Communication Solution for the Industrial IoT

Intel recently rejoined the OPC Foundation to participate in the OPC Field Level Communication Steering Committee and help develop specifications that will enable OPC UA to seamlessly communicate with field devices. This was a natural next step to go with Intel’s work in TSN standards that have enabled a common foundation for these types of applications. We view OPC UA and the newly formed OPC FLC Steering Committee as well positioned to provide communications solutions for smart manufacturing as well as other verticals and we look forward to engaging these groups with technology professionals from our Intel IoT Group and our Next Generation Standards group. Similar to the transformations we’ve already witnessed in other industries, broad-based and open standards will be key to delivering the necessary scale and efficiencies to meet the needs for convergence that is happening across IT/OT as well as across verticals driven by Industry 4.0 requirements. Intel also intends to help the OPC Foundation work and liaise with the other standards groups to ensure OPC UA and OPC FLC are well connected in the ecosystem.

The digital revolution in industrial applications hit its stride at the end of the last century.  Computers, IT, and automation are very common in the industrial world and we’re now rapidly moving toward an Industrial IoT revolution. With the rapid development of Industrial IoT we’ll quickly see deployments of edge analytics on brownfield equipment and edge computing with virtualization on greenfield deployments. These deployments and future workload consolidations are expected to deliver new levels of OPEX/CAPEX reduction and faster time to revenue through cost reductions and increased output. Ramping Industrial IoT will require new levels of interoperability and increased flexibility & portability.  These deployments will also require the same or increased high-level focus on security and functional safety.

The Industrial IoT Revolution additionally requires industries to redefine how OT and IT work together. There will be many hurdles that will not be easy to overcome, but our future of edge analytics, automated insights, and technology that can act by itself mandates that we will overcome any challenges.  Machines and groups of machines will self-optimize and properly structure for the best outcomes by utilizing common sensors, communication protocols, and standardized data to drive higher utilization and yields. None of this happens overnight and clearly none of this happens without broadly scalable and time sensitive communications standards. These standards must also adhere to the security and safety that Industrial IoT demands. OPC UA and OPC FLC can provide this.

Intel’s Industrial Solutions Division anticipates incorporating OPC UA and OPC FLC, as well as enabling software, in our Industrial Systems Platforms to address the ingestion of data for insights and machine learning as well as industrial control based on the convergence of IT & OT. The industrial platforms will bring learnings and technologies to the industrial segment from many areas to provide for greater availability and throughput while increasing flexibility and scalability. Time coordination utilizing OPC UA standard is critical for this to be a success due to both its deterministic nature and the ability to deliver an open standard.

Gary Martz
Director Industrial IoT Standards, Intel