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Enabling OPC UA and Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) for field devices for field devices

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Autor: Charlotte Lange

Analog Devices, Arm, Amazon Web Services (AWS), B&R Industrial Automation, Lattice Semiconductor, Schneider Electric and Texas Instruments entered a collaboration to create a permissive, open source OPC UA over TSN (Time Sensitive Networking) stack on FreeRTOS. The goal is to simplify and accelerate the development of efficient, smart and secure industrial field devices compliant with OPC UA FX (for Field eXchange) and with that enable broad ecosystem adoption across the manufacturing industry.

Enabling OPC UA and Ethernet TSN

This new initiative focuses on enabling OPC UA and Ethernet TSN for compute and memory constrained devices such as microcontrollers and low power FPGA based SoC (System on Chip) devices. OPC Foundation drives the standardization of information models for field devices based on OPC UA, support for Ethernet TSN for IT/OT network convergence based on one vendor-independent communication standard, standardization of application profiles (e.g., I/O, motion control, safety, etc.) and cyber security in industrial automation.

Traditionally, OPC UA was only supported on CPU-based controller devices such as PLCs (Programmable Logic Controller), Industrial PCs, HMI devices or SCADA systems. Today, these controllers can provide higher level services based on the necessary low-level data for machine representation and sensor/actuator information. However, they typically share only a fraction of the raw data available from sensors and actuators because it is aggregated, omitted or only alarms are retained.

Fast analyses of large amounts of data

The quality of higher-level Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) services like predictive maintenance, cloud-based analytics and digital twins depend on the quality of the raw data on which they are based. To deliver on the promise of smart manufacturing, process optimization and adaptive systems, unadulterated raw data must be retrieved directly from the source – including metadata such as units, access rights and timestamps. With OPC UA and TSN enabled at the sensor and actuator level, continuous insight and data-flow will be ensured without disturbing machine operations while still applying the latest zero-trust security principles. Combined with the outstanding real-time capabilities of TSN, this will be a truly IoT capable fieldbus solution on the market.

These organizations will work together to develop permissive open-source software components, provide reference designs and starting guides on multiple silicon offerings and sensor to cloud IIoT use cases.

“This initiative will be a fundamental accelerator for market adoption of OPC UA FX including TSN and with this making a major step toward adaptive and self-learning manufacturing systems”, Stefan Schoenegger, Global Product Group Manager Controls, – B&R Automation.

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