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Industry 4.0 Concepts for Discrete Manufacturing Applied to Process Automation

The post Industry 4.0 Concepts for Discrete Manufacturing Applied to Process Automation first appeared on the ISA Interchange blog site.

This article was written by Bill Lydon, automation industry authority, journalist and former chief editor at InTech magazine.

Industry 4.0 initially focused on discrete manufacturing, and now there is a growing focus on applying Industry 4.0 concepts to process automation. The same concepts are being applied to process automation to achieve a holistic integration of automation, business information, and manufacturing execution function to improve all aspects of production and commerce across company boundaries for greater efficiency.

The “Process Sensor 4.0 Roadmap” is a big step toward creating fundamental building blocks to advance process automation system architectures. A number of NAMUR working groups are part of Working Area 2 (WA 2), Automation Systems for Processes and Plants.

Process Sensor 4.0 Roadmap

The Process Sensor 4.0 Roadmap highlights the opportunity to optimize process control and value-added production with “smart,” networked communicating sensors. These “smart” sensors provide services within a network and use information from the network as a foundation with which to implement Industry 4.0 cyber-physical systems within future process industry automation systems. Fundamental Industry 4.0 for Process concepts include process applications with direct communications from field devices simultaneously to process control, business systems, supply chain, engineering, and planning systems. These sensors are implemented by leveraging embedded computing technology, which has become pervasive in consumer and computing products. This is intended to facilitate the change from rigid, preconceived, hierarchical production systems to dynamic, flexible, self-configuring and self-optimizing, integrated, and intelligent networked systems and processes.

The road map was initiated by NAMUR and VDI/VDE in collaboration with several prominent leaders in the industry, including ABB, BASF, Bayer Technology Services, Bilfinger Maintenance, Endress+Hauser, Evonik, Festo, Krohne, Lanxess, Siemens, and Fraunhofer ICT.

NAMUR is an international association of user companies established in 1949. It represents their interests concerning automation technology. Organizational goals include adding value through automation engineering and facilitating “frank and fair dialogue” with manufacturers.

VDE Association for Electrical, Electronic and Information Technologies is one of Europe’s largest technical-scientific associations, with more than 36,000 members. The organization has primary offices in Frankfurt, Berlin, and Brussels, as well as 29 branch offices throughout Germany. VDE also works closely with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (

VDI/VDE Society for Measurement and Automatic Control (GMA) is a joint organization of VDE and VDI, which orients users about the current trends in automation that are supported by innovations in information technology (IT), microelectronics, optics, and sensorics (advanced measuring technologies). The Society organizes meetings, conferences, seminars, and other events to promote the transfer of know-how.

The Process Sensors 4.0 Roadmap goes beyond previous road maps, which tended to focus almost exclusively on technical requirements of sensors and their operating principles. Instead, the new road map focuses on how to achieve greater efficiencies with sensors that have embedded intelligence, communications, and an information system interface based on Industry 4.0 concepts. The road map describes how communication and the management of information will become increasingly important as information from sensors is integrated into business systems. The road map notes new technology will simplify application engineering and maintenance using “plug and play” smart sensors. The report shares how new developments, from IT and medical technology, are creating the possibility for improved process sensors, leveraging miniaturized components with extremely low pricing. These devices also utilize advances in configuration software to simplify project engineering and maintenance. For example, new smart sensors may be able to measure several metrics, calibrate and optimize themselves, and interact directly with other sensors and actuators, thus performing control and automation independently.

