Continued Evolution for Process Automation

Continued Evolution for Process Automation
Continued Evolution for Process Automation
The Process Automation industry has been heavily impacted by the influx of new technologies and, as we enter the next decade, several organizations are providing roadmaps in order to help process automation companies enable the best practices to leverage these technologies and drive competitiveness and productivity forward.


One effort focusing on the application of Industry 4.0 concepts in order to improve process automation, is being driven by NAMUR, ZVEI, VDI, VDMA, and ProcessNet. The “Module Type Package” (MTP) is a key concept for
standardized non-proprietary description of modules for process automation. The Process INDUSTRIE 4.0: The Age of Modular Production Overview white paper defines a common language for the nomenclature modules.

The structure of modular plants described is, in many ways, a recasting of ISA88 and ISA95 - with automation using plug-and-produce models that are vendor- independent descriptions of the information needed to integrate modules. For this, the data generated during the engineering of a module are provided by the module manufacturer, in an XML-file called a Module Type Package (MTP). The MTP includes many attributes including alarm management, safety & security, process control, HMI, and maintenance diagnostics.
This modular production initiative, started in addition to the Industry 4.0 for Process effort, addresses common complaints users have, where vendors deliver various pieces of equipment that do not directly and intelligently communicate with control, automation, asset management, and business systems.
The Industry 4.0 for Process effort describes smart-networked sensors as a foundational part of the Industry 4.0 process architecture. These sensors will communicate with controls, and automation systems and simultaneously and directly with business systems. This effort, the application of Industry 4.0 concepts to improve process automation, is being driven by NAMUR and VDI/ VDE in collaboration with several prominent leaders in the industry, including ABB, BASF, Bayer Technology Services, Bilfinger Maintenance, Endress+Hauser, Evonik, Festo, Krohne, Lanxess, Siemens, and Fraunhofer ICT. The concepts are expressed in NAMUR’s  Process Sensor 4.0 Roadmap, which describes smart- networked sensors as a foundational part of the Industry 4.0 process architecture.

RAMI 4.0 Reference Architectural Model

The RAMI 4.0 Reference Architectural Model provides  companies a framework for developing future products and business models. RAMI 4.0 is designed as a three-dimensional map showing these companies how to approach the deployment of Industry 4.0 in a structured manner. A major goal of RAMI 4.0 is to make sure that all participants involved in Industry 4.0 discussions and activities have a common framework with which to understand each other. The RAMI 4.0 framework is intended to enable standards to be identified to determine whether there is any need for additions and amendments. This model is complemented by the Industry 4.0 components. Both results are described in DIN SPEC 91345 (Reference Architecture Model Industrie 4.0). DIN represents German interests within the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Today, roughly 85 percent of all national standard projects are European or international in origin.
Putting the RAMI 4.0 model in perspective, in the glossary of the VDI/VDE-GMA 7.21 Industrie 4.0 technical committee, a reference model is defined as a model that can be generally applied and can be used to derive specific models. There are many examples of this in the field of technology. The most well- known is the seven-layer ISO/OSI model, which is used as a reference model for network protocols. The advantage of using such models is a shared understanding of the function of every layer/element and the defined interfaces between the layers.

The Open Group, the Open Process Automation Forum

The Open Group’s Open Process Automation Forum (OPAF), formally launched November of 2016, continues to advance since it published the first standard in a series. OPAF is focused on developing a multivendor standards-based, open, secure, and interoperable process control architecture. The Open Group has a track record of success in this area with the FACE standard. This standard has led to the deployment of higher function software designed to lower lifecycle cost. The defense avionics industry is one prime example of one who has transitioned from a proprietary solution to fully open systems architecture.

This article is part of Bill Lydon’s Top Trends, his Automation & Control Trends Report for 2020-2021. Download the full report here. Bill Lydon's Automation & Control Trends Report 2020-2021 reports on ten trends shaping the automation, control and instrumentation, and provides lists of related articles for each trend. This annual report is from, a subsidiary of ISA--The International Society of Automation.  ‚Äč

About The Author

Lydon brings more than 10 years of writing and editing expertise to, 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. In addition to working at various large companies (e.g., Sundstrand, Johnson Controls, and Wago), Lydon served a two-year stint as part of a five-person task group, where he designed controls, automation systems, and software for chiller and boiler plant optimization. He was also a product manager for a multimillion-dollar controls and automation product line and president of an industrial control software company.

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