Industrial automation solutions have traditionally been differentiated and separated from one another by different incompatible and non-interoperable standards used for communication between devices. As a result, customers have often found themselves locked into proprietary ecosystems. Vendors have had to develop multiple versions of essentially the same product to support these ecosystems. This has been limiting innovation and the integration of new solutions, with customers not being able to optimize their automation solution to its full value.
To address this, ABB, Bosch Rexroth, B&R, CISCO, General Electric, KUKA, NI, Parker Hannifin, Schneider Electric, SEW-EURODRIVE and TTTech have started an open technical collaboration under the umbrella of the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) and the OPC Foundation. This group of companies are aiming for an open, unified, standards-based and interoperable IIoT solution for deterministic and real-time peer-to-peer communication between industrial controllers and to the cloud. The cooperation considers OPC UA TSN as the unified standard for industrial automation and IIoT connectivity. OPC UA TSN is the combination of enhanced OPC UA Publisher/Subscriber (Pub/Sub) technology with the IEEE TSN Ethernet standards. It provides all of the open, standard building blocks required to unify communication for industrial automation and it enables the broad convergence of information technology (IT) and operation technology (OT) that is fundamental to realizing the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industrie 4.0.
The group of companies intends to support OPC UA TSN in their future generations of products. First pilots of these products are already being integrated in an IIC testbed. The group’s objective is to show compatible controller to controller communication between devices from different vendors using OPC UA TSN over standard IT infrastructure. Other companies that share this common vision of unified communication between industrial controllers and to cloud are welcome to join and contribute to this collaboration.