Endress+Hauser's Open Integration Program Aims to Boost Multi-Vendor System Interoperability

  • January 30, 2017
  • Endress+Hauser, Inc.
  • Feature
Endress+Hauser's Open Integration Program Aims to Boost Multi-Vendor System Interoperability
Endress+Hauser's Open Integration Program Aims to Boost Multi-Vendor System Interoperability

By Bill Lydon, Editor, Automation.com

In today’s industrial world, one of the the most annoying hindrances to effective system integration is the lack of interoperability between products from different vendors. It can be frustrating for engineers and management alike, when integration requires time and money-consuming special configuration in order to make the equipment talk. Yet, efforts are being made to close this gap in the industry. One such example is Endress+Hauser’s Open Integration Program, a recently-launched effort designed to increase multi-vendor system integrity.

I first learned about the Open Integration Program in the early stages of its development in a meeting with Peter Rippen, Director at Endress+Hauser.   We discussed the issues faced by system integrators today, and how these issues drove the Endress+Hauser effort, in order to improve field project efficiency and profitability. Rippen explained how Endress+Hauser saw that established conformity and interoperability tests -- performed by communication standards organizations including HART, PROFIBUS, FOUNDATION Fieldbus, EtherNet/IP or PROFINET and open integration standards such as FDT, EDD and FDI – still produced products that required the costly special configurations in order to achieve interoperability.  Without knowledge of how to get these multi-vendor products to work right off the bat, there has been a great deal of unnecessary engineering and system commissioning expense and time wasted, at the beginning of a project, to create these configurations to integrate the equipment. 

The Endress+Hauser Open Integration Program was designed by working closely with partners, to make sure that relevant products can be combined and integrated efficiently with high system integrity.  The goal is to accomplish this efficient integration by performing joint validation that goes beyond the established conformity and interoperability tests.  So far, Endress+Hauser and their partners have defined numerous combinations of reference topologies and test products for applications in industries including Waste & Water, Metals, Power & Energy, Life Science, Pulp & Paper and Shipbuilding industries.  This has enabled them to provide customers, from all these suppliers, with concrete and validated suggestions for the automation of their process plant.

Endress+Hauser & Partners Cooperating for Interoperability

In order to achieve the goal for operators of process plants to integrate multi-vendor devices and components into automation systems, Endress+Hauser has worked with a number of partners, including AUMA Riester, Flowserve, HIMA Paul Hildebrandt, Honeywell Process Solutions, Mitsubishi Electric, Pepperl+Fuchs, Phoenix Contact, Rockwell Automation, R. STAHL and Schneider Electric.  Further, Endress+Hauser is currently seeking still more companies to join the Open Integration Program and help advance the efficient integration effort.

The Endress+Hauser Partner Program Open Integration strives to ensure the easy integration of devices and components of different manufacturers into automation systems.

What Are Reference Topologies?

The necessary cooperation starts by creating what are known as reference topologies—think customer-specific roadmaps to full integration--which are worked out jointly by the Open Integration partners. Each reference topology is tailored to the customers’ applications, configuration tools, and field communication technologies used in the integration process.  Depending on the industrial segment and target market, the focus incorporates requirements such as availability, redundancy, and/or explosion protection, followed by the selection of system components and field instruments, in order to achieve the goal. These exact combinations are then tested and documented before being published as a joint recommendation, giving customers concrete and successfully validated suggestions for automating their plant with confidence.  The Endress+Hauser Open Integration Program works to surpass established conformity and interoperability tests by separate standards organizations, but goes even further than that. In order to maintain sustainable operation, the program also works with partners to facilitate regular retesting, ensuring constant interoperability.

Bill's Thoughts & Observations

The leadership role taken by Endress+Hauser, in bringing their partners together, illustrates the company’s solid commitment to the industry, as well as to the mutually beneficial efforts towards building better multivendor integration and quality engineering practices.  The Open Integration Partner program could very well reduce organizational risks for companies, and is a logical step for ensuring the success of multi-vendor process control and automation projects.

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