How to use open process automation today; see video

Part 2 of a four-part series on OPAF progress provides key updates in Open Process Automation Standards (O-PAS), field trials, guidance, technologies, strategies and system integrator platforms, as explained by two longtime OPAF participants.

By Mark T. Hoske February 23, 2024
Courtesy: Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering

 

Learning Objectives

  • Understand key updates from Open Process Automation Forum (OPAF), including field trials and tests for distributed control node interoperability; see short video about how COPA system integrators are helping with OPAF-aligned hardware, software and system integration; an O-PAS adoption guide is underway.
  • Learn about upcoming O-PAS conformance certification, IT benefits for OT applications of open process automation, and see how the buyer side of the open process automation market is moving, as shared with Control Engineering at the 2024 ARC Industry Forum.

Open process automation field trial, standards insights

  • Open Process Automation Forum (OPAF) progress includes field trials and tests for distributed control node interoperability; see short video about how COPA system integrators are helping with OPAF-aligned hardware, software and device integration; an O-PAS adoption guide is underway.
  • O-PAS conformance certification extends IT benefits for OT applications of open process automation. See how the buyer side of the open process automation market is moving, as shared with Control Engineering at the 2024 ARC Industry Forum.

Field trials and tests are underway for Open Process Automation Forum (OPAF) distributed control node interoperability; OPAF-aligned hardware, software and help are available; and an adoption guide is underway.

Don Bartusiak, president, Collaborative Systems Integration (Figure 1), updated Control Engineering with OPAF progress, including a video explanation; see link. Bartusiak, previously with ExxonMobil, remains involved with OPAF. His system integration company, part of the COPA group, will be going to market with O-PAS-based systems. (COPA stands for Coalition for Open Process Automation.)

Yokogawa is working with ExxonMobil on a field trial, training and prototypes for BP, Equinor and three companies that haven’t yet made the news public, Bartusiak said.

A year ago, February 2023, v2.1 of the O-PAS standard was published and is free for a 90-day evaluation from The Open Group Library.

Figure 1: Don Bartusiak, president, Collaborative Systems Integration, updated Control Engineering with OPAF progress at the 2024 ARC Industry Forum, including a video explanation of the COPA control platform.

Figure 1: Don Bartusiak, president, Collaborative Systems Integration, updated Control Engineering with OPAF progress at the 2024 ARC Industry Forum, including a video explanation of the COPA control platform. Courtesy: Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering

An O-PAS Adoption Guide, targeting stakeholder groups (users, system integrators and service providers), will include a frequently asked questions (FAQ) section about risks and what common concerns are with open process automation.

Upcoming O-PAS conformance certification called a milestone

The OPAS conformance certification mechanism offers verification tests and is a milestone in the OPAF process.

In February, Intel announced it passed the O-PAS system management DCN conformance, for Asrock Industrial, a computer manufacturer. Three other suppliers are in line for verification testing, a “quite significant” development, Bartusiak said.

OPAF version 3 of the standard is being drafted, adding System Orchestration Part 9, which is a snapshot with clear guidance on what the standard requires. Part 9 is publicly available now.

IT benefits for OT applications of open process automation

The IT world is good at creating standards for interoperability, Bartusiak said. Although many automation technologies developed over a long time, standardized practices finally are being applied to OT technologies and are being integrated in open process automation applications (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Diagram of the COPA control platform demonstrates the open process automation idea of extreme interoperability with multiple vendors’ software being deploy to multiple other vendors’ hardware. Regulatory controls were distributed among three runtimes from two suppliers to two distributed control nodes from different suppliers. Also O-PAS module type package (MTP) integration is shown on the right, part of the COPA booth at the 2024 ARC Industry Forum.

Figure 2: Diagram of the COPA control platform demonstrates the open process automation idea of extreme interoperability with multiple vendors’ software being deploy to multiple other vendors’ hardware. Regulatory controls were distributed among three runtimes from two suppliers to two distributed control nodes from different suppliers. Also O-PAS module type package (MTP) integration is shown on the right, part of the COPA booth at the 2024 ARC Industry Forum. Courtesy: Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering

OASIS produced a section on cloud system management. Also, application portability and container technologies for software are addressed.

