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Field Level Communications Corner – June 2023

    FLC Initiative – Status Quo and Further Roadmap

    While the UAFX Specification Part 10000-83 (UAFX Offline Engineering) – including corresponding Conformance Units (CU) for Part 10000-84 (UAFX Profiles) – is currently being finalized, the FLC initiative is continuing to transition to the next project phase. In this so-called Phase 2 the existing concepts of UAFX with the focus on Controller-to-Controller (C2C) are extended to also support the Controller-to-Device (C2D) use-cases including the various factory and process automation application areas, such as motion control, field instrumentation, and distributed I/O.

    C2D-related technical work is being carried out by a total of 10 working groups (see graphic below). All working groups are already active, except for the FLC I/O working group, for which a call for participation and the kickoff meeting will be held soon. The handover of the requirements to the C2D is already well advanced, so that concrete work items or work packages will be assigned to the respective technical working groups shortly.

    FLC Working Group Structure for C2D-related work

    No. FLC Working Group Chair
    1 FLC Architecture WG Gregory Majcher (Rockwell Automation)
    2 FLC Offline Engineering WG Emanuel Kolb (ABB)
    4 FLC Safety WG Christian Eitner (Siemens)
    5 FLC Motion WG Rick Blair (Schneider Electric)
    6 FLC Instrumentation WG Mark Nixon (Emerson) /
    Shanthala Kamath (ABB)
    7 FLC I/O WG TBD
    8 FLC Prototyping WG Joao Lopes (Qualcomm)
    9 FLC Test Development WG Thomas Schreck (Schneider Electric)
    10 FLC Networking WG Alexander Gogolev (Huawei)

    Participation in the FLC Working Groups is open to all OPC Foundation member companies.
    Contact: Peter Lutz, Director FLC, peter.lutz[AT]

    An overview on the status and further roadmap of the FLC Initiative was being presented during the OPC Day International 2023. Link to the recording:

    Kick-Off Meeting FLC Instrumentation WG

    The kickoff meeting of the new FLC Instrumentation WG was held on June 3, 2023 with more than 40 experts from the OPC Foundation and the cooperating FieldComm Group (FCG). Many well-known manufacturers in the process and factory automation industries are represented within this working group to ensure a uniform, worldwide, and coordinated standard for OPC UA-based instrumentation devices. The aim is to provide an interoperable interface between PLC / DCS and instrumentation devices, such as transmitters, instruments, and actuators. The solution shall support different industries such as oil & gas, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, energy, water & wastewater, and pulp & paper.

    In order to achieve inter-vendor interoperability of instrumentation devices, the working group will add to the UAFX base specifications the definition of interfaces and behaviors which are typical for instrumentation devices, including:

    • Commonly used interfaces and data types for the industries mentioned above including functional safety,
    • Diagnostic information specific to instrumentation devices,
    • Operation modes of instrumentation devices,
    • State machines and timing models for instrumentation-specific functionality, where appropriate.

    The new instrumentation device profile specification will use UAFX PubSub and can be combined with different underlying communication protocols (e.g. UDP/IP) and physical layers (e.g. Ethernet-APL) to support all relevant use cases in discrete and process manufacturing, including safety instrumentation based on OPC UA Safety and deterministic data exchange based on Ethernet Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN), where appropriate.

    The Instrumentation Facet shall be complementary to OPC 30081 “OPC UA for Process Automation Devices (PA-DIM)” and other Companion Specifications. The working group will also strive to manage overlap with other information models already released or under development. Examples include the models for “Calibration” (a Harmonization sub-group) and “Laboratory and Analytical Devices” (LADS working group).

    Initial co-chairs of the working group are Mark Nixon (Emerson) and Shanthala Kamath (ABB).

    Participation in the working group is open to members of the OPC Foundation, as well as corporate entity members of the FieldComm Group.
    Contact: Peter Lutz, Director FLC, peter.lutz[AT]