Power of one

Neighborhoods, project teams, and meal planning ... diversity works great with these and so many other things. Having a diversity of industrial software architectures, however, offers few advantages to manufacturers or to their stakeholders. With multiple architectures, platforms, and data structures, it takes too much effort to translate data from one area of an organization to another and bac...

08/01/2004


Neighborhoods, project teams, and meal planning ... diversity works great with these and so many other things. Having a diversity of industrial software architectures, however, offers few advantages to manufacturers or to their stakeholders. With multiple architectures, platforms, and data structures, it takes too much effort to translate data from one area of an organization to another and back again. People lose track of information. Opportunities are lost.

Concurrence can create beauty. How much easier was process control with some agreement on 4-20 mA, rather than everyone setting their own measurement ranges? The vision expanded to fieldbuses, allowing, eventually, some interchangeability of devices within the same industrial networks. Even more successfully, OPC Foundation's OPC-based servers allow data flow among applications without '150 drivers' translating from one to another; its 'Unified Architecture' extends that idea. ISA's S95 creates a logical model for information sharing between production and enterprise. And, MIMOSA's OSA-EAI (Open System Architecture for Enterprise Application Integration) standardizes asset registry, condition monitoring, and asset health and reliability information.

OPC Foundation, MIMOSA, and ISA have been working together to create an 'Open O&M for Manufacturing' (Operations & Maintenance) harmonized architecture framework so applications across manufacturing, processes, and maintenance can freely exchange information to move closer to condition-based operations. In separate but synergistic activities, OMAC—a group whose name means Open Modular Architecture Controls—is in dialog with OPC Foundation and World Batch Forum to help more efficiently advance this and related causes.

Defining an architecture that all parties can agree upon and migrating toward it allows everyone to reap the power of one structure more quickly. It avoids the need to 'bet the company' on picking one vendor's method, hoping that one becomes dominant. Over decades, market forces might achieve the same thing, but in the meantime a whole lot of productivity gains would be lost on 'wait and see' rather than 'embrace and enhance.'

The 'one framework' idea has support from major vendors, such as ABB, Emerson Process Management, Invensys, Microsoft, PeopleSoft, Rockwell Automation, Yokogawa, and many others. Even more importantly, the approach has gained support from major end-users in refining, utilities, and manufacturing industries as well as the military services. They understand that one framework will free resources to add value to applications. It's like adding cars to a fast-moving train, rather than building a new set of tracks. Read online for links and quiz.

MHoske@cfemedia.com


Here’s a light-hearted quiz question to test your views about the “Power of one,” the idea of one agreed-upon architecture, platform, and data structure.

If end-users require that software vendors embrace a single software framework, the result will:

A. Create additional interoperability for applications and data flow between them.
B. End islands of automation, unify information silos, and bring about levels of productivity only imagined previously.
C. A &B.
D. Further an anti-competitive plot designed to create more work for everyone.
E. None of the above… and I’m going to email you at MHoske@cfemedia.com , to tell you what I think.


Among other companies supporting the “one framework” concept are The DEI Group, DLI Engineering Corp., and Indus International.

Below are links to companies and organizations mentioned above.

www.abb.com
www.dei-group.com
www.dliengineering.com
www.emersonprocess.com
www.indus.com
www.isa.org
www.microsoft.com
www.mimosa.org
www.omac.org
www.opcfoundation.org
www.peoplesoft.com
www.rockwell.com
www.wbf.org
www.wonderware.com
www.yokogawa.com





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