FDT IIoT ecosystem built to connect, empower intelligent industrial enterprise

Easier digital transformation and innovative industrial automation business models are expected to result from the FDT Group’s platform independent FDT 3.0 – IIoT Server (FITS) platform to help with control system integration in automation supplier and end-user communities in the process, hybrid and discrete markets.

By FDT Group June 10, 2020


Learning Objectives

  • FDT Group releases FDT 3.0 standard and related tools.
  • FDT 3.0 – IIoT Server (FITS) platform supports digital transformation and business-models for industrial automation and control system integration and industrial networks.
  • FDT Group is submitting the standard to U.S., Chinese, and international standards organizations.

FDT Group launched of the new platform independent FDT 3.0 – IIoT Server (FITS) platform to support “digital transformation and innovative business-models for the new era of industrial automation.” FDT Group plans to offer the architecture to standards bodies such as IEC, ANSI/ISA and GB/T (China).

FDT Group, an independent, international, not-for-profit industry association based in Heverlee, Belgium, made the announcement on June 3. The new standard intends to help with industrial networking and control system integration for the automation supplier and end user communities in the process, hybrid and discrete markets.

Developer tool kit for control system integration

In addition to the FDT 3.0 standard that fully describes the FITS platform, FDT Group released the

FDT 3.0 Developer Toolkits to help the vendor community begin development efforts with an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) to easily create and customize next-generation, cross-platform FDT 3.0 solutions.

“The new FITS architecture is a powerhouse that is the enabler for scalable, remote access business solutions and services that are needed now to meet changing market demands,” said Glenn Schulz, managing director, FDT Group. “By delivering the FDT FITS specification and platform independent toolkits simultaneously, we are enabling the immediate deployment of this new technology. To meet the digital transformational needs for next generation smart plants and factories, the FITS architecture is scalable from skid to cloud, sits at a peer level with the control system and integrates all industrial control networks. This approach provides secure, remote access to live device and network data across the enterprise without PLC/DCS [programmable logic controller/distributed control system] host intervention. While the FITS standard is fully browser based, we have also built in a full OPC UA [OPC Unified Architecture] server to provide an industry standard conduit for IT and OT information integration.”

Suppliers of industrial automation systems and devices want to seize emerging opportunities for Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solutions. They’re seeking to enhance their product offerings with standards-based, platform-independent, information-driven business models for the new era of automation. The FDT 3.0 standard will accelerate the evolutionary journey into the Fourth Industrial Revolution by enabling an ecosystem of FDT-based solutions to meet demands for IIoT and Industrie 4.0 applications.

Control system integration: FDT 3.0

FDT Group, founded by a group of automation manufacturers during the Third Industrial Revolution, developed FDT technology as an open, integration standards-based solution to fix interoperability issues for control system and device end users. The standard is “widely deployed as the de-facto integration standard providing end users with the freedom to choose systems/devices that best fit their application and seamlessly connect and communicate independent of the chosen vendor or network,” FDT group said.

The FDT standard has evolved from a single-user, desktop environment (FDT 1.x) to a distributed, multi-user client/server approach (FDT 2.x) with OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA) compatibility for enterprise-wide integration and asset management. The newly launched FDT 3.0 standard builds on prior versions with enhancements empowering an FDT Server embedded with OPC UA and web servers.  The server delivers universal device integration and a data-centric platform to mobilize the industrial workforce with modern and diverse deployment options, including cloud, enterprise, edge, on premise, and single-user desktop environments.

In 2016, FDT approved the transformation journey into the Fourth Industrial Revolution to empower an ecosystem of FDT IIoT-ready solutions. FDT 3.0 was developed based on industry-driven feedback and delivered by a collaborative team of experts in the industry.

Schulz said, “Aimed at transforming manufacturing practices, FITS enables a cloud-based asset management solution with built-in security, scalable deployment, IT/OT integration, universal and backwards compatibility, and a single FDThub repository for FDT Device Type Managers.”

FDT IIoT ecosystem: Server, desktop, components

The FDT IIoT ecosystem consists of FDT Server, FDT Desktop and FDT DTM components, which are deployable by using the IDE tools, known as Common Components. The advantage, FDT said, is that system and device suppliers can take a well-established standard they know and easily create and customize standards-based, data-centric, cross-platform FDT IIoT solutions – expanding offerings to meet requirements for next-generation industrial control applications. Each solution auto-enables OPC UA integration and allows the development team to focus on value-added features that differentiate their products, including WebUI and App support. FDT Desktop applications are backwards compatible supporting the existing install base.

FDT 3.0 specification license agreements and developer toolkits are available on the FDT website, www.fdtgroup.org. An IO-Link Interpreter DTM is under development along with FDT communication annexes for HART, Profibus, IO-Link and CIP networks slated for release in the second half of 2020.

– Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media, mhoske@cfemedia.com.

KEYWORDS: Control system design, control system integration


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What is FDT Group AISBL? 

The FDT Group AISBL is an international non-profit corporation consisting of leading worldwide member companies active in industrial automation and manufacturing. The major purpose of the FDT Group is to provide an open standard for enterprise-wide network and asset integration, providing automation architectures connect and communicate sensor to cloud for the process, hybrid and factory automation markets. FDT Technology serves manufacturers and end users, with advancements such as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industry 4.0 tools to enable modern asset integration and access to performance data for visualizing crucial operational problems. Around the world, end users, manufacturers, universities, and research organizations are working together to develop the technology; provide development tools, support, and training; coordinate field trials and demonstrations; and enable product interoperability.