The death of proprietary networks on the factory floor: Page 2 of 2

September 07, 2016 //By Jonathan Wilkins, EU Automation
Like it or not, we live in modern world of fluidity and interconnectedness in which the once ordinary now transcends all previous boundaries. Take the humble kettle for instance. It's a sign of the times that you can now purchase a kettle you can control from your phone via the internet. It will even send you notifications when it needs filling or if it's at optimum temperature. Because it was hard to tell before. Joking aside, one place where interconnectivity really is making a difference is on the factory floor.

Standard communication protocols like the OPC Foundation's Unified Architecture (OPC UA) give compatible devices function blocks that are able to communicate over industry standard Ethernet using common data models.

Using proprietary protocols to access a range of machines is no longer necessary because of the widespread application of international standards based on OPC UA, PLCopen, and industry standard web services.

Furthermore, communication isn't limited to the factory floor. These standards transcend the automation pyramid and allow PCs on the enterprise level to transfer information with sensor level devices.

The IoT looks like it will continue its merciless path to connect more and more machines, as well as incorporating humans into the mix - let's take a minute to remember the smart kettle. We therefore have to ask whether proprietary protocols and networks will ever make a resurgence, or have they had their day? We know which side we're rooting for.

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