Unified Namespace with SMARTUNIFIER

Discover how integrating SMARTUNIFIER with a Unified Namespace can revolutionize industrial data management.

Unified Namespace (UNS) is a powerful concept that is emerging as the basis of tools designed to streamline data integration and access within industrial environments. At a logical point of view, it centralizes data from various sources into a single, unified structure, making it easily accessible and manageable. Let’s dive into what UNS is and how SMARTUNIFIER can align with this approach to enhance industrial operations.

What is Unified Namespace?

When it comes to Industrial Data Connectivity you have to deal with a heterogeneous environment of software and hardware protocols, data types, data formats and their implementations, as well as many other issues. Despite cross-industry standardization efforts, especially concerning protocols, one artifact is, in most cases handled like an unwanted child:  the data and information itself.

The concept of Unified Namespace is dealing with this exact challenge. How are we able to build a standard between all communication partners within the Industrial Data Connectivity?

To stick with the history first, UNS bows down to the ISA95 automation pyramid as inspiration and shortly after puts it aside to build a logical, consolidated, and consistent data layer that aggregates and organizes data from all possible sources into a coherent and unified view, overcoming the boundaries between the ISA95 layers.

To stick with the history first, UNS bows down to the ISA95 automation pyramid as inspiration and shortly after puts it aside to build a logical, consolidated, and consistent data layer that aggregates and organizes data from all possible sources into a coherent and unified view, overcoming the boundaries between the ISA95 layers.

The challenge of ISA95 is the understanding that each layer exists for itself and the connectivity between them does not span over more than one layer. However, information does not care about these layers. Some information used in KPIs or displayed in a dashboard might spread across two, three, or even all layers.

Independently from these layers, UNS proposes, but in no way forces, the use of a number of distinctive hierarchical layers to build a structure for all data and information. In most sources and articles around UNS you will find this structure:

Independently from these layers, UNS proposes, but in no way forces, the use of a number of distinctive hierarchical layers to build a structure for all data and information. In most sources and articles around UNS you will find this structure:

This generic structure creates an information hierarchy, which in the end enables their consistency and consolidation. To realize UNS for specific use cases, it is advisable to add a sixth layer for the data itself. But remember, in the current understanding of UNS, there should be no defined number or dedicated meaning of layers as an industry standard.

This generic structure creates an information hierarchy, which in the end enables their consistency and consolidation. To realize UNS for specific use cases, it is advisable to add a sixth layer for the data itself. But remember, in the current understanding of UNS, there should be no defined number or dedicated meaning of layers as an industry standard.

The concept of Unified Namespace also proposes a centralized naming convention across all layers and structures. Let’s do this by discussing a real-life example.

Is Unified Namespace already part of SMARTUNIFIER?

To answer this question briefly: Yes.

Let’s use a structure for Amorph’s SMARTUNIFIER demonstrator for trade fairs, like HANNOVER MESSE, as an example. This demonstrator uses two simulated sensors (represented by two rotary knobs for manual setting of values) for equipment temperature and pressure, a real physical Siemens S7 PLC, and an edge PC.

The two information values, one for temperature, and one for pressure, could be modeled like this:

It is now obvious where the information comes from and that this information is now the basis for standardization within the company and within all information flows. In this example, the temperature value being shown in a dashboard clearly comes from the Siemens S7 PLC of the industrial company area of Site 1 of Amorph Systems. If you need to address this specific value you could write the complete path of this information as AmorphSystems.Site1.Industrial.SiemensS7PLC.TemperaturSimulator.Temperature.

It is now obvious where the information comes from and that this information is now the basis for standardization within the company and within all information flows. In this example, the temperature value being shown in a dashboard clearly comes from the Siemens S7 PLC of the industrial company area of Site 1 of Amorph Systems. If you need to address this specific value you could write the complete path of this information as AmorphSystems.Site1.Industrial.SiemensS7PLC.TemperaturSimulator.Temperature.

Of course, it is advisable to agree a standardized name schema within the company, which could look like the following example:

Following this naming schema, the address of the temperature value would be AMS.ST1.IND.S71.TMPS.dblTemp. This might look complicated and not readable at first glance, but in case you use SMARTUNIFIER you are able to model this hierarchy with practically unlimited levels and characteristics. Within SMARTUNIFIER Manager this tree may look like this and is represented in an absolutely readable way.

