PROFIBUS & PROFINET International (PI) has published the first OPC UA Companion Specification for PROFINET. This specification describes a standardized OPC UA object model for PROFINET devices, which enables PROFINET devices from a wide variety of different manufacturers to transfer device data to asset management systems in a standardized way, for example. Standardization makes information collection significantly easier for tool manufacturers, regardless of the manufacturer, but this is just the beginning of PI’s vertical integration strategy.
Many Industry 4.0 use cases are based on transferring data from the shop floor to IT systems or the cloud in the operating phase of a plant so it can be evaluated there. In the simplest case, this is device information like the serial number or firmware version of a device. It can go far beyond this, though, if it’s possible to determine network or device diagnostic data, for example. In such cases, maintenance and diagnostic schedules can then be created, or statements on availability derived. PI’s goal is to define an open standard for PROFINET devices, which specifies a wide variety of information in standardized object models, so that they can easily be integrated by device manufacturers and used by plant operators and system integrators. Finally, it also reduces the effort and expenses involved in data collection.
When it comes to implementation, it doesn’t matter whether the OPC UA server is located directly on the device or whether a higher-level edge gateway or controller is aggregating the data for multiple PROFINET devices. In each case, the user has an accurate picture of the information. Here, PROFINET benefits from the essential feature of additional TCP/IP channels being operable in parallel to the actual real-time traffic.
This initial specification represents the basis for subsequent, more far-reaching information models. The next goal taken on by the Working Group will be the modeling of energy management data in OPC UA based on PROFIenergy. Additional requirements are already being clarified now. The Working Groups are also working closely together on overarching OPC specifications, like device integration and a base network information model.