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ODVA ends the use of ‘hurtful’ master and slave terminology

13 April, 2021

ODVA, the international automation standards organisation, has decided to stop using the terms “master” and slave” to describe the relationship between devices in industrial communications hierarchies. It says it wants to eliminate the use of “hurtful” terminology and to help create a “more inclusive” industry.

ODVA has issued new editions of its DeviceNet and ControlNet specifications that replace the words “master” and “slave”. In future, when developers of devices for ODVA networks need to describe these functions, they will use the terms:
• “client” and “server” for EtherNet/IP, including the integration of Modbus devices;
• “controller” and “device” for DeviceNet; and
• “system time supervisor” or “active keeper” for ControlNet.

These changes are the first in a series intended to update the ODVA’s entire library of specifications and documents “to rectify the use of these terms”.

“ODVA strives to be on the cutting edge of open, interoperable information and communication technologies in industrial and process automation,” says ODVA president and executive director, Dr Al Beydoun. “ODVA’s intentional movement toward inclusive and accurate language throughout its specifications is a positive step in ensuring that industrial automation is a first choice for all professionals.”

As other organisations update the terminology used in their publications, ODVA says it will update any normative references in the ODVA library of specifications.

The new editions of the DeviceNet and ControlNet specifications are available from the ODVA’s Web site.

ODVA president Dr Al Beydoun: a positive step

•  Profibus and Profinet International (PI) has confirmed to Drives & Controls that it is also planning to stop using the terms "master" and "slave" in its publications. According to Dr Peter Wenzel, executive director of the Profibus user organisation PNO, discriminatory terms – in areas of gender as well as racism – may no longer be introduced or used in new specification and marketing documents from PI. With respect to existing technologies, these terms are being avoided where possible and will be replaced with non-discriminatory terms as far as possible and reasonable. He adds that PI has started to clean up its Web site, marketing communication tools and brochures, as well as creating internal regulatory and procedural documents.

A spokesman for the CC-Link Partner Association - Europe says that organisation is aware that it may be necessary to reconsider the terminology it uses to refer to different kinds of network stations. It is considering what terms should be used in the future.

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