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Moving forward to meet challenges

20 May 2014

Suzanne Gill reports on some of the trends and highlights that emerged from the 2014 Hannover Fair.

Companies in the process and manufacturing sectors are facing some big challenges today, in terms of increasing competition and mounting cost pressures. Products, processes and technologies are also becoming increasingly complex, innovation cycles are getting shorter and products need to be more individual while resources are getting scarce. Siemens is confident that the Industry 4.0 vision will provide the solution – flexibly organised production systems and integrated networking of all stages of the value chain.

Professor Siegried Russwurm, CEO of Siemens Industry, explained the company’s views on Industry 4.0.  “We believe that Industry 4.0 comprises three core elements. In the first, the production network, manufacturing execution is playing a greater role. Interlinking of MES with the automation level will continue to increase across company boundaries. The second element describes the merging of product and production lifecycles based on a uniform data model. Only then can the requirements resulting from ever-shorter product lifecycles be technically and economically managed. The third core element is that of cyber physical systems (CPS) which are the basis for greater flexibility and therefore shorter times to."

Russwurm concluded his presentation by saying that he believed there was still a way to go before Industry 4.0 becomes a reality.  In particular, he mentioned that international standards are still lacking in some area. He also commented on the need for new security concepts to be developed. “All industries have a vital interest in securing their know-how and their value-added networks.” He said: “Hardware and software need to be constantly developed and further work needs to be done on partially autonomous optimisation, semantic standards and dynamic architecture concepts to enable flexible and increasingly innovative cooperation.”

Siemens believes that one of the main elements for the future of manufacturing is cyber security and the company used the event to announce that it is combining forces with McAfee to enhance its managed service offering and to provide its customers with greater visibility and control at the factory level while reducing the risk of IP theft.

Michael Fey, worldwide chief executive technology officer at McAfee also attended the Hannover event. Commenting on the need to design security into a product at the earliest stage, he said: “Security by design is the only way to enable the future successfully. You cannot simply bolt on security after the design of a product and still deliver the performance and capabilities we wish to achieve. 

“We can take much of the technology we built to defend the traditional IT environment and bring it into industrial space, but we also have to work together to build new solutions that are uniquely designed for the industrial space and, with Siemens, we are committed to building security solutions that are dedicated and appropriate for this heterogenerous environment.”

Beckhoff also used the event to explain its position regarding Industry 4.0. The company sought to demonstrate how its PC-based control technology can provide the ideal toolbox for these concepts. It argued that a big component needed to offer more flexible manufacturing, efficient and sustainable manufacturing is control technology – which is still far from reaching its full potential. Improved communication methodologies and the rising convergence of information and automation technologies will deliver significant progress – something Beckhoff has always focused on with its PC-based control technology and fieldbus communication. The company believes that its proven PC-based control technology can provide the ideal control architecture for future concepts based around Industry 4.0. 


FDI and FDT interoperability demo
The FDT Group demonstrated the integration of the future FDI device packages into the FDT standard. From the very beginning of its development, the FDI standard has been designed for compatibility with the FDT standard and work is now at the stage where this interoperability could be demonstrated with real devices.

In the Field Communications Lounge area of Hall 9, CodeWrights, an FDT Group member company, demonstrated – on an integrated brewery display – how fast and easy it would be for the operator of a plant to communicate with different field devices by utilising FDI packages inside an iDTM-FDI over the FDT communication mechanisms. 

"This is an important moment in the history of industry standards," said Glenn Schulz, managing director of the FDT Group. "As an owner of the FDI standard, the FDT Group has worked to ensure that the FDT and FDI interoperability works not only on paper, but in real-world applications. We are very pleased that CodeWrights could demonstrate its iDTM for FDI on our booth. The FDI standard will be a great benefit to the EDDL based HART, Foundation Fieldbus, and Profibus networks when it is released. Interoperability with FDT ensures that end users can cover the full spectrum of networks and configuration methods in the richly integrated FDT environment."

Fieldbus Foundation used the event to celebrate its 20th anniversary. The current Fieldbus Foundation president and CEO, Richard Timoney, reflected on significant technology milestones and looked at the latest technology developments designed to address key plant automation requirements – such as field device integration, safety instrumented functions and remote operations management. 

The Fieldbus Foundation developed FOUNDATION for Safety Instrumented Functions (SIF) technology to extend fieldbus benefits into plant safety systems. FOUNDATION for SIF meets the requirements of IEC 61508 for functional safety of electrical, electronic and programmable electronic safety-related systems, up to, and including, Safety Integrity Level (SIL) 3; and allows end users to build systems per the IEC 61511 standard covering SIF functional safety in the process industries.

The organisation also developed FOUNDATION for Remote Operations Management (ROM) to provide a unified digital infrastructure for asset management in remote applications. This development enables fieldbus connectivity to remote I/O and industrial wireless protocols, such as WirelessHART and ISA 100.11a, while providing an interface to these technologies using EDDL and function blocks to ensure interoperability with ROM devices.

FOUNDATION and HART 
Timoney also commented on the progress of a potential merger between Fieldbus Foundation and HART Communication Foundation. He said: “We are increasingly confident that a single organisation will offer significant benefits on all levels. End users would receive the combined power of the two complementary technologies providing a full solution that addresses every conceivable aspect of field communications and intelligent device management for the process industries. For suppliers, a single organisation would create efficiencies in resource utilisation, consistency of processes and procedures, and would deliver significant improvements in member services and support.”  

The merger has been endorsed by the presidents of the two organisations and Ted Masters of the HART Communication Foundation, who was also at the event added: “As the study teams conclude their evaluations and due diligence considerations, they will present each board of directors with a report and recommendation. The boards then vote individually whether to proceed or not. Only if both boards vote to proceed will the proposal be put to the member vote in each organisation.” 

Timoney concluded: “A final decision to merge the two organisations will be the result of a thorough and sound analysis and will represent a major step forward in the evolution of intelligent devices and the world of industrial communications. We look forward to concluding the study phase and eagerly await the outcome of the recommendations.”


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