ECLASS is proactively helping to develop Industry 4.0 and presents a revolutionary new concept of Distributed Ledger-based Infrastructure for Industrial Digital Twins in this new whitepaper :
To master digitalization of industry the comprehensive availability of information is a key requirement. This is why concepts like the asset administration shell (AAS) and digital twins (DT) have been created.
The Plattform Industrie 4.0 as well as industry associations like VDMA (Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbauer) and ZVEI (Zentralverband Elektrotechnik- und Elektronikindustrie) continuously work on developing new standards which tackle the challenge of getting the right information at the right time with minimal effort.
ECLASS with its semantic catalog and classification system builds the basis for a semantically correct description of information. Furthermore ECLASS enables machines to automatically identify information within an asset administration shell.
The DIN SPEC 91406  describes a schema on how a globally unique ID of an asset can be generated in the form of a URL. This globally unique ID is meant to be used to link the physical asset to the information about the physical asset in IT systems. One possibility to link the AAS to the asset is to provide the AAS under the corresponding URL conforming to DIN SPEC 91406. This procedure is the most obvious way to use both standards together, but it has several downsides when it comes to referencing information via the internet.
- The assetID is static and cannot be changed. When directly using it as an AASID, the AAS must not be moved to another location as the assetID printed on the asset which is already deployed to the field cannot be changed anymore.
- The URL schema binds the asset to an owner of a domain name, a transfer to another domain is not possible.
- Current approaches for identity management in the context of Industrie 4.0 (I4.0) are based on centralized approaches. These are based on a centralized registry and authentication server to ensure the identification and authentication of assets and their DTs.
- From the authors' point of view, the centralized approach is a first valid step towards short term realization of I4.0 applications but does not fully correspond with the long term visions of I4.0, which underlines the highly decentralized character of future digital ecosystems without components that can assume a centralized monopoly position and whose nonavailability can affect the secure operation of the overall system.
Within this Whitepaper an approach is introduced to realize a decentralized registry for services offered around I4.0 components. How this decentralized registry is applied in practice is explained using five practice-relevant use cases which span the whole lifecycle of the asset. The use cases show how the decentralized registry can be implemented, how external services can be associated to an I4.0 component and how users can access the services. Furthermore the use cases show how operators can associate a second AAS beside the manufacturer’s AAS which is then under the control of the operator. Other use cases describe the possibility to qualify asset administration shells by third parties as well as a decentralized identity and access management for services listed in the decentralized registry. ECLASS is mainly used to describe the services as well as attributes within certificates for authorization and qualification of an AAS.
The concept of the I4.0 components, which are seen as decentralized building blocks for the future I4.0 system, and the decentralized registry complement each other and form an organically integrated whole. The proposed decentralized registry in combination with a decentralized identity management of assets and its DTs set a significant milestone on the way to the future open global digital ecosystems.