Field Level Communications (FLC) Initiative

At the SPS IPC Drives Fair 2018 in Nuremberg, Germany the OPC Foundation officially launched the Field Level Communications (FLC) initiative. The Steering Committee (SC) of this initiative consists of 27 member companies that contribute with budget and technical experts.
The Steering Committee is responsible for the prioritization of FLC-related work, creating and approving the requirements for the technical solution and decision making for non-technical reasons.
The technical work is executed in different technical working groups that are open to all OPC Foundation members.

FLC Technical Working Groups

Architecture (Core) Working Group (Contact: clark.case_at_ra.rockwell.com)
Responsible overall to deliver a set of specifications that support the development of products (controllers and field devices). This group analyzes technical requirements to achieve target use cases, creates high level design documents, defines the architectural framework for sub working groups and reviews resp. integrates specification content from sub working groups.

Connecting Devices Working Group (Contact: georg.biehler_at_siemens.com)
Responsible to define mechanisms for configuration, startup, and operation of the network-related aspects including mechanisms and concrete definitions of required network state machines, mechanisms for device identification and device and topology discovery, mechanisms for management and distribution of various device addresses, and the definition of common profiles of network traffic types and their configuration. Work is related to the IEEE/IEC 60802 “Industrial TSN profile” as well as the OPC UA TSN Working Group.

Information Model Working Group (Contact: paul.hunkar_at_yokogawa.com)
Responsible for specifying the common interfaces, behaviors and state machines of devices and controllers. This group defines mechanisms for describing device identity, status and diagnosis, mechanisms for configuring and monitoring device communications, mechanisms for configuring and monitoring device security, mechanisms for configuring and monitoring real time data exchange between automation field devices, as well as a general structure for an information model for an automation field device. This group will be creating the overall basis and structure into which device-specific profiles (e.g. Motion) will fit including the overall structuring of the profile approach.

Offline Engineering Working Group (Contact: Emanuel.kolb_at_de.abb.com)
This working group defines mechanism to allow engineering of the system before the physical components are delivered to a project. The offline configuration scheme is developed for simple, complex and modular field devices and other FLC components. The scope of work includes the mechanism for an engineering tool to deploy an offline configuration to the system when it comes online.

Safety Working Group (Contact: max.walter_at_siemens.com)
Responsible to support inter-vendor interoperability of safety devices such as safety controllers, functionally safe digital and analog IO, and electric drives with safety functions. To achieve this, the WG will specify interfaces and behaviors, which are typical for safety devices. OPC UA Safety is using a black channel approach to specify all safety communication for controller-to-controller as well as controller-to-device.

Motion Working Group (Contact: rick.blair_at_schneider-electric.com)
Responsible to drive inter-vendor interoperability of motion devices, like standard drives, frequency converters, positioning drives, servo drives and motion encoders. To achieve this, the WG will specify interfaces and behaviors, which are typical for motion devices.

Prototyping Working Group (Contact: jgomesda_at_qti.qualcomm.com)
Responsible to generate concepts for prototyping and to coordinate the implementation of prototypes in order to verify the specification drafts that are generated by the FLC working groups. The group also works on possible optimizations and propose specification enhancements to the working groups that generate specifications.

Test Development Working Group (Contact: thomas.schreck_at_schneider-electric.com)
Responsible for all work to enable the certification of FLC devices. The group is defining test cases based on conformance units, profiles & facets that are defined by the various FLC-related working groups. In addition, the group coordinates the test script development in collaboration with the OPC Compliance Work Group.

FLC Steering Committee and Subgroups

Participation is open to all OPCF member companies that sign up for the FLC Steering Committee. For additional information please contact the FLC Director (contact details below).

Steering Committee (Contact: thomas.brandl3_at_boschrexroth.de)
The responsibility of the FLC Steering Committee is to manage and control the FLC-related technical development and the FLC-related marketing activities in alignment with the committees and activities of the OPC Foundation.

FA/PA Requirements Subgroup (Contact: peter.lutz_at_opcfoundation.org)
This working group defines functional and non-functional requirements for applications and use cases in Factory and Process Automation. Furthermore, the group gives recommendations for required and optional functionality. Two subcommittees have been established that elaborate specific requirements for cyber security (Contact: didier.giarratano_at_se.com) and motion (Contact: mcooper_at_ra.rockwell.com).

TSN Expert Assessment Subgroup (Contact: rene.hummen_at_belden.com)
This working group is responsible for facilitating a close alignment between the IEC/IEEE 60802, IEEE 802.1 and OPC UA PubSub TSN.

Certification Requirements Subgroup (Contact: david.mccall_at_intel.com)
This working group is responsible for analyzing the requirements for testing and certifying FLC controllers and devices.

Marketing Working Subgroup (Contact: peter.lutz_at_opcfoundation.org)
Responsible for all marketing activities related to the FLC Initiative to ensure that all stakeholders in FLC technology (users, system integrators, machine builders, software and device vendors) can understand the unique value offered by FLC. This group also ensures that the device and software provider community can understand the technical approaches and that support is available to implement FLC in their offerings.

Publications (for download)

  • Download FLC Initiative Flyer here
  • Download FLC Initiative Technical Paper here
  • Download APL Brochure (English) here
  • Download APL Brochure (Japanese) here

Contact Point

  • Peter Lutz, Director FLC OPC Foundation peter.lutz_at_opcfoundation.org