Generally, journeys from one appointment to the next leave different thoughts and impressions behind: you are curious about different cultures, forms, greetings, state of the art of technology, the kind of cooperation and procedures of problem solving. (My body shows that one can also appreciate the different culinary eating cultures.)
No matter in which part of the world you are, as a representative of the OPC Foundation you are always welcomed, since the challenge of industrial interoperability exists worldwide and can only be solved together. The world thus becomes a village when speaking on the morning of May 22 in Shanghai at our Chinese partner ITEI’s conference, and then thanks to the time difference, on the same evening I can welcome speakers in Wolfsburg, Germany for our next day’s Automotive conference.
Journey (or rather “Transition”?) from Developer Conferences to End-User Conferences
The OPC Day Automotive hosted by Volkswagen marks an important milestone: The first OPC UA conferences in 2006 (and again in 2008) were pure developer conferences: the technology was explained in detail down to the bit / byte / API level. Thirteen years later, the OPC Foundation is a guest at end-user Volkswagen, one of the world’s automotive giants and our 600thmember. That said, Audi and BMW were also present and gave lectures on their requirements and why and what exactly their demand from suppliers on the subject of OPC UA is.
Worldwide Collaboration is Key
In contrast to politics, we engineers have understood that we can only solve diverse challenges together on a global scale. OPC UA Companion Specifications are worldwide activities between the OPC Foundation and international partners with their worldwide members to describe the “industrial things of the world”: IIoT. It would be crazy and grotesque if every country in the world wrote their own OPC UA Companion Spec. Instead of lots of protocols for data transmission we would later have more than 65 overlapping Companion Specifications and the world would be even more complicated than it is today!
“OPC UA for Robotics” is Released
A nice example of this worldwide cooperation is the area of robotics: In February 2017 the international kick-off of the “OPC UA for Robotics” Companion Spec was initiated by VDMA and after one year a first prototype was shown at the Automatica exhibition. But now after a little more than 2 years on May 23, 2019 the participating companies have released the specification. It is available for all -not just OPC members- on the OPC website: https://opcfoundation.org/developer-tools/specifications-opc-ua-information-models.
Companies like ABB, Beckhoff, KUKA, Siemens, Engel, KEBA, Mitsubishi, KraussMaffei and Yaskawa have implemented the specification and can thus connect their robots to SAP/MES or the Microsoft Azure Dashboard in 10 minutes -a considerable reduction in engineering effort! What is special about this use-case is that a group for the standardization of robotics based on OPC UA had also started in China at the same time. Both groups knew nothing about the other and only became aware of each other through the OPC marketing activities in China! Subsequently, delegation visits led to harmonization and coordinated the different approaches. As a result, I am personally pleased to welcome Prof. Zhang from China again as one of our speakers on our OPC Asia Tour! The results of the Robotics Group were also shown in the USA at the Automate Show in Chicago and it was rather by chance a contact to company Foxconn was made which has proven very fruitful. It is nice that it is so easy to agree on common goals in the technical world despite different languages and regions.
OPC Asia Tour
At the OPC Foundation’s public events in Asia, I am delighted that in addition to Huawei in Shanghai, Foxconn as one of that country’s production giants, is sponsoring an OPC Day in Shenzhen. In Taipei, Taiwan we are guests of Microsoft with further stops are at Mitsubishi in Nagoya, Japan, Keti in Seoul, Korea, and Beckhoff in Singapore. All of these activities will take place from July 3rd to July 10th and I am looking forward to meeting you there. Click here for more information on the OPC Asia Tour.
Companion Spec Harmonization: Kick-Off on June 19th
As described in my first Presidential Welcome, the harmonization of information models is one of the most important tasks of the OPC Foundation right now. Many devices and machines require energy data or asset management, OOE data, firmware update interfaces, and more. Not only do services need to be aligned but also the templates for their data structures. I am therefore pleased that the technical teams have completed all preparations and that the kick-off for this critical task has taken place on June 19th. So if you want to participate as an OPC member, please contact the OPC Office quickly!
Besides all the enthusiasm for the standardization of the technology, I hope that we will all find some time to relax in the upcoming summer vacation. I hope you enjoy a few days off!
President, OPC Foundation