At the SPS Drives show in Nuremberg, the Avnu Alliance (Avnu), Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC), and OPC Foundation took this as an opportunity to announce their collaboration with IT-OT industry leaders to advance industrial device interoperability and to show the progress made in bringing the open, unified communication standard OPC UA over Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) to market.
Leading companies active in these groups have pledged their commitment to ensuring the interoperability of deterministic industrial devices and have made significant investments in achieving this goal.
Rapid developments of these technologies have been made over the last year. Through the support of Avnu, IIC and OPC, the leaders decided to come together at the SPS Drives show 2017, in order to review achievements to date and confirm their commitment to ongoing work into the future.
“With the rapid adoption of TSN as a foundational technology for automation, the community is increasingly relying on an interoperable set of network services and infrastructure. Today, 17 market leaders are reinforcing their commitment to complete a unified communication technology,” said Todd Walter, Avnu Alliance Industrial Segment Chair.
“By leveraging the liaison agreements of Avnu, IIC and OPC Foundation, we’re creating a faster process for the creation of an open, interoperable ecosystem of devices that take advantage of secure, guaranteed latency and delivery for critical traffic. It is exciting to see the fruits of our labour in these milestones.”
The pillars of the announcement were:
Conformance testing advances: Avnu TSN conformance test plans for time synchronisation of industrial devices are ready and available to test houses. A liaison between Avnu and OPC Foundation has been established to meet the needs of the industry with certification of OPC UA TSN products. At last month’s Avnu IIC Interoperability Workshop, more than 20 companies came together to demonstrate interoperability in the IIC TSN Testbed and to advance the conformance tests with the assistance of University of New Hampshire InterOperability Lab, an Avnu-recognised test facility.
Test houses participated in preparation for their future roles to provide full conformance testing for manufacturers of industrial automation equipment.
Standards evolved, more vendors, more devices: The Publish Subscribe extension for OPC UA is now available in release-candidate form, enabling the exchange of OPC UA over UDP connections. This is the prerequisite for running OPC UA TSN. “OPC UA over TSN adds additional capability to the OPC Foundation portfolio, including enhancing controller-to-controller and machine-to-machine communication and information integration. OPC UA addresses the complex requirements of initiatives like Industry 4.0 and the IIoT, providing information integration between devices, applications and the cloud, truly providing the foundation for the much-demanded seamless communication and information integration between IT and OT networks,” said Thomas Burke, OPC Foundation President.
Companies in support of OPC UA TSN were showcasing devices at this year’s SPS IPC Drives, which included: Analog Devices, Belden, Bosch Rexroth, B&R, Cisco, Hilscher, National Instruments, Renesas Electronics, Schneider Electric, and TTTech which saw demonstrations at the OPC Foundation booth and the IIC TSN Testbed itself was exhibited at the TTTech booth.
Demonstrated interoperability between different vendors: Interoperability testing via the IIC TSN Testbed is rapidly progressing with eight hands-on plugfests taking place in the US and Europe over the past 18 months. More than 20 companies have participated in these face-to-face events to test and demonstrate interoperability between devices from various manufacturers and vendors – both collaborative and competitive. Many of the devices are already communicating in OPC UA data format. The results from the Testbed plugfests are fed into the conformance testing plans to ensure that the tests exercise the fundamentals of the architecture.
“Our TSN Testbed stands as a showcase for the business value of TSN. The work coming out of the TSN Testbed is already having a direct impact on suppliers and manufacturers who see the technology as a value-add for their system structures,” said Paul Didier, IIC TSN Testbed Coordinator, Cisco Solution Architect. “Companies are invited to participate in our plugfests to test their own TSN devices for interoperability, including OPC UA Pub-Sub TSN devices.”
As a next step these companies and organisations are committed to driving OPC UA TSN technology forward. By gathering test experiences in a production environment, the group’s plan to develop further conformance testing for interoperability and extend the specifications for use cases that require even more precise timing.