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ODVA expanding EtherNet/IP networking with FDT and FDI technologies


April 23, 2020
By Manufacturing AUTOMATION

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International standards organization ODVA plans to further integrate FDT and FDI technologies into EtherNet/IP.

Additional device description work on the next-generation xDS for CIP devices is also underway.

“ODVA is committed to making EtherNet/IP a best-in-class communication network for both the discrete and process industries and this is another significant step in that journey,” says Dr. Al Beydoun, president and executive director of ODVA, in a release.

FDT communications

Joint ODVA and FDT Group activities will develop an FDT communications annex to support the ODVA Common Industrial Protocol (CIP) on the new FDT 3.0/FITS (FITS) platform.

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The FDT Group has agreed to form an annex project group to develop a communications annex for FITS to support 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.

Integrating FDI

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.

Digitized descriptions for EtherNet/IP

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 xDS.

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.