. Additionally, the two largest open I/O standards, PROFINET and Foundation Fieldbus (Mark*VIe only), have been fully integrated in the controllers.

“A focus on standards keeps us positioned for continuous evolution,” continued Anger. “OPC-UA provides flexibility of configuration and device interoperability, and smart and secure communications across solutions. This enables the analytics that fuel the brilliant machines in today’s connected world.”

To facilitate the optimal user experience the platforms will build on technologies recently announced by GE’s Software Center called Predix, a first-of-its-kind industrial-strength software platform that provides a standard and secure way to connect machines, industrial big data and people. Predix combines technologies for distributed computing and analytics, asset management, machine-to-machine communication and mobility that can run on-premise or in the cloud. New solutions that leverage the platform will be able to easily integrate with customers’ existing software and data management infrastructure to increase productivity, reduce waste and improve business operations.

“Today’s controls users need experiences that are seamless, context-driven, regional, community-based and, most of all, connected,” concluded Anger. “The consolidated GE controls architecture and use of open system standards will provide all of these benefits in one place so customers can integrate, operate, maintain and manage their operations with world-class automation solutions that leverage great domain expertise and provide accelerated value.”


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