COPA is working on prototypes and training for Equinor and BP. COPA also is working on three estimates for operating companies considering initial costs and total cost of ownership for O-PAS-based systems and benefits.

“We’ve never had these quantifications before,” Bartusiak said. “Based on actual customers, the business case for action is even more compelling.” (Learn more in Part 1 in this OPAF series: “New cost analysis: Open process automation saves 52% versus DCS.”)

Figure 3: Hardware and software vendors represented in the COPA booth at 2024 ARC Industry Forum include Inductive Automation, Codesys, Smar, ASRock, SuperMicro, Phoenix Contact and Stahl, at the 2024 ARC Industry Forum COPA booth.

Figure 3: Hardware and software vendors represented in the COPA booth at 2024 ARC Industry Forum include Inductive Automation, Codesys, Smar, ASRock, SuperMicro, Phoenix Contact and Stahl, at the 2024 ARC Industry Forum COPA booth. Courtesy: Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering

Incremental improvements, better performance, a better model

OPAF member Dave Emerson, vice president USTC (U.S. Technology Center), Yokogawa Corporation of America, also told Control Engineering about the compelling financial benefits of O-PAS over the process automation lifecycle. Emerson is OPAF co-chair of the enterprise architecture working group (EAWG).

Emerson said more benefits can be added over the useful life of a project with partial system upgrades. “We have worked with different customers, many different companies, not only the oil and gas industry.”

Benefits are greater with the IT model that keeps refreshing hardware and applications, compared to longtime OT practices of not upgrading for 20 or 30 years.

The ExxonMobil field trial expected to be running this year has created a flurry of interest. The certification program also is causing greater interest among suppliers, Emerson said.

The buyer side of the open process automation market is moving

Bartusiak said that after the Shell and Petronas test systems last year, more are willing to take a chance with a small, safe O-PAS-based production system. The buyer side of the market is moving. A year ago, the most frequently asked question was, “Who will be accountable for performance?” The answer is that system integrators will, including large system integration companies like Wood. An O-PAS-based production system looks a little complicated compared to a traditional process automation system.

Emerson said now people are asking which system integrator will take care of this? How? What are changes to work processes? How do we train people. How do we configure?

Figure 4: OPAF member Dave Emerson, OPAF co-chair of the enterprise architecture working group (EAWG) and vice president USTC (U.S. Technology Center), Yokogawa Corporation of America, also told Control Engineering about the compelling financial benefits of O-PAS over the process automation lifecycle, as explained to Control Engineering at the 2024 ARC Industry Forum.

Figure 4: OPAF member Dave Emerson, OPAF co-chair of the enterprise architecture working group (EAWG) and vice president USTC (U.S. Technology Center), Yokogawa Corporation of America, also told Control Engineering about the compelling financial benefits of O-PAS over the process automation lifecycle, as explained to Control Engineering at the 2024 ARC Industry Forum. Courtesy: Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering

The executive level knows about OPAF, Emerson said. We’re getting work done and writing automation project standards.

The systems involved are not small demonstrations, but production systems with more than 2000 I/O, about 40 DCNs and VMware container software. Emerson said systems are being designed to switch from a major automation vendor to OPAF when ready.

A dedicated cybersecurity stack is based on IEC 62443 reference standard for industrial cybersecurity components and systems.

Mark T. Hoske is content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media and Technology, mhoske@cfemedia.com.

KEYWORDS

Open, interoperable automation architecture; distributed control node

CONSIDER THIS

What are your next steps for interoperability, decoupling of software from hardware, and wider use of IT tools adapted for OT open process automation?


Author Bio: Mark Hoske has been Control Engineering editor/content manager since 1994 and in a leadership role since 1999, covering all major areas: control systems, networking and information systems, control equipment and energy, and system integration, everything that comprises or facilitates the control loop. He has been writing about technology since 1987, writing professionally since 1982, and has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism degree from UW-Madison.