Digital twin automatically up to date

How existing plants learn how to speak OPC UA with their documentation

One of AUCOTEC's priorities is to support plant operators on their path to digitization. At the Nuremberg automation trade fair SPS 2019, it was possible for the first time to follow directly at the AUCOTEC stand how existing plants, regardless of how old they are, automatically keep their digital twin up to date with respect to every change.

OPC UA translator from Phoenix Contact

AUCOTEC's platform Engineering Base (EB) is the single source of truth for the mapping of the plant. EB's cross-disciplinary data model uses OPC UA based on NOA (Namur Open Architecture) to detect when a device is changed or replaced in the plant. The fact that all field devices that were not previously OPC-UA-compatible can now communicate via this protocol is due to the new "HART IP gateway" from Phoenix Contact, which can be easily clamped to a top-hat rail in the field distributor, and "translates" the usual HART signals of the devices into OPC UA.

AUCOTEC and Phoenix Contact presented this solution together for the first time at the Annual General Meeting of Namur in early November. At AUCOTEC's stand, visitors will be able to see live how a device replacement is instantly reflected in the entire plant documentation. EB's object orientation, web capability, and OPC UA understanding make this just as possible as the Phoenix gateway, which avoids the use of expensive remote I/Os or the replacement of functional devices just because they do not have an OPC UA interface.

Communication of plant and engineering systemAUCOTEC AG

Live and automatic: current "health status"

Operators can thus not only be sure that they have the current status of their plants at all times. EB is also able to map the Namur recommendation NE 107 to every object in every view, from graphics to list. This means that every single "health status" is recognizable, which shows, for example, whether a device is functioning properly, whether there is an error, or maintenance is required.

Updating data rather than documents!

"All this information is available directly on the object in EB. EB is data-driven and non-file-based, and thus does not update documents, but the complete data model of the digital twin," stressed Product Manager Martin Imbusch.

At the end of 2018, AUCOTEC, together with the University of Magdeburg and the IGR (Interessengemeinschaft Regelwerke Technik) in Höchst, was the first provider to demonstrate in a pilot plant that plants could communicate with their digital twin and how this was possible. This has now become a practical solution for real-world plants.