Truly open, interoperable automation and control is the long-sought holy grail and much-desired Aladdin's lamp of the process industries. And now, its many potential benefits are tantalizingly within reach.
This promise of real interoperability is thanks largely to the courageous efforts of the Open Process Automation Forum (OPAF), which has Schneider Electric as one if its founding members and leaders.
"We've been an OPAF member since 2016 and heavily involved in the development of its Open Process Automation Standard (O-PAS), which is a 'standard of standards' that's increasingly integrating and complying with IEC 61499," said Trevor Cusworth, strategic account manager at Schneider Electric and co-chair of OPAF, who was referring to the international standard for using software function blocks to represent process measurements and control system functions.
"We now have 110 members, including end users, system integrators, suppliers and information technology (IT) companies. This is an operations technology (OT) and IT exercise, and we're still looking for more members to join."
Recent OPAF and IEC 61499 developments were detailed by Cusworth and two other Schneider Electric experts, who presented "Understanding the progress of OPAF and the rapid advancement of open process automation standards” at this week’s Schneider Electric Innovation Talks for users of company’s EcoStruxure Foxboro process automation systems and EcoStruxure Triconex safety systems.