What is a Unified Namespace and How Does it Work in Manufacturing?

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What is a Unified Namespace and How Does it Work in Manufacturing?

unified namespace (UNS) provides a single point of access for all manufacturing data within an organization. It aggregates data from various sources like orders, historical records, telemetry, and execution information.

Instead of functioning as a single version of the truth, a UNS acts as a “single access point” to data. This means that while a UNS pulls data from other systems, it serves as a central repository for accessing that data.

Benefits of a UNS in Manufacturing

A UNS enables manufacturers to:

  • Improve Real-Time Decision Making: It provides a central location for accessing real-time data, giving a comprehensive view of operations.
  • Enable Predictive Maintenance: By providing real-time data and baselines for comparison, UNS helps identify deviations and anomalies, enabling proactive maintenance.
  • Facilitate Integration: It provides a standard structure and location for devices and applications to exchange data, simplifying the integration of new and legacy systems.

How is a UNS Structured?

A UNS often utilizes the ISA 95 hierarchical standard for organizing information. This involves structuring data based on:

  • Company: The overall organization.
  • Site: Individual manufacturing locations.
  • Area: Sections within a site.
  • Line: Production lines within an area.
  • Asset: Specific equipment or machines.

Data organization can also be based on functionality, information content, or definitions, depending on the specific use case.

Technology for Implementing a UNS

MQTT brokers are frequently employed in UNS implementations due to their suitability for:

  • Data Federation: Aggregating data from various sources and levels (site, functional area, enterprise).
  • Publish-Subscribe Model: Efficiently distributing real-time data to multiple subscribers.
  • Hierarchical Topic Structure: Organizing data based on the UNS framework.
  • Built-in Security: Features for managing data access and security.

While MQTT brokers are commonly used, other technologies and protocols like REST or databases can also be integrated into a UNS architecture.

Key Considerations for Implementing a UNS

  • People and Process Alignment: Establishing data governance procedures, determining the types of data to manage, and aligning company culture with UNS principles are crucial.
  • Topic Structure: Defining a consistent structure for organizing data across different sites or systems.
  • Security: Implementing appropriate mechanisms like identity and access management.
  • Data Encoding and Formatting: Standardizing data representation using protocols like Sparkplug B.

Measuring ROI of UNS Projects

  • Hard Savings: Directly quantifiable benefits like reduced downtime due to predictive maintenance.
  • Soft Savings: Indirect benefits like improved decision-making and operational efficiency.
  • Increased Project Capacity: UNS enables OT and IT teams to scale their capabilities, allowing them to implement more projects and deliver value faster.

By focusing on specific use cases, aligning people and processes, and leveraging suitable technologies, manufacturers can harness the power of a UNS to unlock significant operational benefits.

Source: “Beyond Silos: Streamlining Data Flow with a Unified Namespace” session sponsored by HighByte, HiveMQ, and EMQ Technologies at the IIoT World Manufacturing Days. This is an excerpt from the discussion summarized by notebooklm based on the session’s video transcript. It was verified and edited by IIoT World’s team.

For more insights, watch the session on-demand.