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Field Level Communications Corner – Dec 2023

    New FLC I/O Working Group Launched

    Over 40 participants from more than 30 OPC Foundation member companies have participated in the kick-off meeting of a new working group to develop an I/O Device Profile for OPC UA and the extensions for the field level, named OPC UA FX (Field eXchange). Rosh Sreedharan (Rockwell Automation) and Mark Nixon (Emerson) will act as the initial chairs of the working group under the leadership of the Field Level Communications (FLC) Initiative. The group aims to create a standardized profile for I/O devices used in industrial automation applications, allowing for seamless interoperability between controllers, such as PLC and DCS systems,  and remote I/O devices, including modular I/Os. In order to achieve inter-vendor interoperability of I/O devices, the working group will add to the UAFX base specifications the definition of interfaces and behaviors which are typical for I/O devices. The new I/O device profile will use PubSub and can be combined with different underlying communication protocols (e.g. UDP/IP or Raw Ethernet) and physical layers (e.g. Ethernet-APL) to support all relevant use-cases in discrete and process manufacturing, including safety I/Os based on OPC UA Safety and deterministic data exchange based on Ethernet Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN), where appropriate. The working group will also strive to manage overlap with other information models already released or under development. Examples include the models for Motion and Instrumentation.

    FLC Initiative Launches Phase 2 with Focus on Controller-to-Device (C2D)

    The OPC Foundation’s Field Level Communications (FLC) initiative, which was launched in January 2019, is being extended and will start the next project phase at the beginning of 2024. The focus of this second project phase is on the Controller-to-Device (C2D) use-case including Device-to-Device (D2D). Based on the UAFX specifications that have already been adopted, corresponding extensions for the various applications in factory and process automation will be developed, including the development of application profiles for motion devices, I/O devices, and field instruments.

    Participation in the FLC Technical Working Groups and the FLC Steering Committee is open to all OPC Foundation members (except logo members). Companies that want to join the FLC Steering Committee need to provide extra support by means of financial contributions and man-power.

    Companies interested to participate in the FLC-related activities can contact Peter Lutz, the Director Field Level Communications,