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Machinery Initiative Explained

Katherine Voss, executive director of ODVA, answers a series of questions detailing the purposes, plans for and current status of the Machinery Initiative, which is designed to bring greater interoperability to the machines used in a variety of manufacturing processes.

Q: What was the initial driver behind the launch of the Machinery Initiative? Katherine Voss: ODVA’s overall membership is keenly interested in evolving the application coverage of ODVA technologies for industrial machinery. Plus, several of ODVA’s principal members have a strong presence in the machinery market.

Q: What factors led to inclusion of SI and OPC Foundation in this Initiative?
KV: The initiative is aimed at improving the integration of machinery with the industrial manufacturing ecosystem. ODVA felt that the participation of Sercos International (SI) and the OPC Foundation would result in the work being beneficial to a larger set of users and vendors through an approach based on collaboration between multiple organizations.

Q: Do you see this Initiative becoming a standard or a widely accepted set of guidelines?
KV: Guidelines are clearly an expected outcome. ODVA and its alliance partners, SI and OPC Foundation, also expect standards work to be a part of the deliverables coming out of this initiative. Rather than one standard per se, we expect that the work could impact the respective standards of each organization in areas such as common data models.

Q: What specifically will this initiative provide to OEMs (e.g., will it specify use of FDI, FDT, EDDL, etc. as application-dependent interoperability options)?
KV: We’re not trying to re-write or change the existing standards for ODVA or its alliance partner organizations. Rather, we are seeking to use those standards as a base from which to build an open interoperability framework that can encompass multiple standards relevant to the integration of machinery with overall production processes and the enterprise. Through its research into the machinery market, ODVA has identified four key areas of focus: machine optimization, connectivity, information exchange, and device definition and configuration. However, we are still in the early stages of our next level of investigation as to what existing or new standards may be included in the framework.

Q: When the term machinery is used for his initiative, does it apply to process industry machinery as well as discrete and batch application-focused machinery?
KV: The initiative is not limited to any particular type of machinery although it would be fair to say that initial OEM and user input will likely come from discrete and hybrid (batch) applications.

Q: Has any reportable progress been made to date regarding key milestones identification for the initiative?
KV: ODVA has formed a task force to ensure the appropriate input is received from machine builders on the process and has also held its initial workshop with its alliance partners, SI and OPC Foundation, to begin identifying initial areas of cross collaboration.

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