Unified Namespace: What is UNS? (Examples and Tips)

Christian Berg
March 28, 2023
39 min read

Unified Namespace is expected to become the next step in evolution of data-driven industrial automation systems. In this article, we have gathered everything you need to know about this technology that aims to serve as a centralized repository of real-time data collected from every piece of equipment and every system within the enterprise network environment.

Unified namespace (UNS)


Unified Namespace is supposed to be the next step in evolution of data-driven industrial automation systems, forming a “single source of truth for all data and information” across any organization’s infrastructure. Having originally mentioned this technology in the article about data historians, today we’d like to talk about unified namespace in more detail, summarizing everything you need to know about these data solutions, their role in enabling the operations of a modern-day Industry 5.0-ready enterprise network, and technical aspects of implementing a unified namespace on top of your existing industrial automation infrastructure.

What is Unified Namespace (UNS)?

Unified namespace (UNS) is a relatively new technology, so it comes as no surprise that even people working in the industrial automation field, let alone others, can be unfamiliar with this concept and the technical solution that it describes. So let’s begin with clarifying what UNS actually is.  

Unified namespace is a software layer in the industrial automation system of the future, which acts as a centralized repository of all data collected from sensors, IIoT devices, machines, robotic solutions and other system components, as well as all its context.

“The Unified Namespace is a single source of truth for all data and information in your business. It’s a place where the current state of the business exists (where it lives). It’s the hub through which the smart things in your business communicate with one another,” said Walker Reynolds, an IIoT and Industry 4.0 solutions architect, online educator and one of the main popularizers of this concept in industrial automation environments.

According to the expert, UNS will play a foundational role in the enterprise IT infrastructure of the future and architecture of any digital transformation project in the Industry 4.0/5.0 era.

UNS is an example of an event-driven architecture (EDA) software design pattern, which will be explained in more details below.

A typical unified namespace consists of a physical storage facility where all the data is stored, an API that allows all software applications and systems within an organization to access the data stored in UNS, and a combination of software and hardware systems used to collect the data from the network components that can’t be connected to the UNS directly.

UNS records and presents only the current, real-time, state of every process, application or data stream. In order to access the historical time series data, another system component is required: the data lake.

Let’s dig a little deeper into the concept of a data lake as well.

What is a data lake?

A data lake collects and stores all the historical data across the industrial automation system components and infrastructure elements, including SCADAs, ERPs, and MES (manufacturing execution systems). The data is collected and stored in all native formats and structures — structured, semistructured, and unstructured.

Utilizing a data lake enables companies to store the data from all the sources within their enterprise network in one place, allowing company employees to quickly find and access the information they need, perform the analysis and collaborate on it in real time.

Data lake vs. data warehouse

There’s another concept that can be confusingly similar to data lake. It’s the data warehouse. Let’s clarify what is the difference between these two.

Data warehouse is a database that collects only relational data coming from line-of-business systems and applications, with the structure of data defined initially for fast SQL queries. A data lake, on the other hand, stores both the relational and non-relational data from all apps, devices, software and other sources within the organizational network. The structure of the collected data is not defined.

What is event-driven architecture?

Event-driven architecture (EDA) is a software design pattern focused on providing the architecture for the development of scalable and manageable highly loaded systems with large amounts of data and multiple applications. EDA as a design pattern is focused on events generated by various system components (applications, sensors, PLCs and other elements), and then detected, received and consumed by multiple other nodes within the enterprise network.

The event-driven architecture has been gaining momentum in recent years as a way to build data-intensive solutions able to handle a significant load generated by a multitude of network components. It provides system engineers with a software design framework that can support truly flexible and scalable solutions processing large amounts of data in real time.

As its name suggests, in the event-driven architecture, the system is built around events as the driving force behind network interactions. The event can be defined as a significant change in the state of a network element, generated by any component inside or outside the organization, including human users, software systems, sensors, etc.

Events within an EDA-based network are generated by the so-called event producers and consumed by event consumers (any part of the network requiring the data update from the producing node). In return to an event received, a consumer then might save it to a data lake or data historian or activate a new process as a response to the update. All events in EDA are immutable (cannot be changed or deleted) and published in a time series order.

