Field Level Communications (FLC) Corner – March 2022

Three years after its launch, the OPC Foundation’s Field Level Communications (FLC) Initiative is preparing for the transition from the first UAFX specification version with the focus on Controller-to-Controller (C2C) to the second UAFX specification version which is extending the UAFX concepts to also cover the use cases Controller-to-Devices (C2D) and Device-to-Device (D2D). Furthermore, plans have begun to build a UAFX multi-vendor demo for the upcoming European tradeshows, including Hannover Fair (May 30-June 2, 2022) and ACHEMA (August 22-26, 2022). The UAFX demo will be showcasing cross-vendor interoperability of automation components over a networking infrastructure consisting of Ethernet switches, Ethernet TSN (Time-Sensitive-Networking) switches, and a 5G testbed.

Completion of First OPC UA FX (Field eXchange) Specifications

The FLC technical working groups are currently busy resolving comments to the UAFX specifications that have been submitted to OPCF-wide member review in November 2021. The UAFX specifications consist of four parts (Parts 80-83) and focus on the communication between automation components to exchange process data and configuration data using OPC UA Client/Server and PubSub extensions in combination with peer-to-peer connections and basic diagnostics, including deterministic transport over Ethernet TSN. The FLC technical working groups are currently also creating the content of Part 84 (OPC 10000-84) UAFX Profiles. These profiles are used to segregate OPC UA FX features with regard to testing of OPC UA controllers implementing OPC UA FX functionality. This testing will be performed in the same way as the testing of profiles defined in Part 8 (OPC 10000-7).

As the completion of the first public release enters the final phase, the FLC Initiative has started to prepare for the transition from the first UAFX specification version with the focus on Controller-to-Controller (C2C) to the second UAFX specification version which is extending the UAFX concepts to also include Controller-to-Devices (C2D) and Device-to-Device (D2D).

Roadmap of UAFX Specifications

UAFX Multi-Vendor Interoperability Demo – Call for Participation

The FLC Initiative has started plans to build a UAFX multi-vendor demo for the upcoming European tradeshows, including Hannover Fair (May 30-June 2, 2022) and ACHEMA (August 22-26, 2022). This demo will showcase cross-vendor interoperability of automation components for the most diverse use cases in Factory and Process Automation. The automation components will be connected to a networking infrastructure – consisting of Ethernet switches, Ethernet TSN (Time-Sensitive-Networking) switches and a 5G testbed – in order to enable cross-vendor data exchange via OPC UA and the extensions for the field level, OPC UA FX (Field eXchange).

In the demo, all controllers are monitored in real time via a central dashboard which visualizes the respective status, selected process data and other information from the UAFX asset information model of the automation components. UAFX controller prototypes will act as UAFX Publisher and/or UAFX Subscriber, which exchange process data via UAFX Connections and PubSub. The controllers are configured and interconnected via so-called UAFX Connection Managers, which are either integrated into the controller or implemented as an external software component.

First UAFX multi-vendor interoperability demo (November 2021)

OPCF member companies that are interested to participate in the multi-vendor demo can contact: peter.lutz[AT]opcfoundation.org –Thanks!