Our I4.0 Big Picture: Concrete Measures

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It’s imperative that we understand and co-determine the entire scope of different topics in the field of industrial communication. I got confirmation of these goals and direction from discussions I had with different visitors and exhibitors at embedded world – the leading international trade fair for embedded systems – where attendance was light due to Coronavirus concerns.

At the fair, we were able to present our strategy and approach towards new topics like Single-Pair Ethernet (SPE), TSN, OPC UA, security, 5G and the mapping of data for startup companies with AI, and get feedback as well. The newest of new technologies aren’t the only interesting things though, as connection to tried-and-true PROFIBUS and the integration of PROFINET into additional operating systems are now garnering interest as well. This also made the trade fair a good test for determining whether we’re on the right path.

When the Industry 4.0 project was started with lots of dedicated companies, its many different dimensions quickly became clear. On the one hand, we have to tackle the entire spectrum of industrial communication technology, but timely implementation can only occur in agile measures based on existing technology. Due to the sheer size of this spectrum, we also have to work closely together with other organizations. We all agreed that action was called for, not a “wait and see” attitude!

As it stands today, we have quite a few achievements under our belt:

  • The first PROFINET over TSN specification has been available since the 2019 Hanover Messe.
  • The OPC UA / PROFINET Companion Specification and the OPC UA Safety specification were released in the past month.
  • The first steps in security expansion will soon be part of the specification for the 2020 Hanover Messe; demonstrations and an initial device implementation are being published and the next steps in these areas are clear and being tackled now.
  • We’re in the middle of constructive talks and development regarding SPE/APL, NoA, eClass and 60802 and are absolutely certain that work in areas like 5G will also be coming our way soon.
  • Last, but not least, we also want to deliver these results to the world. One example of how we’ll be doing this is through an expanded presentation of these topics on the profibus.com website.

Cooperation with other organizations is working, and it’s recognized that we’re contributing sound knowledge and clear use-cases from our customers. Examples include TSN network configuration within the framework of IEC/IEEE60802 and expansion of the Device Integration specification from the OPC Foundation for different views of a device.

It’s painstaking work, to be sure, but it’s worth it. It allows us to offer our users and manufacturers integrated and future-proof communication solutions for the challenges of digitization from a single source. I’d like to thank all participants for their dedicated cooperation so far. I’m already looking forward to working together again on the steps that lie ahead.

Xaver Schmidt
The Industry 4.0 Project