EDA enables quick and easy real-time processing of data, simplifying the event synchronization between a large number of network nodes. The main benefits of using EDA-based industrial automation systems is that they can significantly improve the efficiency of data management and make functional integrations of different network components between each other much easier to implement.

Why implement unified namespace (UNS)

Why implement UNS?

Implementation of a unified namespace can provide a multitude of benefits to an organization, boosting efficiency, streamlining communication between various teams and employees, improving safety, reducing costs, minimizing production errors, etc.

All of this can be achieved because UNS makes it much easier for a company to establish and maintain IT infrastructure that provides humans across every layer of enterprise structure with an ability to get the right data at the right time.

In order to understand why UNS is so beneficial as part of a next-generation industrial automation system, we need to look at the traditional industrial architecture first. It has a number of weaknesses compared to a UNS-based architecture.

Weaknesses of traditional pre-UNS industrial architecture

The traditional architecture that is still currently used in the majority of industrial automation systems is a hierarchical structure. In line with this model, all platforms that are part of the enterprise IT network are connected in a pyramidal structure where each software layer is sharing data only with the layers that are directly above or below. This way, the data can only move sequentially up or down from one layer to the other via point-to-point connections between them.

Let’s take a look at the most notable weaknesses of this approach to industrial data utilization.

It requires multiple point-to-point data connections.

In order to enable the transmission of data from an industrial machine or PLCs (programmable logic controllers) into the cloud with traditional architecture, multiple point-to-point data connections are required. The data from PLC, for example, should go to SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system, then to MES (manufacturing execution system), from MES to ERP, and only then from ERP to the cloud.

High costs.

Needless to say, such an approach is not very efficient, as both the implementation of multiple point-to-point data connections and maintenance of such a system is quite expensive.

Data formats incompatibility.

Another big problem about the hierarchical structure of data integration is that different enterprise software systems, like SCADAs and ERPs, typically use varying formats of data, which makes it additionally time-consuming as the same data needs to be converted in compatible formats when it travels across the layers of enterprise IT infrastructure system.

Gaps in data and delays in its delivery.

Due to the factors described above, the data received via this traditional vertical architecture often is low-quality with errors and gaps. Additionally, it requires high-speed connections, consuming large volumes of traffic and causing delays in data delivery when bandwidth is not high enough.

Poor scalability.

The need to implement multiple point-to-point data connections from top to bottom of enterprise IT infrastructure also makes solutions based on such architecture very difficult and expensive to scale.

Breeding ground for technical debt.

With so many data integrations, application interfaces and data formats involved, such systems also quickly accumulate technical debt, becoming increasingly more problematic over time.

Benefits of Unified Namespace architecture

A unified namespace architecture, on the other hand, is typically built on top of just one communication interface that connects every layer of the network to a centralized repository of data that contains all information about the hierarchical structure of all system components.

Typically, a UNS architecture is built on top of one of the most common IIoT protocols. Most commonly, an MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport) broker is used for these purposes.

MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport) is a lightweight publish-subscribe industrial communication network protocol that transports messages between devices. MQTT was designed for remote locations and connections with high-latency, low-bandwidth and unreliable networks.

MQTT is one of the main messaging protocols used in IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) systems. Due to its simplicity and flexibility, today MQTT is commonly used in embedded environments for machine-to-machine communication and becoming a de-facto standard open-source protocol for connecting IoT devices.

In the UNS architecture, an MQTT broker serves as an intermediary entity, receiving data from network nodes and transmitting it to relevant subscribers. An IIoT gateway is used to put components that are not IIoT-ready behind it. MQTT protocol is utilized in UNS solutions most commonly as it has open architecture, is lightweight, edge-driven, and supports reports by exception. We will talk about the importance of these four factors when integrating a UNS solution in the following sections.

Here are the most notable benefits of implementing UNS architecture compared to traditional hierarchical models.

One-stop access to all enterprise data.

