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Empowering innovative business models with a standardised IIoT ecosystem

22 September 2020

Glenn Schulz, managing director at the FDT Group, explains how and why the FDT standard is helping to support the digital transformation for manufacturers.

For the global industrial community, implementation of FDT Group’s standard is a forward-looking strategy for the new era of automation. FDT® technology supports digital transformation for manufacturers with an open, enterprise-wide IIoT integration platform empowered with new, built-in features mobilising real-time remote operations for the current COVID pandemic environment. The goal is to expand secure access to critical device data in order to increase productivity and create a safer workplace.

Enabling digital transformation
FDT has evolved from a single-user, desktop environment to a distributed, multi-user client/server approach for enterprise-wide integration and asset management. The recently released FDT 3.0 standard builds on this solid foundation and delivers a new, feature-rich FDT IIoT Ecosystem, including the FDT Server natively integrated with OPC UA and Web Servers, as well as new FDT Device Type Managers™ (FDT/DTMs™) empowering the industrial workforce with a webUI to mobilize remote operations. The standard also provides device developers with an industry-exclusive feature – automatic platform independence.

The FDT transformational solution unlocks universal device integration and a data-centric platform with modern and diverse deployment options, including cloud, enterprise, edge, on premise, and single-user desktop environments. Key to this development was creation of remote access and mobility features utilising standard web browsers. The move from a physical device to a remote, virtualised device improves asset management practices, allowing end-users to configure, diagnose and maintain devices remotely.

The modernised DTM environment inherent in FDT 3.0 also transforms the device developer world. Indeed, the new standard makes it easier to create compliant FDT/DTMs than ever before. Thanks to the DTM Common Components, DTMs are automatically compatible with OPC Unified Architecture (UA) – no additional coding required – and compliant with the NAMUR NE 107 status recommendations for predictive maintenance. FDT 3.0 DTMs automatically make device data available via the OPC UA server embedded on the FDT Server. This enables innovative capabilities such as a data-driven approach to maintenance and integration of live plant data with MES and ERP systems and asset management as service.

Advancing business innovation
According to FDT Group member companies, ‘the sky is the limit’ with the FDT 3.0 standard and new modernised development environment. Today, automation suppliers can easily jump start development to enhance their product offerings with essential, standards-based, platform-independent, information-driven business models. FDT 3.0 enables open, secure and scalable skid-to-cloud architectures and sensor-to-cloud integration. It also includes robust, inherent security features that eliminate the need for vendors to develop their own detailed security models.

Release of the FDT 3.0 standard has key implications for both the supplier and end-user communities:

• Suppliers no longer have to install a driver on the customer’s PC to demonstrate their product. Rather, they can show the features of a device utilising a server on the cloud.
• With the new FDThub™, all DTMs are immediately available from an online repository. Customers no longer have to search for the right DTMs for their project.
• End-users can install a single instance of an FDT Server and make it accessible across their facility for deployment. They do not need to install multiple FDT applications.
• All real-time data from the installed devices is automatically available through OPC UA to any enterprise level application such as MRP, ERP, dash boards and CMMS applications.

Conclusion
FDT Group’s updated standard simplifies the move to IIoT and Industrie 4.0 for both Greenfield and Brownfield applications for all process, hybrid and discrete applications. It is the only device configuration standard providing built-in mobility, native OPC UA integration, robust security, and platform independence. These and other features of the technology will transform the outlook for automation stakeholders around the world.

To explore innovative business models empowered by FDT, please download our white paper at www.fdtgroup.org/innovation.


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