Drives and Controls Magazine
Gateway gives access to 80% of OT data that is usually lost
Published:  31 March, 2023

Siemens has come up with a technology that makes unused industrial field data accessible to IT systems, helping manufacturers to operate more efficiently. Currently only about 20% of shopfloor data is used, according to Siemens. In many production plants, it adds, there’s hidden potential for optimisation at the field level – for example, in automating machines and systems.

Until now, IT systems have obtained factory data from controllers that send it to edge or cloud systems. Any data that that is not available in the controller – such as information about commissioning – is also unavailable to the IT systems.

Siemens’ Field Data Enablement (FDE) technology allows IT and OT data to converge without needing to re-program controllers. It makes OT data accessible to IT systems that would otherwise be unused, or could only be accessed with considerable effort and disruption to production processes.

The FDE technology will be available either as a hardware gateway or as an app, which can be used independently. The Simatic FDE Gateway can access field devices that are not connected to automation systems, or controls via permanent bus connections.

The FDE Profinet app runs on a Simatic industrial PC and acquires data in parallel with automation systems via existing Profinet connections. The app can also use these connections to access data directly from field devices connected to decentralised I/O systems via IO-Link. This allows OT data, such as status information from sensors, to be made available to IT systems.

Siemens says that the convergence of IT and OT will allow secure, data-driven decisions.

Siemens’ FDE gateway: advancing the fusion of OT and IT

FDE can be integrated easily into existing installations, because no extra sensors need to be retrofitted. Sensors already being used in the OT layer can be tapped for further analysis in the IT environment.

The technology is said to be easy to configure, with no need for programming. All that’s needed is to configure existing information. In addition, parameters such as context and semantic references can be re-used, without needing any redefinition.

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