UNS architecture allows any person across all layers of organizational structure, from regular employees to decision makers and company shareholders, to get instant access to contextualized information from any industrial network node, including all hardware equipment, software tools and IIoT devices.

Great scalability.

Such an approach makes the system very easy to scale as the collection and consumption of data is executed through a central UNS hub that can enable seamless instant communication of a multitude of nodes simultaneously.

Lower costs.

Implementing UNS architecture also allows organizations to reduce data infrastructure-related costs as they only need to build one communication interface to cover their IT network instead of multiple point-to-point connections in traditional hierarchical structure.

Simple integration.

Integrating new nodes and elements into the network is also considerably easier with UNS architecture as the process is much simpler and doesn’t require high-expertised engineering services.

Improved efficiency and faster time to market.

With all the above-described benefits, organizations are able to improve the speed and efficiency of all their processes, achieving faster time to market with instant access to all the required data across every layer of the production process, from design and planning to testing and manufacturing.

Standard presentation of data across all formats.

The data provided by the UNS is represented in a standardized, consistent manner even when it is retrieved in different formats from varying machines and software systems.

Reduced network complexity and less need for detailed system knowledge.

UNS, being much simpler compared to a traditional hierarchical structure, reduces the need for detailed system knowledge, allowing even people with little or no knowledge of enterprise network technologies to quickly access and use data provided by the UNS.

Potential benefits UNS

UNS applications

Let’s review some of the most common and important applications for a unified namespace within an enterprise industrial automation network.

Adoption of a standard naming convention for all layers of IT infrastructure

Implementing a UNS allows organizations to adopt a standard naming convention for all components of the enterprise IT infrastructure, including parts of machinery, equipment, robots, IoT devices, tools and other solutions. Having a standard naming convention in place makes it much easier for the company to create tasks and assign them to the appropriate staff, conduct maintenance of the equipment and execute various other processes that are part of the industrial operations.

Access to user-defined data type (UDT) for all company employees

The introduction of user-defined data types (UDT), which is typically a foundation of any UNS structure, allows to significantly improve the efficiency and uniformity of all industrial processes. UDTs are used to group data and simplify the translation of the data retrieved from various PLCs and other hardware equipment into a standard model. This enables company employees across all teams and corporate levels to easily access the data retrieved from a specific piece of equipment even if it is situated in a different geographical location and uses a data format incompatible with software systems used by an employee to present this information in a viewable form.

Advanced real-time analytics and reporting

The implementation of a standard naming convention and user-defined data types makes it easy to use UNS for the generation of real-time analytics and reports on virtually every aspect of operational processes, from equipment maintenance and testing to integration of new hardware and modernization procedures. With UNS-enabled reporting and analytics, companies can achieve a significant improvement of their equipment maintenance (thus extending the equipment lifecycle and reducing costs), optimize operational processes, reduce the consumption of resources and make multiple other data-driven changes.

Streamline communication and collaboration

Using UNS also allows industrial teams to streamline collaboration and communication, simplifying not just the access to all required information but also the process of assigning tasks, exchanging knowledge and status updates, and a multitude of other processes.

Scaling of IIoT implementation

Another very important UNS application to mention is its role in scaling the implementation of IIoT devices and solutions. Without having a UNS in place, the adoption of a complex IIoT network can take months or even years in some cases. The availability of a centralized data repository makes this process a lot easier and faster, reducing the time needed to implement a new complex IIoT network to days and sometimes even just a few hours.

UNS and digital transformation

In the modern-day world, businesses and non-commercial organizations simply cannot afford to ignore the need for digital transformation. In fact, for many companies, it’s a matter of staying in business and keeping up with the competition. As the penetration of innovative technologies across industries and market segments continues to unfold, the market demands and customer expectations are also on the rise. And digital transformation is the only way for companies to evolve and stay in the game when the standards of productivity and efficiency are rising, fueled by new technologies.

Digital transformation is an umbrella term that describes various processes and initiatives directed towards integrating new digital technologies into business operations as well as modernizing existing IT/OT systems, workflows, approaches and business strategies.

Looking at the modern-day industrial automation field, it is safe to say that a unified namespace is one of the most crucial parts of digital transformation processes. UNS enables the execution of all the main innovations a digital transformation project should deliver to an enterprise.