The road map identifies the necessary requirements, as well as the communication abilities, of smart process sensors from simple temperature sensors to more complex ones. Important smart sensor features noted in the road map include:

  • autonomous sensor interaction (peer to peer)
  • sensor verification (logical verification using adjacent sensors)
  • plug and play (self-configuration/parameterization)
  • virtual description supporting continuous engineering
  • traceability and compliance
  • self-calibration
  • self-diagnosis
  • connectivity and communication using a unified protocol (OPC UA)
  • maintenance and operating functions
  • energy self-sufficiency (energy harvesting)
  • wireless sensors
  • sensor data access rights control
  • standards compatible (i.e., good manufacturing practices, U.S. Federal Drug Administration)

The application of Industry 4.0 and Internet of Things concepts and technologies is part of an ongoing discussion with ramifications throughout the entire industry. Smart sensors with embedded intelligence that can communicate for control and integrate with enterprise business systems represent a clear system architecture change for process automation and control leveraging advances in technology.

NAMUR Working Group 2.6

NAMUR Working Group 2.6 (WG 2.6) “Fieldbus” published the position paper, An Ethernet communication system for the process industry to be a basis for discussion about future systems.

WG 2.6 Fieldbus is under the umbrella NAMUR work area “Automation Systems for Processes and Plants.” It is addressing issues that include solutions and systems for the management, steering, control, inspection, and communication of production plants assigned to the area between field and company control levels. The scope includes cross-cutting issues, such as new technologies and sustainable automation engineering solutions.

The position paper serves as a basis for discussion in the dialogue with manufacturers. It describes the requirements to be met by an Ethernet fieldbus system for the process industry, taking into account previous experience with existing fieldbus systems, as well as desirable future properties. Considerations include the special characteristics of the process industry, such as very long plant service life and the resulting long use of process control systems and field devices, as well as stringent requirements for safety and availability, which are special challenges for digital and networked communication structures. The introduction of an Ethernet-based communication system calls for a precise definition of the requirements for a system that is specifically designed for the process industry. In addition to the requirements described in NE 74 (NAMUR fieldbus requirements) new aspects were identified.

Overall concept

What is needed is a modular overall concept to meet different plant requirements, such as topological conditions, link length, bit rates, explosion protection, safety instrumented systems, and the integration of existing fieldbus systems. The focus is the classical field devices of the process industry in terms of sensor and actuator systems, such as pressure, temperature, level, flow, and positioner. In addition to classical field devices, which are often also used in explosive atmospheres, the overall concept shall be integrated via the same protocols as all other equipment of the process plant, such as the motor starter, frequency converter, weighing and analytical systems, as well as energy measuring systems and building services. It shall describe them by means of profiles. As a result, all information will be available for processing to all systems involved and can be used consistently in engineering and configuration tools.


NAMUR calls for protocols IEC 61784-2 CPF 2/2 Ethernet/IP and IEC 61784-2 CPF 3/5 Profinet IO CC B to become minimum binding requirements for the process industry. These protocols need to be adapted to meet the process industry’s special requirements, including the following:

All bus participants (e.g., field devices, process control systems, and infrastructure components) must be able to communicate with each other in an interoperable manner without any interference to ensure long-term bus operation.

The two protocols specified must be supported by all bus components in terms of mandatory functions (e.g., transmission of measuring values).

In addition to the deterministic protocol specified, other standard protocols shall be interoperable (i.e., simultaneous operation with other protocols must be possible without any interaction). The same protocol shall be used irrespective of the physical layer used (i.e., also for wireless or fiber optical solutions).

Field-device interfaces

The physical layer connects the typical sensor and actuator systems used in production plants of the process industry. Wired connections shall be designed as two-wire cables with signal transmission and energy supply of field devices. The physical layer shall be suited for use in both explosive and nonexplosive atmospheres (which is in keeping with current fieldbus solutions).


Field connections will be based on NAMUR NE 74, Fieldbus Requirements.

Explosion protection

The large area covered by production plants calls for distribution equipment, such as switches, to be installed in hazardous areas. This requires components with an adequate type of explosion-proof protection. Field devices in hazardous areas are typically connected according to the “intrinsic safety” type of protection. Proof of intrinsic safety must be limited to a comparison of parameters. The applied explosion protection shall be internationally recognized.


