LADS – Laboratory Agnostic Device Standard

Goal
The goal of LADS is to create a manufacturer-independent, open standard for analytical and laboratory equipment that comprehensively reflects the different customer industries and their respective workflows, is sustainably applicable and also meets future requirements of digitalization and automation. LADS will be based on OPC UA which is the open communication platform for cross-vendor communication and interoperability in industrial automation processes developed and promoted by the international non-profit organization OPC Foundation.

Today’s laboratory infrastructures are made up of many highly specialised devices from a wide range of manufacturers. Different interfaces and data formats make it difficult to network these devices with each other and to integrate them into existing IT infrastructures. However, this is the most important prerequisite for end-to-end digitalization and efficient automation. Currently, there is no comprehensive, efficient and robust solution for this.

Cooperation partners
The LADS Joint Working Group (JWG) is an initiative of “cooperating parties” composed of the following organizations:

  • OPC Foundation (OPCF),
  • SPECTARIS and
  • Mechanical Engineering Industry Association (VDMA),

The LADS JWG will develop an OPC UA Information Model for analytical and laboratory equipment.
The objective of this group is the creation of a Laboratory Agnostic Device Standard (LADS), a manufacturer-independent open standard, which comprehensively takes on board the requirements of various branches, disciplines and business processes, and is sustainable and adaptable to future requirements in the field of digitalization and automation.

Scope
The information model specified by LADS will be defined into a UA companion specification using OPC UA constructs for the purpose of exposing information for selected high-level use-cases including monitoring & control, notification, program & result management, asset management and maintenance to OPC UA applications.

Due to the very diverse nature of device types utilized in laboratories, the UA companion specification LADS will follow a device-type agnostic information modelling approach. Individual information models for specific device types of equipment (agnostic approach) would invariably result in an unmanageable level of complexity. Innovation cycles, short in comparison to other branches, would demand the equally short-term development of associated standards. The general and agnostic information modeling approach utilized by LADS is well suited for overarching device integration as required by the targeted-high level use cases in a future proof manner:

This companion specification shall follow patterns and practices of other existing OPC UA companion specifications like OPC10020 (ADI) whenever useful and practicable. It will be based on OPC10000-100 Devices.
The development of the specification and its feature shall be guided by user stories, use cases and market requirements provided by the participating members.

Proposed Project Schedule
There was already preparation work done by an interested group of “cooperating parties” members to define the scope and schedule for the specification phase of this working group. The working group suggests the timetable as follows:

  • August 2020 Call for participation
  • October 2020 Electronic kick-off meeting with introduction to LADS and OPC UA incl. overview of OPC UA information modelling and LADS information model
  • October 2020 Finalization of high-level architecture
  • October 2020 Start LADS prototyping
  • January 2022 Start reference implementation
  • December 2022 Reference implementation completed
  • January 2024 Final draft (Release Candidate)

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