Cooperation to develop an instrumentation device profile

Cooperation will harmonize OPC UA-based field instruments and accelerate development and adoption in automation.

By FieldComm Group August 28, 2022
Image courtesy: Brett Sayles

The OPC Foundation (OPCF) and the FieldComm Group (FCG) announced a collaboration to drive multi-vendor interoperability of instrumentation devices based on OPC UA and the extensions for the field level, named OPC UA FX (Field eXchange). This development will incorporate preliminary work by both organizations. This will ensure that the market will have only one single standard. The aim is to provide an interoperable interface between programmable logic controller (PLC)/distributed control system (DCS) and instrumentation devices, such as transmitters, instruments, and actuators. The solution shall support different industries such as oil & gas, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, energy, water & wastewater, and pulp & paper.

To begin this work, a new OPC UA Instrumentation Working Group is being hosted by the OPC Foundation, under the leadership of the field level communications (FLC) Initiative. Participation in the working group is open to members of the OPC Foundation, as well as corporate entity members of the FieldComm Group. Many well-known manufacturers in the process and factory automation industries are represented within this working group to ensure a uniform, worldwide, and coordinated standard for OPC UA-based instrumentation devices.

In order to achieve inter-vendor interoperability of instrumentation devices, the working group will add to the UAFX base specifications the definition of interfaces and behaviors which are typical for instrumentation devices, including:

  • Commonly used interfaces and data types for the industries mentioned above including functional safety,
  • Diagnostic information specific to instrumentation devices,
  • Operation modes of instrumentation devices,
  • State machines and timing models for instrumentation-specific functionality, where appropriate.

The new instrumentation device profile specification will use PubSub and can be combined with different underlying communication protocols (e.g. UDP/IP) and physical layers (e.g. Ethernet-APL) to support all relevant use cases in discrete and process manufacturing, including safety instrumentation based on OPC UA Safety and deterministic data exchange based on Ethernet time-sensitive networking (TSN), where appropriate.

The Instrumentation Facet shall be complementary to the jointly-owned OPC 30081 / FCG TS10098 “OPC UA for Process Automation Devices (PA-DIM)” and other Companion Specifications. The working group will also strive to manage overlap with other information models already released or under development. Examples include, the models for “Calibration” (a Harmonization sub-group) and “Laboratory and Analytical Devices” (LADS working group).

– Edited from a FieldComm Group by CFE Media and Technology.