Standards under pressure

Global standards are emerging, driven by Industry 4.0 and IoT concepts and an influx of open standards-based hardware and software.

Industry recognizes the need to modernize. This results in open manufacturing initiatives, which lead to new worldwide standards led by the Industry 4.0 movement. Open standards enable manufacturers to achieve the goal of holistic and adaptive automation system architectures. Germany’s “Industrie 4.0” initiative ignited worldwide cooperative efforts among European countries, China, Japan, and India. The Internet of Things (IoT) is having a big influence on standards for industrial sites, because many commercial application requirements match those for manufacturing: real-time responsiveness, sensing, ruggedness, and open communications.

History has proven the impact: In the computer industry, the transition to open source standards resulted in a significantly larger selection of lower-cost hardware and advanced software that did not require programming. This increased the number of applications possible (again, think spreadsheets) and expanded the industry dramatically. Manufacturers should not hesitate to follow their example.

Increasing numbers of people newly entering the industrial automation industry are already using IoT sensors, cloud computing, and edge computing to create more responsive applications for control and automation. The collaboration of industrial automation veterans with younger professionals who understand the open IoT and computing industry technologies have led to the creation of highly effective solutions.

Manufacturing open-architecture initiatives are driving industrial control and automation standards. See key drivers (below) for some of the more prominent examples.

Key elements and drivers

  • MTConnect. The MTConnect standard (ANSI/MTC1.4-2018) has a semantic vocabulary for manufacturing equipment to provide structured, contextualized data with no proprietary format.
  • OPC Foundation. The OPC Foundation OPC UA semantic models and schema from industry organizations further global standardization interoperability (sensor to enterprise). It can be communicated with most communication methods, including modern industrial protocols, Ethernet, cellular, and wireless.
  • Industry 4.0 for Process – Modular Production. The application of Industry 4.0 concepts to improve process automation is driven by NAMUR, ZVEI, VDI, VDMA, and ProcessNet. The “module type package” (MTP) is a central concept for a standardized, nonproprietary description of modules for process automation.
  • RAMI 4.0 Reference Architectural Model. RAMI 4.0 gives companies a framework for developing future products and business models. It is designed as a three-dimensional map showing companies how to approach the deployment of Industry 4.0 in a structured manner.
  • The Open Group’s Open Process Automation Forum. The Open Group’s OPAF formally launched in November 2016 by publishing the first standard in a series. OPAF continues to advance. The group is focused on a multivendor, standards-based, open, secure, and interoperable process control architecture.

Impact for industry

  • Open standards broaden the number of solutions available to increase productivity, profits, and competitiveness.
  • The influx of new technology suppliers brings more responsive and cost-effective solutions.
  • Increased ease-of-use empowers users to focus on improving their specific manufacturing processes.

For ISA members and leaders

  • Embrace and become knowledgeable about open manufacturing concepts and initiatives.
  • Foster active participation, leadership, and knowledge of new standards to deliver programs for members to apply the right technologies to increase profits and efficiency.
  • Participate in the integration of enterprise computing, operations technology, and automation standards.

This article is part of September/October 2020 InTech—the ISA 75th Anniversary Special Edition