Open Source universal protocol adapter powers Industry 4.0 by connecting and integrating Industrial hardware and IoT edge gateways once blocked by closed-source, proprietary legacy systems, incompatible protocols, and vendor lock-in.
Wakefield, MA —23 April 2019— The Apache Software Foundation (ASF), the all-volunteer developers, stewards, and incubators of more than 350 Open Source projects and initiatives, announced today Apache® PLC4X™ as a Top-Level Project (TLP). Apache PLC4X also has the designation as being the 200th project to graduate from the Apache Incubator.
Apache PLC4X is a universal protocol adapter for creating Industrial IoT applications through a set of libraries that allow unified access to a wide range of industrial programmable logic controllers (PLCs) using a variety of protocols with a shared API. The project was originally developed at codecentric AG, and entered the Apache Incubator in December 2017.
"There is a lot of hype about ‘Industry 4.0,’ ‘industrial IoT,’ and ‘digitization’, however, there’s unfortunately been no viable way to access industrial PLCs from the Open Source world," said Christofer Dutz, Vice President of Apache PLC4X. "Apache PLC4X is the missing link between Open Source and the reality on today’s industrial shop floor. We are proud that PLC4X is helping redefine how industrial software is created, and graduating as an Apache Top-Level Project is an important milestone in solidifying our project’s maturity."
Connectivity and integration across industrial hardware and IoT edge gateways is often impossible with closed-source, proprietary legacy systems, incompatible protocols, and locked-in vendor solutions. Not only is Apache PLC4X an API for communicating with industrial hardware, it also provides a set of drivers for communicating using a variety of industrial protocols. In addition, PLC4X ships with a wide variety of integration modules to make it easy to use in other Open Source solutions and frameworks.
Companies needing unified access to any type of industrial PLCs are choosing Apache PLC4X to capture actionable intelligence through a growing number of interconnected systems and sensors.
"We build industrial IoT solutions and do edge computing in the industrial ecosystem, thus PLC connection is an important concern for us but no part of our core business," said Julian Feinauer, CEO at pragmatic industries GmbH. "As there were no open alternatives, we used our own home-made stack for PLC communication and regularly had issues with edge cases or bugs. We moved to Apache PLC4X about half a year ago and already see the payoff of the initial efforts. Since moving to PLC4X we see a massive performance boost, have connectors to more types of PLCs, and reached very good stability."
"At first we intended to use OPC-UA to establish a connection between our software and the PLC in question," said Andreas Wieland, Technology Consultant at Intelligent Data Analytics GmbH & Co. KG. "We decided to switch to Apache PLC4X for various reasons. One of the major advantages PLC4X has over OPC-UA is a measurable performance improvement and higher responsiveness due to its direct low-level access of variables provided by the PLC. With PLC4X we are able to support a wide range of systems without additional effort or the need of making changes to our software while keeping compatibility to a number of well-known standards."
"Cost and lack of interoperability are significant hurdles in the digital transformation of the shop floor," said Dr. Boris Adryan, Chief Digital Organization at Merck KGaA. "Open Source software can help to overcome these hurdles. We’ve assessed Apache PLC4X on a training setup for chemical engineers and plant operators, and find it a valuable addition to our toolbox of OT/IT interfaces."
Written in Java with support for various protocols including S7-Step7, Modbus, EtherNet/IP, and Beckhoff ADS, future versions of Apache PLC4X will include versions in C++ and C#, as well as support for BACnet, Emerson DeltaV, KNXNet/IP, Profinet, and other protocols. In addition to providing integrations modular to Apache IoT projects such as Apache Camel, Apache Edgent (incubating), Apache Kafka, and Apache NiFi, the project is planning to also add Apache Brooklyn and Apache Mynewt, among others.
"The past two years have been very challenging, but also very rewarding. It is clear how Apache PLC4X can really help make a difference, and we’re excited to build upon our work thus far," added Dutz. "We invite those interested to join us and help bring the benefits of The Apache Way in developing open software, open communities, and sharing knowledge to the industry."
Catch Apache PLC4X in action at Jug Thüringen (18 June in Erfurt, Germany), ApacheCon North America (9-12 September in Las Vegas, United States), and ApacheCon Europe (22-24 October in Berlin, Germany).
Availability and Oversight
Apache PLC4X software is released under the Apache License v2.0 and is overseen by a self-selected team of active contributors to the project. A Project Management Committee (PMC) guides the Project’s day-to-day operations, including community development and product releases. For downloads, documentation, and ways to become involved with Apache PLC4X, visit http://plc4x.apache.org/
About the Apache Incubator
The Apache Incubator is the entry path for projects and codebases wishing to become part of the efforts at The Apache Software Foundation. All code donations from external organizations and existing external projects seeking to join the ASF enter through the Incubator to: 1) ensure all donations are in accordance with the ASF legal standards; and 2) develop new communities that adhere to our guiding principles. Incubation is required of all newly accepted projects until a further review indicates that the infrastructure, communications, and decision making process have stabilized in a manner consistent with other successful ASF projects. While incubation status is not necessarily a reflection of the completeness or stability of the code, it does indicate that the project has yet to be fully endorsed by the ASF. For more information, visit http://incubator.apache.org/
About The Apache Software Foundation (ASF)
Established in 1999, the all-volunteer Foundation oversees more than 350 leading Open Source projects that provide $20B+ worth of Apache Open Source software to the public at 100% no cost. Through the ASF’s merit-based process known as "The Apache Way," more than 730 individual Members and 7,000 Committers across six continents successfully collaborate to develop freely available enterprise-grade software, benefiting billions of users worldwide: thousands of software solutions are distributed under the Apache License; and the community actively participates in ASF mailing lists, mentoring initiatives, and ApacheCon, the Foundation’s official user conference, trainings, and expo. The ASF is a US 501(c)(3) charitable organization, funded by individual donations and corporate sponsors including Aetna, Alibaba Cloud Computing, Anonymous, ARM, Baidu, Bloomberg, Budget Direct, Capital One, Cerner, Cloudera, Comcast, Facebook, Google, Handshake, Hortonworks, Huawei, IBM, Indeed, Inspur, Leaseweb, Microsoft, ODPi, Pineapple Fund, Pivotal, Private Internet Access, Red Hat, Target, Tencent, Union Investment, Workday, and Verizon Media. For more information, visit http://apache.org/
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