UNS and Industry 4.0/5.0

A unified data solution, integrated across all business components and layers of the enterprise IT infrastructure, is one of the central and most fundamental prerequisites for a successful migration to Industry 4.0 and now Industry 5.0 standards from industrial automation systems and architectures of previous generations.

Naturally, from the data point of view, the implementation of a unified namespace plays a decisive role in accelerating Industry 4.0/5.0 projects and enabling smooth operations of an Industry 4.0/5.0 system with its all-encompassing connections to all enterprise software solutions, including SCADAs, ERPs, MES and other applications, as well as with machinery and hardware components such as PLCs, sensors, actuators, robotic devices, etc.

Let’s briefly summarize where UNS solutions exist within Industry 4.0/5.0 architecture and how a unified namespace can enable and reinforce Industry 4.0/5.0 projects for industrial automation companies across fields.

How to integrate a UNS into existing industrial automation infrastructure

Here are the steps we recommend you to take when implementing a unified namespace into your existing enterprise IT infrastructure.

Identify software and hardware solutions to include into the UNS

You should start with identifying all the assets — including software systems such as ERP, MES and others, as well as hardware solutions like PLCs, equipment, machines, robotic tools, etc. — that will be included in the UNS.

Specify goals and scope of the project

The next logical step would be to specify the scope and goals of the project and develop a detailed plan. Just like with any other digital transformation initiative, in order to maximize the chances of a successful outcome, it is very important to start with a detailed and all-encompassing plan. A UNS integration plan should include not just the goals, but also steps of implementing the project, software systems, equipment parts, machines and other tools to be involved in this process, data points that should be collected and tracked, etc.

Adopt a standard naming convention

The process of integrating a UNS with other existing enterprise systems should be started with the development of a standard naming convention for the new UNS. A unified namespace convention should include a hierarchical structure that will be used for organization of items in the system, and a set of rules to use when assigning names to these items.

Implement a UNS data broker

As we mentioned above, a data broker, most frequently based on MQTT protocol, is typically used as a middleware element in UNS infrastructure projects. The implementation of an MQTT broker simplifies the process of accessing the UNS data by various systems across the layers of enterprise IT infrastructure, making the overall UNS structure more efficient and easier to scale.

Assign unique names to items in the namespace system

After a standard naming convention is adopted, proceed to assigning unique identifiers (names) to each item that should be a part of the namespace system within the defined hierarchy. The trickiest and most important part of this process is to make sure all items are correctly placed within the pre-defined classification structure.

Integrate data historian or data lake into the Unified Namespace

The majority of enterprises integrating a UNS already have either a data historian or a SQL database as part of their industrial automation system. In most cases, it’s a data historian.

Data or process historian (also sometimes being called operational historian or simply “historian”) is a set of time-series database applications designed and typically used for collecting and storing data related to industrial operations.

Data historians were originally developed in the second half of the 1980s to be used with industrial automation systems such as SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems. Today process historians are widely used across industries, serving as an important tool for performance monitoring, supervisory control, analytics, and quality assurance.

In modernized industrial automation systems, a data lake plays the role of a data historian / SQL database. Since UNS doesn’t work with historical data and only represents the current, real-time, state of every process, application or data stream, it needs to be integrated with a centralized storage of information to communicate with and get the data from.

Make sure there is a process in place tracking down most frequent queries to the historian / data lake from various system components to publish them back into UNS automatically without static connections — to ask for relevant data — needed.

Integrate other central industrial components into UNS

When the data storage integration is in place, you can integrate other major components of your industrial automation network in it.

The following are the most common integrations typically made as part of UNS implementation projects.

Integrate UNS with SCADA

The integration with SCADA is foundational to having a well-functioning UNS solution. UNS typically supplies SCADA with multiple kinds of data related to all operational processes. This allows facility operators to optimize the production. Additionally, a SCADA can use UNS to publish back commands to various nodes across the plant machinery.

