Legacy Control System Transition into the IIoT Era
As industrial enterprises address the lifecycle challenges associated with distributed control systems (DCS) that are still running after decades of operation, many recognize the emergence of a major juncture in the evolution of control automation systems. This present juncture is met with numerous questions that express both excitement and concern. For example, how do businesses refresh existing infrastructure yet take advantage of rapid technological advances to improve production while protecting plant assets including the manufacturer’s intellectual property?
The full or partial transition of the DCS to an IIoT centric system is driven by expected outcomes that enable access and analysis of more data and that promote seamless interoperability of multi-vendor components. As a result, new initiatives are emerging to define an over-arching standard that incorporates the standards currently defined for communications interoperability but also defines a reference and/or conformance platform that is standards-based, open, secure and interoperable. Industrie 4.0, Made in China 2025, and the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) are major initiatives that have been underway for several years and are primarily focused on practical IIoT standardization and deployment. OPC UA is a key component of all of these standardization efforts.
In September of 2016, The Open Group launched the Open Process Automation Forum (OPAF). Their vision is to define a standards-based, open, secure, and interoperable process control architecture of the future. A White Paper has been produced to show why and how OPC UA can be applied to realize the Open Process Automation Forum vision.