Mobilizing secure, real-time remote operations for Industry 4.0

Mobility technology is transforming the smart manufacturing and improving Industry 4.0 by providing environment and empowering an intelligent enterprise through a smart, connected automation ecosystem. See video.

By Glenn Schulz March 17, 2021
Courtesy: FDT Group

Today’s plant or factory operator has become a multi-faceted, data-empowered, critical facet of the manufacturing process who is able to leverage data from many sources, make objective decisions based on complex, real-time information, and understand the system to solve problems.

Mobility technology is transforming the smart manufacturing environment. This trend is accelerated by the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industry 4.0 initiatives, whose goals include empowering an intelligent enterprise through a smart, connected automation ecosystem.

FDT Group continues to advance its open standard for enterprise-wide network and asset integration. The organization is dedicated to meeting the requirements for mobilizing real-time remote connectivity and operation on the industrial shop floor and in the field. Its goal is to enable automation end users to employ the functionality they appreciate in the FDT integration standard on all of the leading mobile platforms. This mobility integration will provide access to additional data with flexible deployment options.

The web user interface (UI) with FDT 3.0 allows device-type managers (DTMs) to be opened in any browser, including mobile devices carried by field personnel. Manufacturers can utilize the technology’s standardized mobility platform as part of their service functionality, helping site engineers solve problems with remote assistance.

At the same time, FDT web services provides a standardized mobile access approach utilizing browsers, apps, standalone applications, or anything else capable of interfacing via web sockets. Users can take advantage of standard browsers to gain access to FDT-enabled systems, or write custom apps and programs.

Courtesy: FDT Group

Courtesy: FDT Group

With apps employing FDT web services, for example, mobile devices can be used to carry out daily maintenance activities. FDT data is brought closer to the engineer or technician. This enables troubleshooting and monitoring instruments’ critical operating parameters to be performed remotely to ensure they are functioning according to specification.

The FDT 3.0 standard also offers cybersecurity protection with consumer-grade transport layer security (TLS) implementations. Data packets are are encrypted and provide both authentication and message-integrity protection. The security features also enable authorization of all mobile devices connected to the server. This technique not only verifies an authorized device communicating with the server, but also verifies authorized users of the device itself. Role-based security is employed to determine the user’s role and rights within the application as part of a multi-layered, defense-in-depth security strategy.

From business decision-making to process workflows, user interfaces, and proactive maintenance, new utilizations of mobile devices and apps are drastically changing the way manufacturing gets done.

Courtesy: FDT Group

Courtesy: FDT Group

The FDT standard maintains its core communication, lifecycle and diagnostic capabilities, but now offers secure, real-time remote access to data through mobile devices and web sockets so that other applications can take part in the exchange of information.

Glenn Schulz, managing director at FDT Group, a CFE Media content partner. Edited by Chris Vavra, web content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media and Technology,

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Author Bio: Glenn Schulz, managing director at FDT Group