Integrate UNS with MES

MES (manufacturing execution system) typically receives multiple kinds of data from UNS, such as information on key performance indicators, raw materials management, work orders, etc. It uses this data to make calculations which are later consumed by nodes across the system to come up with relevant reports related to their specific field of operations.

Integrate UNS with CMMS

A CMMS (computerized maintenance management system) uses UNS for equipment usage and process efficiency monitoring across all production lines to track, manage and optimize machinery maintenance activities.

Integrate UNS with ERP

When it comes to an ERP system, it receives from UNS the information on processes that are running on every production line at any given moment. This provides ERP users with real-time insight into operations, allowing them to make well-informed, timely decisions.

Integrate UNS with plant analytics solution

The analytics solution used to analyze and visualize data related to production processes throughout the plant should also be integrated with the UNS. Such an integration makes it easier for the analytics tool to obtain contextualized data when comprising reports and tracking processes.

Run tests to validate all UNS integrations

When each integration of UNS with another enterprise-level software system is completed, run a set of tests to validate that integration is functioning properly, the UNS item identifiers are aligned with the item names used by other systems, and all the data nodes are properly tracked.

Train company employees to use UNS integrations within ERP, MES and other systems

When the implementation of the UNS system with required integrations is completed, make sure all company employees across teams and departments will be able to attend a detailed and well-structured training, teaching them how to leverage the benefits of UNS integration in their day-to-day work. Utilize the standard naming convention and identifiers assigned as part of UNS implementation to familiarize company employees with the new names for tools, machines and equipment that were added as UNS data nodes.

Monitor UNS performance and provide timely system maintenance

Finally, a UNS system requires routine maintenance with regular thorough reviews to make sure the system functions based on up-to-date data connections in line with the initial project plan. Maintenance of the UNS system should include reviews of item identifiers and their descriptions with timely updates when needed.

UNS system components

Naturally, any UNS is a complex technical solution that consists of multiple parts. Here is a brief description of the main components of the most typical UNS system.

Central hub

Central hub is the main component of any UNS. It typically includes a database storing information about various data nodes within a UNS system, as well as software that establishes integration and communication of hardware and software components, which are connected to the enterprise UNS.

Data broker

A data broker, typically based on MQTT, Sparkplug B, or MQTT Spakrplug communication protocols, like we said above, is typically used as a central middleware element of a UNS system, enabling quick communication between UNS and all data nodes connected to it.

Connections and communication channels

There are software, hardware and wireless network connections and communication channels used as part of a UNS system. Software connections most typically are APIs or pieces of program code used to establish communication between UNS and a data node. Communication channels include wireless networks such as the Ethernet and the Internet, as well as cables directly connecting a system or piece of equipment to the central hub of the UNS.

Connected data nodes (devices and systems)

Naturally, all software systems and hardware devices that are connected to the UNS, including ERPs, MES, CMMS, PLCs, sensors, machinery, control systems and other kinds of industrial equipment, are an important part of a unified namespace system.

User interface and software

A graphical user interface and software used to manage communication between the unified namespace and all data nodes — devices, machines, equipment and software — is also a part of the UNS system. Specifically, UNS solutions typically use various manufacturing software solutions such as Ignition by Inductive Automation, Libre manufacturing data hub, and others.

Cyber security protection

Since any UNS system includes multiple flows of data transmitted all across the enterprise IT infrastructure elements, having a reliable cyber security protection technology in place is also essentially important. It is advisable to have all the data streams going in and out of the UNS system reliably encrypted and protected against potential external interference.

Main requirements for implementing a UNS system

According to Walker Reynolds, probably the most well-known UNS expert and one of the main popularizers of this technology in the industrial automation field, in order to implement a UNS system, the existing enterprise IT infrastructure should meet four essential requirements.

Edge-focused network

First of all, the smart digital factory implementing a UNS solution should have an edge-focused architecture in place. Employing edge computing devices across the enterprise network provides organizations with maximum decentralization of computational capacity, allowing to collect, store and analyze the data directly at the source, without the need to send large amounts of data to the server and back. The adoption of an edge-focused architecture makes it possible for industrial control systems and other solutions, including the unified namespace, to acquire the information needed for efficient management of all industrial processes from machines and equipment in real time. Once the required operation is concluded, an edge device is able to either remove the data that is no longer needed or transfer it to a server for long-term storage and further analysis.

