Accelerating Development of Open Process Automation Systems and Related Standards
Advances in hardware, software, networking and security, increasing global competition and cybersecurity risks, and the need to gain more value from automation technology will accelerate the development of open process automation systems and related standards.
For example, one initiative is being driven by a collaboration of end users, including ExxonMobil, Aramco, BASF, ConocoPhillips, Dow, Georgia-Pacific, and Linde. These companies are members of the Open Process Automation Forum (OPAF) established by The Open Group to identify and select appropriate standards for technology and systems to support interoperability, avoid technology obsolescence, and deliver more business value.
The goal of this collaboration is to accelerate creation of a standards-based, open, interoperable, and secure automation architecture that addresses both technical and commercial challenges of current systems.
A recently developed test bed for use by the collaboration partners will act as the foundation for testing the performance and operation of individual components and standards. The collaboration partners will nominate and prioritize new components, standards, and system features to be added and tested. The results from the test bed will be shared with all collaboration partners and create a foundation for developing future solutions.
At the asset/application level, a parallel (and potentially converging) end user-driven effort, the NAMUR Open Architecture (NOA) standard for transferring field equipment information, will continue to gain traction in Europe and elsewhere. NOA uses a standardized information model to securely transfer field data from within the control system to cloud or on-premise applications for monitoring and optimization (M+O) purposes.
The main purpose of NOA is to reduce the cost and effort required to integrate M+O applications while safeguarding real-time, deterministic process control and instrumentation. NOA demonstrators have shown that the principles behind NOA are sound. Proof-of-concept installations show they can be transformed to technical specifications and standards that could lead to marketable products.