As the Internet of Things (IoT) as well as Industry 4.0 are probably the most stressed topics of the last couple years we will skip the “there will be billions of connected devices…” part for this article.
Smart factories and sophisticated automation require a complex combination of strategy, technology and flexibility addressing needs from the fieldbus level up to the enterprise level. The complexity and concerns regarding costs, future support, flexibility and maintenance prevent many companies from starting to implement new standards and technologies.
However, with the marriage of the OPC UA protocol with publisher/subscriber extension and IEEE TSN Ethernet standards there should be no more excuses not to upgrade your systems.
New endeavors that will impact every part of your industrial automation system are strategic and important – and we get that. The industrial segment is marked by a number of different proprietary systems that fight for a place in factory set ups. Do away with all of them and with the related struggles of making them speak with each other.
Implement TSN technology and use OPC UA with it and you’ll be fine. Here are three simple reasons why you should believe this bold statement:
There Is Enough Backup
You are not alone with the implementation of OPC UA over TSN. A big number of industry heavy weights like TTTech, Cisco, General Electric, Bosch Rexroth and Schneider Electric are supporting OPC UA TSN heavily in order to establish it as the predominant standard. They all want to get rid of the more than 30 incompatible protocols that prevent the easy connection of automation systems – just like you.
To further boost your confidence that TSN is future proven: The automotive industry is heavily investing in TSN in order to implement deterministic Ethernet and thus to simplify the wiring harness in the car.
The huge interest of the automotive industry also means that the required semiconductor components will be available very quickly and relatively inexpensively.
The USB Cable Of Automation
The combination of TSN standards for lower layers of communication with OPC UA standards for higher protocol layers creates an open architecture that can be used to fully network even the most demanding production processes.
In other words OPC UA TSN can bridge the IP-based world of IT and protocols for hard real-time demands (e.g. POWERLINK) as well as control devices and machineries of multiple manufacturers.
OPC UA has been implemented by the majority of control system manufacturers. Thus machines with controllers from different manufacturers can easily be connected to the same system. As OPC UA is platform independent it can be ported to any operating system or embedded hardware.
TSN enables you to send time critical data over the same network as your standard data. Furthermore, the standard is open for data rates of up to 1Gbit/s or even 10Gbit/s and offers great flexibility through combination of different IEEE 802.1 standards.
Therefore the equation OPC UA plus TSN delivers scalability, low maintenance cost and ultra-high interoperability that meets the deterministic requirements of the fieldbus level.
Unlock A New And Efficient Automation Model
Implementing OPC UA TSN is not just an upgrade to your technology but it gives you the possibility to access a whole new model of automation. Currently we speak of the fieldbus level, control level, process management level, and enterprise level within automation, typically illustrated as a pyramid.
With the introduction of high speed real-time networks and Industry 4.0 technology this structure changes.
The field level stays mainly untouched but is upgraded with more intelligence and smarter devices which will be able to perform many processes autonomously.
The other levels will be moved to high performance servers located in a server cluster, data centre or the cloud. This will enable a high level of virtualization for devices above the field level and thus lead to a reduction of different devices resulting in easier management, better utilization of resources and clear cost savings.
The seamless connection of individual production steps will positively impact everything from factory and production planning over product development, control technology, logistics to enterprise resource planning.
The good news is companies don’t need to worry about an over-night shift in structure and technology as the implementation of TSN and OPC UA is building a scalable and flexible foundation which provides the freedom to add new processes and systems step by step.
Feel free to get in touch with EBV here in order to get access to hardware and to get support with management and implementation of TSN standards!