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Most of the vast amounts of data in manufacturing companies are difficult to use. It is stored in production machines, systems and devices or in sensors installed in them. Interfaces for IT or in the cloud were usually not planned for during their development. Now Siemens has announced that it will be offering solutions for precisely this purpose under the brand name Field Data Enablement (FDE) starting in April. As hardware and as software.

The hardware solution: Simatic FDE Gateway (Image Siemens)

Currently – according to a press release from Siemens on March 3 – only about 20 % of the total amount of data is used. Until now, data has been made available to IT systems by the control system sending data from the store floor to edge or cloud systems. As a result, data that is not available in the control system, such as commissioning information, remains inaccessible to IT. FDE now makes it possible to merge data from IT and OT without having to reprogram the controller. This makes OT data accessible to IT systems, which would otherwise remain unused or could only be accessed with great effort and not without repercussions when production plants are running.

Field Data Enablement via hardware or software

FDE will be available from April as a hardware solution or as an app. Both can be used independently of each other. The SIMATIC FDE Gateway can be used to access devices from the field level that are not connected to the automation or control system via a permanent bus connection.

The Field Data Enabler PROFINET App software solution can be installed on a SIMATIC IPC. Data acquisition is performed in parallel with the automation via an existing PROFINET connection. In addition, the app can use this connection to directly access all data from field devices that are connected to the decentralized peripheral system via IO-Link. In this way, OT data, such as valuable status information from the sensor, can be made available to IT. Secure, data-driven decisions are made possible by this convergence of IT and OT.

Easy implementation into the green or brownfield

Additional retrofitting of sensor technology is not required. Users can now use sensors they already use for automation at the OT level for further analysis in the IT environment. Siemens promises simple configuration without programming. Instead of programming, as is the case with IoT solutions, all that is required is configuration of the information that already exists. In addition, parameters such as context and semantic reference can be reused and no redefinition is necessary.

FDE part of Xcelerator – FDE app to become container solution

The new offering is part of Xcelerator. The FDE app is initially an independent software for Linux-based industrial PCs. However, it will soon also be available as a container solution for Siemens Industrial Edge. This makes it one of the innovations announced in the interview on “Composable Software” series for Hannover Messe in this direction.