Report by exception

Another crucial criteria to have in place is a report by exception function for all data node connections on a UNS system. Being able to utilize a report by exception function is important when it comes to unified namespace connection because, in most cases, only the data transmitted after the change is relevant to a UNS query. The majority of data transmitted by nodes in a UNS system in a real-time mode tends to be the same, with less than 10% of this information actually changing on a second-to-second basis. A report by exception allows UNS to receive only the data that is tied to a specific change in the flow of information transmitted by a network node. This, along with the utilization of edge computing devices, makes the UNS system a lot faster and more efficient, minimizing the usage of broadband required even for hundreds of nodes to share live updates with the central hub.

Lightweight communication protocol as broker

A lightweight communication protocol, supporting a report by exception function and being able to quickly transport messages between UNS and connected nodes, is also a fundamental prerequisite for a full-scale unified namespace solution. Like we said earlier, MQTT protocol is the most common industrial communication protocol choice when it comes to implementing a UNS system.

Being one of the most UNS-ready industrial data intelligence solutions on the market, Clarify exposes a ready-made Clarify MQTT Broker interface which our clients can connect to in order to send data. This means that most devices with the ability to connect to an MQTT broker will be able to send data directly. Clarify supports different payloads and topic structures in MQTT messages such as Dataframe, Sparkplug B, JSON1 & Kepserver. Find more information in the MQTT Broker Documentation or take the Clarify Product Tour right now to learn more about Clarify and pre-made software integration to all major industrial automation systems that we provide.

Open architecture

Finally, the fourth fundamentally important prerequisite for a unified namespace implementation is to have an open architecture enabling the communication of the enterprise network components between each other. The utilization of open architecture is generally one of the main requirements for successful digital transformation and Industry 4.0/5.0 projects. It enables scalability and universal data sharing required by a modern-day industrial automation system to maintain smooth operations. The most common open specifications used for implementing UNS projects are MQTT, Sparkplug, and OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA).

UNS implementation challenges

Even though UNS is a relatively new concept in the enterprise technology world, companies across many industries today are increasingly rushing to start implementing a centralized data repository as a foundation of their industrial automation networks.

Naturally, as it always is with complicated systems that require multiple interconnections between the network elements, there’s a number of issues and challenges many organizations are commonly dealing with when trying to implement a unified namespace.

Based on our experience dealing with businesses across market fields and industrial automation solutions designed for various needs and purposes, here are the most common challenges you may face when executing a UNS implementation project. Along with some basic recommendations on how to solve these problems.  

Difficult to compose a proper plan and select an approach.

As we said earlier, the majority of industrial automation systems today rely on a traditional hierarchical approach to industrial data utilization when all platforms that are part of the enterprise IT infrastructure are connected in a pyramidal structure with each software layer tied only to the layers that are directly above or below.

It should come as no surprise that switching to a modern UNS-based system architecture ends up being a difficult process for many organizations with long-established and operating industrial automation infrastructure.

As we suggested in the section devoted to the integration of UNS into the existing industrial automation infrastructure, the implementation of a UNS system should always start with a proper plan that would include full project scope, an identification and description of all enterprise assets and infrastructure elements that need to be connected to the UNS, including software systems such as ERP, MES and others, as well as hardware solutions like PLCs, equipment, machines, robotic tools, etc.

Switching to the new architecture and interruptions of existing operations.

Another problem typically occurs when enterprises begin to implement the new UNS-based system and start utilizing it in their day-to-day operations. It is not uncommon for organizations to face both planned and unexpected interruptions of their existing operations in the process of implementation of UNS and the transition to UNS-based industrial network architecture from the outdated hierarchical system.

Our advice for companies modernizing their industrial data networks to switch from a traditional historian-based hierarchical system to UNS would be to keep both solutions — old and new UNS-based ones — up and running concurrently in parallel to each other as long as possible. This way, you will be protected against accidental downtimes and production interruptions when in the early stages of testing the new UNS solution and adapting it to your business needs.

