Universal Connectivity in Industry 4.0


To enjoy Industry 4.0 benefits, manufacturers must establish instant, automatic and universal communications protocols amongst devices and locations

Machine vision is a critical component of any industrial automation system and will continue to be essential to the development of Industry 4.0's smart factories. Vision equipment will able to communicate with other devices on the line via both emerging and established common protocols.

To employ remote access to the production line from virtual private networks, plants will need to establish consistent procedures for user login and authentication, privilege setting, activity recording and linking between protocols and appropriate IT directories and databases. Protocols will likely need to be configured and disseminated according to universal standards that can be "spoken" by all devices, regardless of manufacturer or function.

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Several universal protocols are currently in development:

OPC Unified Architecture


OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA) or "The Industrial Interoperability Standard," was established by the independent OPC Foundation, of which Cognex is a member. It has been championed by the German Industrie 4.0 Committee. In 2016, in conjunction with the European automation engineering organization VDMA, the OPC Foundation started a Vision subcommittee to create an "OPC UA Machine Vision Companion Specification."

Open DeviceNet Vendor Association


The Open DeviceNet Vendor Association (ODVA) (of which Cognex is a member) owns and is advancing the specifications for Ethernet/IP and DeviceNet towards universal interoperability.

FANUC Intelligence Edge Link and Drive


One of the more recent entrants, the Intelligent Edge Link and Drive (FIELD) system, is being developed in a private industry collaboration among FANUC Corporation, (a Japan-based global supplier of robotics and factory automation); Cisco Systems; Rockwell Automation; and Preferred Networks, a provider of Artificial Intelligence solutions. A private industry collaboration led by FANUC is developing communication protocols for Industry 4.0.

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