Devices and components will conform to the NE 21 electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) requirements.

Binary signals

Simple interface modules, preferably compact two-wire devices or modular mini-I/Os, shall be provided for binary signals, such as switches, initiators, solenoid valves, and signal lamps. As a rule, direct bus connection shall be possible.

Safety instrumented systems

A special protocol version for safety applications shall be available and transmitted via the same medium as normal protocols (“black channel” principle). An adequate number of safety-oriented field devices and controls must be available. As in the case of conventional safety instrumented systems, the sensor/actuator systems of the field devices and the bus coupling of the field device signal shall be proven in use or at least meet safety integrity level 2 requirements. This ensures adequate reduction of systematic errors without, however, being explicitly certified. To ensure safe data transmission, protocol stacks in accordance with IEC 61508 are used in the sensors and actuators that put the reliably generated signals on the bus. The protocol that ensures safety (safety layers in addition to transmission layers) can be selectively activated by a switch in the field device. This means that the devices can be used for both safety-related and nonsafety-related equipment. These devices shall be commissioned in the same way as standard devices. A hardware switch to lock parameterization is required.

Field device integration (NE 105)

The device packages required for field device integration shall be available in the devices and capable of being transmitted to central tools following NE 105 Specifications for Integrating Fieldbus Devices in Engineering Tools for Field Devices.

Transmission of measuring values

Measuring and control values shall be transmitted without a configuration file. To this end, it is necessary to agree on defined profiles, such as AI, AO, DI, and DO.


Parameterizing, configuring fieldbus devices, signal flooding, and connecting additional devices must not interfere with the transmission of measuring data and shall be possible during ongoing operation.

Automatic addressing

Devices and components shall be addressed automatically. It shall be possible to activate entire segments or areas.

Device replacement

When replacing a device (1:1), the configuration of the previous device shall be loaded automatically and the measuring process continued without any extra effort or input. Replacing a device with a newer model of the same type and by the same manufacturer shall be possible at any time. It shall be indicated on the device which versions may be used for replacement. The interchange of devices provided by different manufacturers shall be possible over an agreed range of functions (NAMUR parameters, profiles).

Default setting

It is also necessary to deliver devices with preset uniform parameter sets (default settings) in accordance with NE 131 and NE 107.


In addition to marking in accordance with NE 53, the type plate shall have a clear and nonproprietary marking so that the devices can be identified as Ethernet devices (e.g., logo).

Diagnosis, status

The status signals according to NE 107 shall be consistently supported by devices, systems, and components.

Detailed diagnosis

Causes of changes in status (detailed information from devices and components) shall be automatically transmitted to higher-level systems.

Web server

If the devices can be configured via a web server, parameters shall be automatically matched across the entire system to prevent inconsistencies between data sets. The presentation and the parameters used shall be identical in the web server and the device package. The web server shall be provided with an access protection.


Transmission mechanisms shall comply with the state of the art in safety technology (e.g., encrypted and signed). The mechanisms for filtering and blocking shall also be state of the art (e.g., MAC address filters, whitelisting, blacklisting).


The network time shall be synchronized.

Time stamp

The protocols shall include a time stamp.


Authentication mechanisms shall be capable of verifying the authenticity of software and devices.

IP address

IPv6 addresses shall be used to address the devices.

Tag identification

The devices shall be identified by means of a freely configurable tag (at least 32 characters) and the MAC address.

Communication status

The system should be able to monitor the status of communication, including infrastructure components. This could be the transmission time between a field device and switch or the number of telegram repetitions.

Topology recognition

An engineering system shall be capable of automatically reflecting the logical plant topology and device hierarchy.


It shall be possible to implement redundant controls and infrastructure components to increase availability.

Life cycle

All devices and components shall be designed for a life cycle of more than 20 years under process industry conditions.

