Three new collaborations to announce this month: umati, EUROMAP, and PROFINET
umati – The Global Language of Production
“Cross-industry and cross-technology marketing will take our customers a significant step forward,” said Dr. Wilfried Schäfer, Executive Director of the VDW (German Machine Tool Builders’ Association), explaining the strategy at the associations’ joint press conference in Frankfurt am Main.
“Manufacturing companies have not only machine tools but also their own individual mix of machines, equipment, robots and systems. If all these technologies can exist in a common ecosystem which is ideal for producing plug-and-play solutions, this will save end users a lot of time and money,” Schäfer continued. Hartmut Rauen, Deputy Executive Director of the VDMA (German Engineering Federation), added: “Over 30 specialist groupings in more than 17 associations are working on technology-specific interfaces, the “Companion Specifications”. This high level of collaboration forms the basis of true, open interoperability between machines and software systems, from the shop floor to the cloud. Only the VDMA has the means to unite the necessary integrative forces from the wide range of production domains.“
OPC UA Companion Specification for Machinery to be published in 2020
The mechanical and plant engineering sector adopted OPC UA as the standard for data exchange at an early stage. This is because OPC UA provides a uniform framework for machine and system interoperability. Having adopted a bottom-up approach, it became clear how important it was to have uniform definitions for basic elements for a large part of the diverse range of products in mechanical and plant engineering. The simplest example is machine identification, including features such as manufacturer, serial number, year of manufacture and machine type.
Here, various VDMA departments – such as Electrical Drive Engineering, Plastics and Rubber Machinery, Machine Vision, Metallurgy, Robotics and Machine Tools – are currently drawing up the Basic Companion Specification OPC UA for Machinery. “The first version is scheduled for publication later this year,” announced Hartmut Rauen.
umati aimed at end customers
The machine tool industry was also at the forefront of this process. An initiative to develop an open, standardized interface was presented back in 2017. Here, too, an early decision was taken in favor of OPC UA as the base technology. Just two years later, a showcase featuring 70 partners from ten countries demonstrated at EMO Hannover that it was possible to connect 110 machines to 28 software services distributed across the exhibition grounds in a system which functions to all intents and purposes on a “plug and play” basis. In addition, the VDW launched the umati – universal machine tool interface label back in 2018, a brand aimed primarily at customers all over the world.
In the meantime, numerous other OPC UA Companion Specifications have been developed by the VDMA and its partner organizations. In order to give these specifications greater visibility and to increase their usage levels, umati is now being extended to cover the entire mechanical and plant engineering industry as a community for the use and marketing of OPC UA Companion Specifications.
OPC UA for Plastics and Rubber Machinery
In 2019, EUROMAP and the OPC Foundation established the Joint Working Group “OPC UA for Plastics and Rubber Machinery”. The aim of the international group is to develop worldwide standardized interfaces for plastics and rubber machines based on OPC UA. The existing EUROMAP recommendations EUROMAP 77 (data exchange between injection moulding machines and MES), 82.1 (temperature control devices) and 83 (general definitions) have now been published under the neutral umbrella of the OPC Foundation as OPC 40077, 40082-1 and 40083.
The most important change is that the so-called namespace, which defines the globally unique identification of an interface standard, has been transferred from euromap.org to opcfoundation.org.
This paves the way for the adoption of the standard in other regions such as Asia and America. Even if the standard is translated into national adoptions and, if necessary, assigned a different local number, the uniform namespace ensures that the data to be exchanged is uniform and is recognized by the connected devices.
In addition, a new series for extrusion, OPC 40084, has been published. It considers the extrusion line as a whole with its production status and order management as well as the individual components with status and process values. Currently the different parts cover extruders, haul-offs, melt pumps, filters, dies, pelletizing, cutters, calibration and corrugators. Further parts for components such as calenders [sic], splitting and winding will follow. The use of standardized digital data exchange facilitates the commissioning and operation of the extrusion line.
OPC UA for PROFINET Companion Specification
OPC UA for PROFINET defines an OPC UA Information Model that represents the standardized object model (Object Dictionary) from PROFINET. With this model and the standard OPC UA Services it enables access to objects of PROFINET devices in a vendor independent way. The access can happen through an OPC UA Server directly integrated in the PROFINET device, or through an OPC UA Server aggregating Object Dictionaries of multiple PROFINET devices. This will allow the implementation of horizontal communication between PROFINET devices and OPC UA devices on the field level, as well the vertical communication initiated from devices in the process or enterprise level, e.g. for diagnostics, configuration, condition monitoring, visualization etc.