Collaborations: PackML, PRODML, MDIS, AutomationML



The Organization for Machine Automation and Control (OMAC) has decided to adopt OPC UA as the standard for PackML (ISA TR 88.00.02) communications. TR88.00.02 defines a standardized data exchange mechanism for control and monitoring of equipment and machines used in production systems. Up to this point machines running PackML have used standard IP sockets to exchange and synchronize data.

The new OPC UA /PackML companion specification under development will allow machine builders to model machine data using the OPC UA information model, then share this data between other machines, SCADA, and MES systems. The decision behind adopting OPC UA is based on the recognition that OPC UA has the most advanced object model with extremely powerful security features, making it ideal for IIoT applications.

OMAC and the OPC Foundation have partnered to create a working group to develop an OPC / UA Pack PackML companion specification. Sari Germanos (B&R Industrial Automation, Open Automation business unit) was nominated to chair the working group with technical leadership from Paul Hunkar (DS Interoperability) and Dennis Brandl (BR&L Consulting). The working group has members from all the major suppliers including: B&R, Beckhoff, Bosch-Rexroth, Copa-Data, Lenze, Mettler Toledo, Mitsubishi, Omron, Rockwell, Schneider Electric, Siemens, Yaskawa, and others. There are several OEM and end user companies including Arla Foods, Coloplast, Corning, Danone Engineering Worldwide, Mars, Nestle, P&G, and Velux.


The OPC UA WITSML/PRODML companion working group that was created as part of a collaboration between Energistics and the OPC Foundation has been making progress on mapping the WITSML models into OPC UA object models.

In the oil & gas market, WITSML provides consistent high-quality transfer of wellbore and drilling-related data. The commercial uses of WITSML include data transfer from well sites to real-time operations centers, movement of well-related data between applications, real-time availability of drilling operations and an archival history of drilling operations.

The group has identified the WITSML models that need to be the initial targets. They have also identified initial use cases that the companion specification will need to cover. In addition the group has been investigating the semi-automatic translation of the XML Schema and/or UML that is used by Energistics to define the WITSML model into OPC UA models. Since the Energistics models include a common set of models that are shared by PRODML and WITSML, this type of translation would allow easy mapping of PRODML. It would also allow for easier updates when new revision of WITSML or PRODML are released.


The MDIS Companion specification is nearing completion. A release candidate has been generated. This release candidate includes the common objects used in communication between the subsea systems and the top side systems on an Oil & Gas platform. It includes other common functionality such as redundancy guide lines and guidelines for extending the object model. The specification also includes profiles that break the functionality down in the two main architectures used on these systems. The MDIS organization has planned an Interoperability event for mid-September that will be used to validate all aspects of the specification and in addition it will be used as a demonstration of actually working systems from many of the member companies for Operating companies, including operating companies that are not members of the MDIS organization. Current membership includes ABB, AkerSolutions, BP, Chevron, CSE W-Industriies, Dril-Quip, Emerson, ENGlobal, FMC Technologies, GE Oil & Gas, Honeywell, Kongsberg, MOOG, OneSubsea, Petrobras, Proserv, Rockwell Automation, Shell, Softing, Siemens, Statoil, Woodside, and Yokogawa. The specification is targeted for release later this year.

OPC UA + AutomationML

A central idea of Industrie 4.0 is that tangible things involved in manufacturing comprehensibly describe their unique identity and their capabilities. This self-description is an essential part of the administration shell. Self-description and thus self-configuration can be achieved by using AutomationML to describe the capabilities of components and machines so OPC UA enables them to communicate with each other. The companion standard that was mutually developed between OPC Foundation and AutomationML e. V. aims at combining the two technologies such that in case of modifications in the factory data is communicated currently, consistently and reliably. To this end, features and capabilities are stored as AutomationML objects within the very components. Consequently, they are readily available to the control system as OPC UA information model at the time of physical integration.

Fraunhofer IOSB has now launched a piece of hardware (PLUGandWORK-Cube) to upgrade existing machines for Industrie 4.0 compliant self-description and communication. It consists of an Industrial PC with an assisting system that supports the user to simply describe his machine graphically. From this description the Cube builds an AutomationML-model and generates the information model of an OPC UA-server.