Compatibility and interoperability

During the entire life cycle, it shall be possible to retrofit new devices and components and replace old ones with new ones. Technical innovations shall be capable of running both new and old infrastructures and of adapting automatically to the existing infrastructure (e.g., bandwidth adaptation).

Integrating existing concepts

It is also necessary for existing fieldbus facilities to create transparent transitions between existing fieldbus and Ethernet systems. These transitions (proxies) shall have at least the same functionality as current fieldbus masters.


Certification shall ensure the conformity of devices and components with all requirements made. The certified devices shall be indicated at a central point (e.g., a website).


The costs of an Ethernet solution shall be comparable with those of 4-20 mA HART.

Industry cooperation

Other standards organizations are aligning to cooperate with the Industry 4.0 for Process initiative.

Networking: Ethernet/IP and Profinet 

Both ODVA and PROFIBUS & PROFINET International (PI) are working toward meeting the requirements, since NAMUR calls for protocols IEC 61784-2 CPF 2/2 Ethernet/IP and IEC 61784-2 CPF 3/5 Profinet IO CC B to become minimum binding requirements for the process industry (noting these protocols need to be revised to meet process industry requirements).

At the 2016 SPS IPC Drives Show, ODVA announced activities with NAMUR to advance the adoption of industrial Ethernet in the process industries. The focus will be an activity to continue the refinement of formal requirements for an Ethernet communication system for the process industry. This will be through a collaboration between WG 2.6 Fieldbus and the ODVA Special Interest Group for Ethernet/IP in the Process Industries (Process SIG). Among the topics of the cooperation are device diagnostics, defining a device profile for process devices for Ethernet/IP, and integration of HART devices into Ethernet/IP.

Another part of the cooperation was the installation of an Ethernet/IP system in the integration and industrial communication test laboratory at Industriepark Höchst, a center of the European process industry in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. “Multiple vendors are supporting the effort, including Endress+Hauser, Krohne, Rockwell Automation, and Schneider Electric,” said Olivier Wolff, ODVA Process SIG participant and employee of Endress+Hauser, a principal member of ODVA.

At a joint symposium, PI and NAMUR e.V. discussed the use of Ethernet in the process industry. The goal of the event was to evaluate, coordinate, and prioritize the requirements placed on an Ethernet communication system for process automation. The results of the discussions by experienced specialists from system and device manufacturers and expert users in this field were compiled in a position paper of the NAMUR WG 2.6 Fieldbus (convened by Sven Seintsch of Bilfinger). It will be the basis for the development of a next-generation digital communication system for use at process plants. Michael Pelz (Clariant Plastics & Coatings), head of NAMUR Working Area 2, Automation Systems for Processes and Plants, summarized the benefits of this activity, “Close cooperation between manufacturer and user organizations beginning at the early phase of a new technology unleashes great synergy potential. This provides the best opportunity for introducing a new technology, both cost effectively in production by the supplier and efficiently at the plants of the user.”

Dr. Peter Wenzel, managing director of PI, sees “special challenges for digital and networked communication structures” in the specific characteristics of the process industry, such as long plant service lives and accordingly long-term use of process control and field device technology, complex devices, and high requirements on security and availability. “This is why the successful introduction of an Ethernet-based communication system requires early coordination of requirements with users. The experts at PI are happy to engage in this task and are looking forward to intensive and fruitful cooperation with NAMUR experts.”

Industry 4.0 for Process is evolving and is consistent with other new initiatives for improving industrial automation system architectures.

About the Author
Bill Lydon is an automation industry expert, author, journalist and formerly served as chief editor of InTech magazine. Lydon has been active in manufacturing automation for more than 25 years. He started his career as a designer of computer-based machine tool controls; in other positions, he applied programmable logic controllers and process control technology. In addition to experience at various large companies, he co-founded and was president of a venture-capital-funded industrial automation software company. Lydon believes the success factors in manufacturing are changing, making it imperative to apply automation as a strategic tool to compete.

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A version of this article also was published at InTech magazine

Source: ISA News