ODVA Enters Into Agreements with FDT and Fieldcomm Group and Continues XDS Development to Expand Ethernet/IP Technology Ecosystem

May 12, 2020
ODVA announced today that it has entered into separate agreements to further integrate FDT and FDI technologies into EtherNet/IP. Additional device description work on the next generation xDS for CIP devices also continues to move forward.

Joint ODVA and FDT Group activities are underway to develop an FDT communications annex to support the ODVA Common Industrial Protocol (“CIPTM”) on the new FDT 3.0/FITS (“FITS”) platform. The FDT Group has agreed to form an annex project group to develop a communications annex for FITS to support clean-in-place (CIP) based networks such as EtherNet/IP. FITS extends the client server / architecture concept that was available in FDT2 to now enable full access via the edge, the cloud, the Web and OPC UA. FITS is platform independent through the use of an open .NET Core as well as HTML 5 and JavaScript.

FDT technology standardizes the configuration interface between field devices and control systems, independent of communication protocol, allowing streamlined access to device parameters. When FITS is used with CIP and network adaptations such as EtherNet/IP,  the resulting system provides users with a feature-rich interoperable environment for commissioning, control, and diagnostics. FITS also extends the interoperability of CIP Networks with other network technologies by enabling the development of network independent common software tools.

Separately, members of ODVA and the Fieldcomm Group (FCG) are working together to enhance the FDI Package Integrated Development Environment (IDE) and FDI Host Components to support EtherNet/IP. The goal is to allow EtherNet/IP to work more efficiently and seamlessly with FDI technology for the benefit of implementers. The FDI Device Package IDE makes writing, running and testing FDI Device Packages easier and more efficient by providing the tools for industrial communication devices across multiple communication protocols in one application.

With easier creation of FDI Device Packages for vendors, more end users will see significant improvement in configuration, commissioning, diagnosis, and calibration as more EtherNet/IP devices support FDI. Control systems, configurators, and asset management software that supports FDI will be able to take advantage of EtherNet/IP devices with FDI Device Packages. The inclusion of FDI Device Packages improves the interoperability and lowers the commissioning burden on end users for EtherNet/IP devices.

ODVA is also engaged in another device configuration enhancement effort via a Special Interest Group (SIG) that is making progress on a new specification for the next generation of digitized descriptions for EtherNet/IP device data, known as xDSTM. xDS will allow for workflow-driven device description files for device integration such as network and security configuration and digitized business models such as digital twins and cloud-based analytics. In addition to the specification efforts, ODVA is working on tools to simplify development of xDS device description files and their consumption by device integration tools, as well as conformance tests for xDS files.

The xDS device description for CIP devices will ultimately serve as a replacement for EDS files. xDS will enable the use of a wide array of tools and systems for both the process and discrete industries using established technologies. The rich information from the xDS customized device information file can be exposed to both FITS and FDI Device Packages. The work on xDS along with the activities outlined with the FDT Group and FCG ensures ODVA is in alignment with the next generation of value-added user interface, business logic, and device information technologies. ODVA’s partnership with FDT and FCG will ensure that both vendors and end users have the desired solutions and options to best meet their needs.

ODVA is continuing to enhance EtherNet/IP to best meet the needs of industrial automation customers across the spectrum of vertical markets. These joint efforts with the FDT Group and FCG along with the xDS specification enhancement work are a part of the expansion of the EtherNet/IP technology ecosystem which will result in improving the experience of both device vendors and end users as well as to prepare for a future driven by Industry 4.0 and IIoT. The joint efforts between ODVA and the FDT Group and between ODVA and FCG will both benefit from the robust CIP information model presented by xDS. 

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