Following this naming schema, the address of the temperature value would be AMS.ST1.IND.S71.TMPS.dblTemp. This might look complicated and not readable at first glance, but in case you use SMARTUNIFIER you are able to model this hierarchy with practically unlimited levels and characteristics. Within SMARTUNIFIER Manager this tree may look like this and is represented in an absolutely readable way.

Information models- Smartunifier
Edit Information models Smartunifier

Unified Namespace in SMARTUNIFIER is a perfect match and is easy to implement and model as if there never has been another or even better solution.

The magic behind this is that SMARTUNIFIER uses Information Models to provide standardized naming and usage of data and information. But SMARTUNIFIER goes one step further.

It is not only the Unified Namespace for equipment – or “south side” as we call it – it is also the Unified Namespace for – “northbound” – higher-level production IT or business applications like MES, ERP, data lakes, or others. These might need a different hierarchical approach and may, of course, be configured differently within SMARTUNIFIER’s Information Models. According to the schema above this hierarchy and modeling could look like this:

These two different but conceptionally connected Unified Namespaces for south and north-bound devices and systems can now be connected by using SMARTUNIFIER’s low-code Mapping feature, which is the perfect supplement to the generic Unified Namespace concept.

But what is Unified Namespace in SMARTUNIFIER even good for?

Imagine you build a Unified Namespace for a condition monitoring use case that will be applied to your dedicated production line. This is strongly supported by the UNS concept. Imagine further you roll this Information Model out to other production lines or even production sites. This is an extension of the UNS understanding and is strongly supported by SMARTUNIFIER. Realize templates, realize standardized naming conventions, and realize one Unified Namespace for all equipment you have, independently from their protocols and subsequent usage.

The key characteristics of UNS within SMARTUNIFIER are therefore:

  • Centralized Data Access: All data, regardless of origin, is accessible from a single point.
  • Real-Time Data Integration: Data from various sources is integrated in real-time, ensuring up-to-date information.
  • Interoperability: Supports multiple industrial protocols and systems, facilitating seamless data flow across the organization.
  • Enhanced Data Quality: By providing a unified structure, it improves data consistency and accuracy.

Benefits of Unified Namespace with SMARTUNIFIER

  • Simplified Data Management: Reduces complexity by providing a single interface for data access and management.
  • Improved Decision-Making: Real-time, accurate data supports better operational and strategic decisions.
  • Scalability: Easily scales to accommodate growing data volumes and new data sources.
  • Cost Efficiency: Reduces the need for multiple data management tools and integrations, lowering costs.

Doing equipment integration with SMARTUNIFIER and Unified Namespace

SMARTUNIFIER is well-positioned to integrate with and leverage the benefits of a Unified Namespace. And there is more. UNS implies a strongly centralized approach. This in most cases is considered a Message Broker like an MQTT Broker or something similar. While SMARTUNIFIER configures its Information Models centrally using the SMARTUNIFIER Manager, the deployment of each communication instance is still decentralized. Each communication instance uses the same Information Models thus Unified Namespace. As soon as the instance connects via OPC-UA, PLC-oriented, or any other supported protocol this Unified Namespace is being used. This is also applicable to northbound connections via MQTT, AMQP, DDS, SQL, and many other protocols. This approach ensures unlimited scalability and performance.

In short:

  1. Decentralized Architecture with Centralized Access:
    • While UNS centralizes data access, SMARTUNIFIER’s decentralized architecture ensures that data collection and processing are reliable and resilient, enhancing overall system robustness.
  2. Interoperability and Compatibility:
    • SMARTUNIFIER’s ability to connect with diverse industrial protocols, MES, ERP, and cloud platforms makes it an ideal candidate for creating a comprehensive UNS.
  3. Scalability:
    • Designed to scale effortlessly, SMARTUNIFIER can grow with the needs of a Unified Namespace, handling increasing data volumes and complexity without compromising performance.
  4. Enhanced Data Quality:
    • By ensuring high-quality, reliable data integration, SMARTUNIFIER complements UNS’s goal of providing consistent and accurate data across the organization.

Conclusion

Using SMARTUNIFIER with the Unified Namespace approach can revolutionize industrial data management. The combination of SMARTUNIFIER’s decentralized, scalable, and user-friendly approach with the centralized, real-time, and interoperable nature of UNS creates a robust solution for modern industrial operations. This synergy not only simplifies data management but also enhances decision-making, operational efficiency, and cost-effectiveness.

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