Traditional automation technologies have been developed and controlled by a single (or small group) of companies that require their version of hardware and software to be used. While this enables those companies to control quality, it creates single-source lock-in, which limits users’ options for integrating new technologies, thus reducing competition and motivation for new entrants to address cutting edge challenges. Open Process Automation (OPA) technologies allow products from multiple vendors to interoperate as a single, cohesive system, thus enabling increased options and competition for delivering future innovation.
T&E automation and modernization share a great deal in common with broader industrial automation markets and technologies. Standards developed and maintained by organizations such as the International Society for Automation (ISA), and targeting large industrial markets including discrete and process manufacturing, can provide great benefit to T&E automation initiatives. Applicable standards include:
• ISA-106: Procedure Automation for Continuous Process Operations
• ISA-95: Enterprise-Control System Integration
• ISA-18.2: Management of Alarm Systems for Process Industries
In addition to the ISA standards listed above, in 2019 the Open Process Automation Forum, O-PAF, a standards organization managed by The Open Group, released version 1.0 of the Open Process Automation Standard (O-PAS). This standard incorporates the real-time and virtual computing capabilities required for process automation.
OPA is a key enabler for industry 4.0 organizations as it is the glue that enables desperate systems from different suppliers to interoperate and function as a single, cohesive unit. By embracing OPA technologies, your organization can reduce risk, reduce downtime, reduce energy consumption, improve safety, and improve automation and efficiency.
Seamless intuitive incorporation of varied solutions into a common ecosystem addresses a substantial roadblock to implementing continuous improvement in digital engineering and digital transformation applications. The long-held practice of limiting control equipment to a single technology platform from a single vendor provided considerable benefits in previous decades, however recent technology advances and expectations of the present-day digital worker and digital consumer demand a change.
The most beneficial solutions for digital engineering and digital transformation are not made available from any single supplier of digital solutions at any single point in time. Remaining competitive requires integration of a multitude of seemingly disparate technologies in such a way as to act as a single organism. Applying open process automation concepts removes innovation roadblocks by allowing engineers and manufacturers to seamlessly integrate solutions from multiple providers. No longer locked into a single control platform, engineers will enjoy greater choice and be able to implement stepwise improvements continuously for every product iteration and throughout the life of manufacturing assets.