Open Integration, ‘Digital Chain’ May Solve IIoT Device Management Challenges

Open Integration, ‘Digital Chain’ May Solve IIoT Device Management Challenges
Open Integration, ‘Digital Chain’ May Solve IIoT Device Management Challenges

Users understand the need to apply intelligent field devices to achieve efficiencies and remain competitive. Users also require more efficient ways to deal with the reality of multivendor systems and IIoT devices. Suppliers with a strong commitment to serving customers are embracing open concepts to meet those customer needs.

The Open Integration Partner program, initiated by Endress+Hauser and now including 35 participating companies, seeks to improve the quality and efficiency of device integration and lifecycle maintenance of control and automation systems by focusing on simple, fast, and manufacturer-independent integration of components and devices into automation systems.  The group held its first physical meeting in June 2019 at Endress+Hauser facilities in Reinach, Switzerland, then took a year off during the pandemic.

The Open Integration Partner Meeting occurred again—virtually this time—on June 17, 2021.

The virtual event was an impressive follow-up to the first, during which users made it clear that process control industry users want open, interoperable systems instead of proprietary solutions. The cooperation partners this year included Auma Riester, Bürkert, Festo, Flowserve, Hima Paul Hildebrandt, Honeywell Process Solutions, Mitsubishi Electric, Pepperl + Fuchs, Phoenix Contact, Rockwell Automation, Schneider Electric, Softing Industrial Automation, and Turck.

Vendors have their own data models for intelligent devices, asset management systems and other software.  The Open Integration initiative is focused on creating standard data models for devices so users can achieve greater efficiency and productivity. This is analogous to what happened in the computer-aided design (CAD) market years ago, when each supplier had its own platform and data models for creating CAD drawings: Major users, particularly in the automotive industry, demanded standardization of the models and eventually this drove the industry to open standards.

The meeting included a presentation by BASF on leveraging DIN SPEC 91406, the standard for automatic identification of physical objects and information on physical objects in IT systems, particularly in Internet of Things (IoT) systems. DIN, the German Institute for Standardization, wrangles a consortium of asset owners and operators working on DIN SPEC 91406. Their goal is to achieve standardized identification of physical objects using  2D codes, such as QR codes, that are readable by mobile devices and can be used to retrieve all relative information about a field device.   

All information relating to the physical object can be identified in various IT systems including assembly, maintenance, inspection, repair, and disassembly. Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) can link all information such as drawings, operating instructions, and spare parts lists to this ID, enabling users to quickly access all relevant information. Test, calibration, certification and other documentation can also be electronically linked to digital records for each device. 

Using these IDs, everyone can exchange information about a physical device throughout its lifecycle, creating a digital chain of secure electronically access. This one-to-one ID is therefore the prerequisite for accessing and maintaining information in the physical object’s digital twin throughout its lifecycle. This is particularly important for physical objects embedded in IIoT systems.

Industrial use cases for a digital chain of secure data can include on-site access to installation information or safety instructions for construction, operations and maintenance personnel, and access to repair instructions or spare parts lists for maintenance. Engineering can use digital chains to secure research of technical specifications on existing equipment, comparisons of OEM offerings, or downloads of 3D equipment surface models.


Open Integration Program

DIN SPEC 91406 - Automatic identification of physical objects and information on physical objects in IT systems, particularly IoT systems

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 was a member of a 5 person corporate skunk works for two years that designed an innovative  Building Automation System.    He was also a product manager for a multimillion-dollar controls and automation product line and cofounder/president of an industrial control software company.

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