“Mission Complete” – Let’s Continue!
The SPS show is a special fair for me: Not only because I have been allowed to be there for 24 years but also because I took over the position as Vice President of the OPC Foundation there 5 years ago in November 2014 and thereby gave the slogan “The goal should be this: OPC UA becomes the worldwide accepted standard for the industrial IoT in the next 3-5 years.”
So what is the status today? It is the de-facto standard. There is no other framework for Industrial Interoperability in the world that is comparable to OPC UA in such a way. It is anchored in the industries of discrete manufacturing and process control, but also in engineering, energy, pharmaceuticals, and now also industrial kitchen appliances. So “Mission Complete” however no leaning back! On the contrary, there is still a lot to do: every serious worldwide PLC manufacturer supplies OPC UA integrated in their controller, but it will still take time until the actual value of information models and the exchange of information is realized as plug & play on site at the plant.
Largest booth in OPC History
At this year’s SPS fair, we had a 240 sqm exhibition area and thus the largest stand in the history of the OPC Foundation. 14 OPC members were present as exhibitors, and the guests could admire three demos with experts providing explanations:
- KUKA brought a large robot to the booth to explain the released “UA for Robotics” information model with connection to the Microsoft Azure Cloud.
- Along with its partners, the VDMA showed an implementation of the released “UA for Machine Vision” Companion Spec.
- And for something ‘different’, member Küppersbusch from our HKI partner organization showed an industrial frying device with an integrated OPC UA interface and the implementation of the information model for frying stations. This is a remarkable success for our technology architects who designed OPC UA: secure transport and secure access to standardized information are also required outside of classical automation.
It is important that harmonized information is accessible as close as possible to the data source in a standardized way.
101 New Members in 1 year
From 12.12.2018 with 636 members at that time, the OPC Foundation grew to 737 by 07.12.2019 and thus 101 new members. Welcomed into the Class A membership were: Alstom Group, Baumüller, Foxconn Industrial Internet, Makimo Milling Machine, Murrelektronic, NIKON Corp., Okuma Corp., Persistent Systems, TÜV SÜD and Weidmüller.
Foxconn Fii is the 699th OPC Member
A special welcome was provided to our new 699th OPC member, Foxconn Fii, where we had the pleasure to be a guest in Shenzhen, China in July. 699 is an especially lucky number in China and so we are looking forward to a successful time together. Read more details here.
Board Member Elections
On December 4th the OPC Foundation held a Board of Directors election. Re-elected to the Board were:
- Thomas Hahn, Siemens
- Ziad Kaakani, Honeywell
- Shinji Oda, Yokogawa
- Matt Vasey, Microsoft
Congratulations, and thanks to all the members who voted!
FLC Initiative Grows – TSN Live Demo in Spring 2020
Peter Lutz started as Director of the Field Level Communication (FLC) initiative in April 2018 and was able to introduce two more members to the steering committee of the FLC Initiative at the SPS show: Welcome to Murrelektronik and Festo! In total, there are now 25 well-known companies from the process, factory automation, and chipset sector. Great progress has been made, and over 240 experts from over 40 member companies of the OPC Foundation are now working on the basic concepts for the Controller-to-Controller and Controller-to-Device use-cases. Both conventional Ethernet based on UDP and direct Layer 2 mapping using Ethernet TSN are supported. This approach ensures that the developed solution can be used in a wide variety of automation devices for process and factory automation. The steering committee has drawn up a roadmap, application scenarios, and requirements. In April 2020, the first version of the specification will be available as a release candidate and a first demo with prototypes from various manufacturers will be shown at the Hanover Fair 2020.
The launch of the FLC initiative with the emphasis on “including TSN” has certainly led public perception to focus on the field level in the manufacturing sector. However, the OPC Foundation has not only started in the process control industry but has also set a very prominent standard with the many activities at the OPA Group or the NAMUR with the OPC UA-based NAMUR Open Architecture model. Together with the FieldComm Group and others the OPC Foundation is continuing development of PA-DIM (Process Automation Device Information Model).
The OPC Foundation has always been able to integrate important underlying IT infrastructures into the UA framework, so it is a logical evolution to keep pushing Ethernet-APL for the process area in addition to TSN for deterministic transmission and to make Ethernet-APL more visible in the FLC initiative.
IT Company Participation
However, the vertical connection to the IT world remains the driver for the adoption of OPC UA: secure, standardized information exchange is important, but “only” the key to get and use the data!
Looking to 2020
First activities for 2020 are already available on the OPC website. Please see the events page: https://opcfoundation.org/news-events/events/. The list of sponsorship opportunities has also been published at an early stage: https://opcfoundation.org/about/advertising/
The first critically important starting point in 2020 is the workshop for “Harmonization for Asset Management” on January 30-31, 2020 in Frankfurt, Germany. Here we want to find as broad a consensus as possible in order not to end up with a proliferation and chaos of information models in the future. Again, we are looking forward to the active and voluntary cooperation in the world of Industrial Interoperability with the OPC Foundation and our partners.
In addition to all progress with the technology, I wish all readers days of peace and contemplation with their friends and families at Christmas. Slow down a little bit and enjoy the time!