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OPC Foundation: Get ready for the internet of everything

Articles | By OPC Foundation | 04 April 2017
OPC UA vertically connects all levels of business intelligence from sensor data to the Cloud. OPC UA vertically connects all levels of business intelligence from sensor data to the Cloud. Photo: OPC Foundation

OPC Foundation Outlines Road Map For 2017 and Beyond

2016 was a very successful year for the OPC Foundation. 2017 will be even better, the OPC Foundation‘s General Assembly reported: In a joint conference, members of the global board reflected on the OPC Foundation‘s work in the past year and outlined the next steps in the worldwide development and adoption of the OPC UA interoperability standard. With important upgrades, more regional chapters, more certification labs, and more partnerships, the OPC Foundation aims to make 2017 their best year yet.

47 million installations for the Internet of Everything

Thomas BurkeThomas Burke “In 2016, the OPC foundation not only grew by a significant margin, but was also able to lay down key policies for future developments,” Thomas Burke, President & Executive Director of the OPC Foundation, summed up the past year. “With the founding of OPC Korea, OPC UA takes another important step towards becoming a global standard.” The next new organisations are planned in such vital regions as India, South Africa, and South America.

In this, the OPC Foundation is aided by numerous partnerships. Over 450 companies are OPC Foundation members. Around 4,000 others are producers of certified OPC devices. “In total, there are 47 million OPC UA installations running today,” Burke says. “This means that in 2017, OPC UA is without any doubt the leading infrastructure for the Internet of Everything.”

Further seminars and trade show presence in 2017

Stefan HoppeStefan Hoppe Stefan Hoppe, Vice President of the OPC Foundation, outlined the key measures that the OPC Foundation will be taking in 2017 in order to increase global adoption. In addition to founding new regional branches in global hotspots, the foundation puts an emphasis on increasing OPC UA‘s degree of prominence worldwide. In 2016, the OPC Foundation increased its presence at various trade shows and conferences to present itself and its work: “At the Hanover Fair, the IoT World Congress in Barcelona and the SPS IPC Drives in Nuremberg, our joint booth with Microsoft was always crowded.

This shows us that OPC UA produces a very positive response,” Hoppe explains. In 2017, the OPC Foundation is planning on increasing the number of seminars, talks, and other events. In addition, the Foundation‘s website will be updated and expanded.

Important OPC UA upgrades to come in 2017

Board member Matthias Dahm explains the road map for the important Publish and Subscribe (Pub/Sub) and TSN upgrades to the OPC UA platform: “Even though development on Pub/Sub only started in 2015, 2016 already saw the completion of a viable release candidate, which will be published in 2017. Pub/Sub will be available as an unintrusive firmware upgrade, meaning that once it has been released, it can be downloaded and integrated into the OPC Unified Architecture without making any changes to existing information models. Pub/Sub just adds further possibilities to the OPC UA SDK and stack processes.”

“The upgrade forms the basis of the important OPC UA over Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) functionality, which combines Pub/Sub with the IEEE TSN Ethernet standard. OPC UA TSN provides all the necessary elements to unify communication in automated environments. This enables information technology and operations technology to come together in an unprecedented fashion. OPC UA TSN communication will be the motor of the Industrial Internet of Things,” Dahm concludes.

OPC UA TSN unifies communication between devices and the Cloud

Automation companies ABB, Bosch Rexroth, B&R, Cisco, General Electric, Kuka, National Instruments, Parker Hannifin, Schneider Electric, SEW-Eurodrive, and TTTech, among others, are supporting the OPC Foundation in driving forward OPC UA TSN as the unified communications solution between industrial equipment and the Cloud. The solution, based on open standards, enables devices by different machine OEMs to be completely compatible in industrial environments.

The supporting companies are aiming to support OPC UA TSN in upcoming product generations. Their common goal is an open, unified, compatible IIoT solution for real-time peer-to-peer communication. This enables automated industrial systems to exchange data with one another and with the Cloud according to a secure standard. Within the Industrial Internet Consortium framework, a technical cooperation has already been established and succeeded in integrating first prototypes into a test bed.

This demonstration shows that OPC UA TSN can assure communication of control devices by different manufacturers via a single IT infrastructure. “Members are always welcome to participate and contribute to the interoperability prototypes,” OPC Foundation Vice President Stefan Hoppe says. Other Industrial Internet Consortium test beds include OPC UA Sensor in Brownfield environment, as well as OPC UA and AutomationML for Factory.

Expanded capacities will reduce certifications backlog

The rapid growth in OPC UA adoption creates a bottleneck in the required certifications process. All new OPC devices have to pass this certification, which strengthens the platform by imposing high standards for quality and interoperability. Over 32,000 products have already been certified for OPC UA use. “In order to accommodate the strong demand, a new certifications lab in Stuttgart, Germany will be added,” Nathan Pocock, Director of Compliance at the OPC Foundation, says. “Testing and certifying a new OPC UA device only takes between four and five days, but even with additional capacities, the labs will be backlogged for a while. We have recognized the demand for additional certification capacities and are very confident that we can optimize and streamline the certifications process in 2017.”

Last modified on Tuesday, 04 April 2017 12:39
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