The intelligent manufacturing networks of digital factories will only become reality with machine-processable, standardized information, because they have to work across company and industry boundaries. PROFIBUS & PROFINET International (PI) sees its role in creating the necessary basis for this fact, especially in view of Industry 4.0.

In a first step, this has been accomplished by providing device-related expertise for PI technologies – for instance, in the form of parameters in the open device profiles or other specifications for the application layer, like for an asset management record. However, in order for these to be used as the basis for a machine-processable flow of data across the various systems – from sensor to cloud – the data that is already available today must be transformed into clearly usable information by means of semantic standards. OPC UA and eCl@ss are playing an increasingly important role in regard to industrial automation. With regards to OPC UA, PI is working closely together with the OPC Foundation in order to provide companion specifications with defined information models. Additionally, PI is acting jointly with the FieldComm Group on an FDI device information model for process automation, with the goal of implementing the NOA architecture requirements in an optimum way. These models will then – in cooperation with eCl@ss e.V. – be expanded by semantic identifiers for device parameters, for example, which have been defined in PI’s specification documents.

In regard to the latter cooperation, the joint working group that was established for this purpose has begun its work, has agreed upon the necessary process steps of their collaboration and has coordinated the organizations’ approval processes. Within the scope of an initial project, the joint working group began identifying the relevant parameters of the PA Profile 4.0 and categorizing the semantic identifiers. The results have been documented in a mapping table, which both organizations are able to use. These results will be available on the PI website and in the eCl@ss download portal. On the part of eCl@ss e.V., the device parameters being handled in the scope of the cooperation are being incorporated in the eCl@ss product description system and provide the necessary semantic identifiers.

The results of the cooperation form a significant basis for the automated interaction of various systems and components from different manufacturers and are essential for business processes to run optimally between end users, suppliers, customers, etc. in systems of the Industry 4.0 generation.

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