Data exchange in Industry 4.0 applications
In the convergence of production (operational technology, or OT) and management (information technology, or IT), data exchange is an important issue. This is due to the large number of variables and non-standard interfaces, as well as the need to support access rights and specific security requirements. Although OPC UA is now established as the standard technology to achieve these goals, there are still huge challenges posed by the details to successfully deploy Industry 4.0 applications.
Interface abstraction, data aggregation and security
The dataFEED Secure Integration Server product from Softing Industrial serves as an abstract interface between OT and IT, providing users with a range of key functions that enable efficient data exchange in a single component. As an aggregation server, the middleware leverages OPC UA’s address space model, especially for interface abstraction and data aggregation. In the process, this interface abstraction handles changes or extensions in one domain (OT/IT) without any modification in the other domain. The advantage is clear, new IT applications can be easily integrated into the overall solution to take advantage of shorter innovation cycles in IT or to make targeted changes to the production environment. With data aggregation, data from multiple sources can be consolidated into a single OPC UA server, so IT applications now only need to access this server. The simplification of the communication infrastructure eases the configuration effort for the user.
dataFEED Secure Integration Server acts as an abstract interface between the OT and IT worlds
Another key feature of dataFEED Secure Integration Server is its built-in security model, with filters that can be used to limit the address space and definable types of access applied by a single OPCUA client. In addition to fully implementing OPC UA security features, it can define whitelists and blacklists to control data access from specific IP addresses, and also includes detection of Denial of Service (DoS) attacks against OPC UA authentication.
Direct benefits to customers
Whether customers keep their existing network configuration or plan to use it in a new factory, deploying dataFEED SecureIntegration Server when running Industry 4.0 applications will bring clear advantages. In a recent case, a leading power plant process control system integrator was challenged with the need to integrate 1.5 million variables into an overall system, and accessing such a large number of variables was a significant issue. However, accessing so many variables presents a huge challenge for many OPC UA clients. Therefore, the power plant’s application chose to use the variable filtering option to achieve targeted variable access restrictions for individual OPC UA clients. Additionally, only grant read access to individually configured variables, which prevents unauthorized overwriting of assigned data values.
A major automotive component supplier has also selected dataFEED Secure Integration Server to handle variable aggregation and filtering from multiple heterogeneous OPC UA servers, providing a standard unified interface for OPC UA clients to access all variables .In this case, customers need to implement state-of-the-art security standards, which is another key reason to choose this solution