OPC and Building Automation

Sponsored by: ICONICS

Most people would immediately associate the OPC and OPC UA communication protocols with industrial automation. The mention of either technology brings to mind manufacturing equipment, PLCs, and the monitoring and control of associated processes. For the most part, that perception hasn’t entirely changed, but the evolution of related software solutions has provided a reason to consider OPC technology as part of a more comprehensive automation strategy.

ICONICS, a global provider of automation software and member of the Mitsubishi Electric Group, has multiple years’ experience in providing solutions both for industrial automation as well as for building automation, or smart buildings, as some would say.

[ICONICS provides OPC-to-the-Core™ solutions ranging from a suite of OPC servers and clients to a toolkit for developing OPC Servers. A charter member of the OPC Foundation, ICONICS has assisted over the years with creation of OPC standards, development of the OPC Foundation sample code, and participating and hosting OPC Interop testing. Currently, ICONICS serves on the board of directors for the Foundation. For more information on this working relationship, visit https://iconics.com/Products/OPC-Connectivity.]

In developing solutions for both areas, ICONICS strives to help its customers achieve their “complete” automation goals, for both their manufacturing processes as well as for their building automation systems. The company delivers this through multiple offerings, including its GENESIS64™ HMI suite, which can be tailored for data visualization, alarming, trending, and more for either industrial applications or building monitoring and control. GENESIS64 supports industry standard communications such as OPC UA, OPC Classic, Modbus, BACnet, SNMP, web services, and databases.ICONICS works closely with the OPC Foundation and has been very active in support of the OPC UA technology. OPC UA has a REST-like interface and layers on top of AMQP and MQTT providing multi-protocol and platform interoperability. ICONICS IoTWorX™, an IIoT connectivity suite that allows cloud-based access to ICONICS data visualization, historian, analytics, and mobilization tools. IoTWorX supports that same list of open data protocols as GENESIS64 for communications and device connectivity, and leverages OPC UA in addition to natively supporting bi-directional AMQP for efficient, secure connection with Microsoft Azure, as well as MQTT, REST, and WebSockets with third-party cloud providers, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS).

ICONICS’ goal is to help customers “Make the Invisible Visible™”. This involves using the software’s ability to discover a customer’s data wherever it is created, transmitted, or stored in order to utilize it to its fullest benefit. With both industrial system (OPC UA, Modbus, SNMP, etc.) and building system (BACnet, etc.) compatibility, ICONICS can acquire data from multiple disparate sources. For example, a customer might want to keep track of a facility’s manufacturing line (with the multiple machines, devices, and sensors involved) as well as its lighting, heating, cooling, elevators, fire suppression, etc. for a big picture, full understanding of the performance and health of that facility. The data collected via ICONICS software, due to its broad communication capabilities, can then be used for more in-depth visualization, rapid archiving/retrieval, and more immediately useful analytics and KPIs for decision-making.

OPC truly addresses many areas beyond typical industrial automation, with building automation being just one such (increasingly popular) example. ICONICS provides a versatile automation software solution to allow a complete comprehensive strategy for interoperability.

For more information on ICONICS IoTWorX’ OPC UA and building controls compatibility, visit https://iconics.com/Solutions/IoT.