FDT Group, an independent, international, not-for-profit standards association supporting the evolution of FDT technology (IEC 62453), announced that its board of directors voted unanimously to empower the emerging FDT IIoT Server (FITS) architecture with full platform independence. This decision strengthens the FITS architecture to support an array of operating systems to meet industry-driven demands.
In addition to platform independence, the FITS solution includes native integration of the OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA), as well as comprehensive control and web services interfaces. With built-in security protecting valuable information and operating data, the FITS platform will enable cloud, enterprise, on-premise and a single-user desktop deployment method meeting the needs of the process, hybrid and discrete manufacturing sectors.
"The FITS platform is the 'game changer' the automation industry has been anticipating," said Glenn Schulz, managing director of FDT Group. "The architecture and specification working group has been directed to immediately transition FDT Server Common Components to a pure .NET Core implementation, previously built on the Microsoft .NET Framework. This transition will result in a single FDT Server environment deployable on a Microsoft-, Linux-, or macOS-based operating system, which will empower the intelligent enterprise by bridging the current installed base with next-generation solutions supporting the IIoT and I4.0 era."
Now, cloud-based FDT Servers can enjoy the benefits of a Linux operating system. Traditional control system vendors can offer the FDT Server embedded in their hardware, and machine builders can deploy a small Linux-based FDT Server offering a preconfigured asset management system for their skid that can be securely accessed remotely or with smart phones or browsers. MES applications can also incorporate an FDT Server to gain secure, direct access to production data and asset health and availability metrics through OPC UA. In addition, service providers can wrap services around an FDT Server delivered in an industrial hardened Linux box.
The solution aims to simplify entry into the IIoT marketplace as the only open platform standardized integration architecture providing a single interface with cloud-to-plant floor mobile access. The decision to migrate to platform independence will delay the launch of the FITS specification by approximately six months. The launch is planned for the latter half of 2019 alongside Common Components supporting the FITS standard. Common Components create a library of FDT routines and will simplify compliant development of FITS-based solutions such as Servers, Device Type Managers (DTMs) and APPs.