ODVA Supports Process Industry by Incorporating NE 107 & PA-DIM Data Format in EtherNet/IP Protocol

ODVA Supports Process Industry by Incorporating NE 107 & PA-DIM Data Format in EtherNet/IP Protocol
ODVA Supports Process Industry by Incorporating NE 107 & PA-DIM Data Format in EtherNet/IP Protocol

The ODVA announced another step towards supporting the process automation industry during the Hannover Messe/Fair April 17, 2023, adding NE 107 & PA-DIM Compatible Data Formats to the EtherNet/IP Specification. The process device profiles are unique to ODVA EtherNet/IP that will have data formats conforming to PA-DIM & NE 107 standards. ODVA certified products based on the EtherNet/IP industrial network protocol can take advantage of the new process device profiles available for Coriolis flow, electromagnetic flow, vortex flow, standard pressure and scaled pressure devices.   

Process end users can now take advantage of EtherNet/IP industrial network devices that communication diagnostics, such as NAMUR NE 107 status signals, and improved alignment with the Process Automation Device Information Model (PA-DIM). ODVA process device profiles are unique to the EtherNet/IP protocol are made up of process measurement value objects for variables such as current pressure, level, flow, etc., process totalized value objects that track cumulative data totals such as total flow, and process device diagnostics objects.

Because DCS systems are based on proprietary networks, EtherNet/IP field devices incorporating NE 107 & PA-DIM compatible data formats in the future will be interfaced using OPC UA client/servers leveraging the OPC UA companion specification for CIP.  DCS controllers that have EtherNet/IP protocol field interfaces may be able to connect EtherNet/IP process field devices and normalize information into their proprietary data structure at the edge.

EtherNet/IP in the process industries SIG

This is part of the ongoing work by the ODVA Special Interest Group for EtherNet/IP in the Process Industries that seeks to fulfill the vision of the Optimization of Process Integration (OPI) by leveraging the inherent strengths of EtherNet/IP, encompassing existing industry standards, and augmenting EtherNet/IP’s strengths with enhancements to the ODVA Specifications. 

OPC UA EtherNet/IP device data access

In the future process control industry devices and systems based on other industrial network protocols will be able to access EtherNet/IP NE107 & PA-DIM information using OPC UA including Smart Sensors, DCS, PLCs, process controllers, historians, asset management, maintenance management, ERP, and cloud applications.  A joint ODVA/ OPC Foundation working group is developing an OPC UA companion specification that can be used with OPC UA client/server software and EtherNet/IP communications driver. The OPC UA companion specification for CIP will simplify the challenge of configuring OPC Client/Servers and gateways to access and use EtherNet/IP NE 170 and PA-DIM process control data. The OPC UA companion specification for CIP will map CIP objects to the appropriate OPC UA information models and profiles and vice-versa. Sending data to and from the cloud from EtherNet/IP to OPC UA will be accomplished by providing useful information including discovery, identity, diagnostics, status, parameter and much more from CIP devices.


The NAMUR NE 107 standard organizes the health status from devices in a uniform way regardless of the type of device.  For example, the status signal summarizes the health of the device based on device self-diagnostics and is displayed as one of four categories: Failure, Out of Specification, Maintenance Required; Function Check.

NE 107 was created by NAMUR an international association representing the interests of users of automation and digitalization technologies and does not have any vendor member members. Membership of NAMUR is open to companies of the process industries, provided that these companies are:

  • Companies in the process industry and related industries which operate process engineering systems and hold responsibility as operators of these systems;
  • Businesses providing technical support in the area of automation technology to companies of the process industry, also without having operator responsibility, provided that they are not members of a manufacturers' association;
  • Legal entities which are mainly active in the technical and scientific field in the area of automation technology, including universities, associations, societies or federal institutions or agencies.

Process automation device information model

Major standards development and end user organizations serving the process automation industry including ISA100 WCI, ODVA, PROFIBUS/PROFINET International, NAMUR, VDMA, and ZVEI in August 2022 announced ongoing collaboration work on the specification for a standardized Process Automation Device Information Model (PA-DIM®). Participating organizations plan to share ownership of the specification and collaboratively participate in the PA-DIM working group, hosted at the FieldComm Group, creating enhancements and extensions to the PA-DIM specification.

The Process Automation Device Information Model is a specification that allows for protocol agnostic communication of common process automation instrument parameters, including semantic IDs as defined by IEC 61987, using OPC UA information modeling techniques. Eliminating automation protocol dependencies simplifies the integration of IT and OT systems. Including semantic device information enables unambiguous machine-to-machine (M2M) communication. Fieldbus-specific implementations are converted into the address space of the PA-DIM Information Model. The Process Automation Device Information Model is explained at this link.

Products using PA-DIM can easily support the NAMUR Open Architecture (NOA) use cases including automated as built, unique identification, device dimensioning, multivariable possibility check, read multivariable process values, device life cycle backup, health monitoring and diagnosis.

Dr. Al Beydoun, President & Executive Director of ODVA noted: “ODVA is pleased to support the PA-DIM profile to enable greater information standardization within process automation, which will allow for more seamless data analysis and prognostics. End users of EtherNet/IP networks will be able to leverage PA-DIM to move data from the field to the cloud and to realize improved data standardization across networks.”

Thoughts and observations

Industrial control & automation has yet to achieve the multivendor interoperability available in IT, commercial, and IoT with the issue of high reliability & availability discussed as the main sticking point. Cooperations by industrial network protocol standards groups to align data formats is a step in the right direction to allow users to interface information from disparate industrial networks using OPC UA Client/Servers with appropriate industrial network protocol drivers such as ISA100 WCI, ODVA, and PROFIBUS/PROFINET International, NAMUR NOA.

The dominant process industry Distributed Control Systems (DSC) are proprietary systems using proprietary industrial networking to achieve high-performance & system availability.  Industrial protocol groups continue to refine and improve offerings to provide an alternative for process industry users with gated ecosystems of suppliers providing products certified by industrial network protocols organization.

OPC UA has become a fundamental technology for users to integrate multivendor systems into practical industrial operational systems.  The OPC Foundation globally available UA Cloud Library co-developed with the Clean Energy and Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CESMII) has grown to over 250 active users, over 65 information models and all VDMA companion specifications to simplify and increase field application engineering efficiency.

About The Author

Bill Lydon brings more than 10 years of writing and editing expertise to Automation.com, plus more than 25 years of experience designing and applying technology in the automation and controls industry. Lydon started his career as a designer of computer-based machine tool controls; in other positions, he applied programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and process control technology. Working at a large company, Lydon served a two-year stint as part of a five-person task group, that designed a new generation building automation system including controllers, networking and supervisory & control software. He also designed software for chiller and boiler plant optimization. Bill was product manager for a multimillion-dollar controls and automation product line and later cofounder and president of an industrial control software company.

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