Although the digitalization of industry has brought with it the potential for incredible productivity gains, it hasn’t been without its challenges. Namely, as more data has begun to be traded between disparate systems and devices, interoperability has emerged as one of the biggest hurdles to ubiquitous Industry 4.0 implementations. This interoperability challenge is largely due to the reliance of many automation suppliers on proprietary technologies to maintain their customer bases. Fortunately, this strategy is beginning to fade as more companies realize it holds back innovation, frustrates end-users, and ultimately does them more harm than good.
In response to this shift, an assortment of industry groups—such as the Open Process Automation Forum, the Open Industry 4.0 Alliance, and the Industrial Internet Consortium—have formed in the interest of developing and promoting open standards.
Reflecting the interoperability aims of these larger groups, process automation company Endress+Hauser’s started its own Open Integration partners program, focusing on the application open standards to select and combine products for specific applications. Endress+Hauser explains that, through this program, members develop shared reference topologies to map the various elements of their products and develop documentation regarding how they will fit into end-users’ overall systems.
To date, 13 companies have joined Endress+Hauser’s Open Integration network: Auma, Bürkert, Festo, Flowserve, Hima, Honeywell Process Solutions, Pepperl+Fuchs, Phoenix Contact, Rockwell Automation, Schneider Electric, Softing Industrial Automation, and Turck. The most recent addition to the network is flow control equipment provider Rotork.
As part of the Open Integration network, Rotork will collaborate with Endress+Hauser and other partners to ensure that its technology is not hampered by integration issues.
Jörg Reinkensmeier, marketing manager at Endress+Hauser, said, “Having Rotork join our partner program provides us with additional expertise in actuators, instrumentation, and the larger flow control market.”
Endress+Hauser said partner companies in its Open Integration network are assured that their products meet customer’s needs and avoid negative end-user experiences as a result of integration difficulties. The barriers to digitalization are also substantially reduced for end-users, who will be more likely to move forward with digital transformation projects. In this less proprietary environment, Endress+Hauser noted that vendors are incentivized to compete by improving the quality of their product offerings, rather than relying on customers being locked into their system.
“This program is a great opportunity to collaborate towards common customer benefits in a pre-sales stage and to extend our scope as a trusted partner in the market. The reliability and quality that we have come to expect from Endress+Hauser is also a key driver at Rotork,” said Armin Nagel, head of sales at Rotork.