Hard to build UNS connections with non-telemetry data systems.

Even though it is highly recommended to use open architecture communication protocols such as MQTT and Sparkplug B when implementing a UNS-based system, it is still fairly common for organizations to face difficulties when trying to establish the connection of UNS with various non-telemetry data systems. Especially ERPs, MES, CMMS, LIMS and other informational software-based solutions that typically don’t have direct connections to and established data exchange with industrial machinery and hardware.

Our best advice in regard to minimizing the potential problems with building UNS connections to non-telemetry data systems would be to make sure your system prior to UNS implementation meets the four main prerequisites described above, being edge-focused, supporting report by exception feature, lightweight and based on an open architecture.

Specifically, make sure you are using an MQTT Broker when establishing the communication between UNS and ERP or other user-facing software systems. The software system should be allowed to publish its data to the broker on its own, and only when the data is changed (see the description of the report by exception feature above).

Additionally, focus on enabling the communication of software systems and UNS with minimal or absolutely no restrictions. Even though it is important to have cyber security protocols in place to protect the data exchange channels from intruders and accidental leaks, they should be balanced not to restrict and delay the flow of data between the nodes on a UNS-based network.

Lack of talent experienced in UNS projects.

Lack of qualified and experienced talent is one of the biggest problems across the fields and niches of the tech industry in general. This issue gets especially burning when it comes to UNS implementations in the industrial automation environments. As UNS is an innovation for the majority of industrial automation companies today, it can be quite challenging for an organization to find and hire enough specialists having a broad experience in this field and able to anticipate all the needs and requirements of a UNS project.

There is no easy way to get around the IT talent shortage on any industrial automation project, including UNS implementation. Our recommendation is to look for people with good working knowledge of industrial communication protocols and open architecture. Another area of knowledge that is highly relevant when it comes to hiring UNS implementation experts would be industrial automation systems such as SCADAs and the integration of industrial equipment components with each other.

Integration of sparsely distributed equipment into the UNS network.

One of the advantages of a UNS-based system is that the UNS facilitates an easy integration of industrial assets, such as plant equipment and manufacturing facilities distributed across various locations around the globe, to the network. However, this process can still be quite problematic considering that many large manufacturing companies nowadays have very complex industrial environments with multiple components distributed throughout multiple locations, sometimes situated very far from one another.

The key to avoid problems with adding new components to your already established UNS network and to simplify this process as much as possible is to adopt a standard naming convention on early stages of UNS project implementation, relying on user-defined data types when adding new equipment and data nodes to the UNS network. Make sure all metadata and equipment-specific tags used throughout your industrial automation system can be easily translated into a standard unified namespace convention.

Final words

One of the main points that we aimed to make with this brief guide to Unified Namespace and the implementation of UNS in industrial automation environments is that UNS is a key innovation for enterprises modernizing their infrastructure in line with modern-day standards of digital transformation and Industry 4.0/5.0.

Today, data and data-driven technologies are powering digital factory systems, enabling more efficient and productive outcomes in every layer of business operations, from resource management and equipment maintenance to manufacturing and quality control. Any company implementing an industrial automation project needs to master both the connectivity tools that allow it to retrieve and exchange data and software solutions helping to visualize and analyze the data for valuable information and business insights.

Vetted by reputable industry experts, such as Walker Reynolds, Clarify is an affordable and simple data intelligence platform that can augment your data historian or enable you to properly utilize process manufacturing data collected over the years.

Clarify can be easily integrated with the majority of data historians from all vendors, including the ones that only support on-premise deployments, allowing you to combine data from multiple time series databases, visualizing and accessing it in real time. Clarify also simplifies the process of connecting third-party data science tools and applications to your data for advanced analysis.

Regardless of your data management requirements, the Clarify platform is a versatile solution that can be used as a universal intermediary tool, augmenting your data management infrastructure and solving challenges with processing, integrating and visualizing time series data across industrial automation systems and software components.

Want to see the capabilities of the Clarify platform with your own eyes? Take a tour.


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