President’s Welcome – December 2021

A warm welcome to you all,

I have done it. Did you too? Were you also mistaken? Since April 2020 with the first wave here in Germany, we live from quarter to quarter in the hope that everything will soon be over. “In 2021, everything will get better again”, according to the hope at the end of 2020. Not that the virus will dissipate, but life will be again so that we humans can handle it, with the vaccine and all of our behavior. One year later and despite the impression of the cancelled SPS industrial fair, the same hope exists again: “But in 2022 everything will be better!”

Canceled SPS Show

It would have been the largest exhibition booth of the OPC Foundation in its history with 275 sqm. Three trucks of 40t each were fully loaded and ready to go. But we did not let the trucks leave, instead cancelling the participation on our own out of responsibility –even before the show itself was cancelled. Very much work of preparation has not been rewarded with sight of what we achieved!

OPC UA for the Field

Three years after its launch I congratulate the Field Level Communications initiative on the release of the first OPC UA FX specifications and the first live demo. Twenty companies including the “Who’s Who” of the automation industry would have been present and showing standardized horizontal (M2M / C2C) communication. I know our friends at OPAF here are urgently waiting for products that deliver OPC UA PubSub. So read the details here.

OPC UA for Cloud

Brand new, an “OPC UA Cloud Corner” would have been created at the SPS fair: Again, we would have been very proud of the first live demo “OPC UA PubSub over MQTT” with PLC controllers from Beckhoff, Siemens and Microsoft Azure Cloud. Read more here.

Cloud 1: One “OPC UA over MQTT” Solution Accepted by All Major Cloud Systems

We will continue to expand this demo as all major cloud providers such as AWS, GoogleCloud, IBM, Microsoft Azure, Siemens MindSphere, and SAP have committed to “OPC UA over MQTT”. Applause! Bravo! Just as the OT world has committed to the unified standard OPC UA, I welcome the fact that the cloud/IT world in automation has also committed to “OPC UA over MQTT”. A big step – what we would have celebrated at the SPS fair!

Also the ecosystem is already in place and the main toolkit vendors have OPC UA over MQTT in their portfolio. Please read this month’s contributions from ProSysOPC and MatrikonOPC.

Cloud 2: OPC UA IIoT Starter Kit

For a quick and tangible easy adaptation we had already referred to the RaspberryPI based StarterKit in a previous issue – it should not be missing in this listing of cloud topics!

Cloud 3: OPC UA over MQTT Plugfest

I thank the OPC Compliance team for quickly setting up the infrastructure for the “OPC UA over MQTT” Plugfest. Specifications are only a first difficult step, a commitment of the industry to adapt the specs sounds good but only an implemented realization and availability of products is the real signal to the customers to plan the next installations. But everything must also work verifiably – this validation and certification sets the OPC Foundation apart from many a quickly-established initiative. The OPC Foundation has been offering this ecosystem for many years!

Cloud 4: UA for Cloud Library

Congratulations to Erich Barnstedt, Microsoft, as Chairperson and of course to all members of the group “UA for Cloud Library” for the release of the specification but also the real implementation: 66 information models are available in the Cloud Library! I am thrilled that the cooperation with CESMII, under the leadership of John Dyck as our most important collaboration partner in the USA, has led to success so quickly.

Cloud 5: GAIA-X, NTT, Omron

I read with interest the article from Omron on “OPC UA in the context of GAIA-X”. The testbed set up by our OPC member NTT Com has incorporated current technologies like OPC UA but also IDS.

Great interest in OPC Foundation General Assembly and Press Conference

Remarkable and therefore worth mentioning has been the great interest in the OPC Foundation General Assembly meeting in combination with the press conference: More than 580 participants were registered to hear about many of the topics addressed here in this newsletter. The General Assembly also serves to get an overview of the finances, the OPC UA technology from CTO Jim Luth, and the election results to the Board of Directors. My congratulations go to the elected colleagues in the Board – I am looking forward to another intensive time together.

Collaboration on Certification – Progress on First Steps

After my announcement in the last newsletter, concrete steps have already been taken: In an official “letter of intent” the OPC Foundation has written to other organizations like AVNU, FCG, PNO and ODVA and the deep discussions on expert level have already taken place: We want to reduce the number of labs to be included for product vendors! OPC UA is set in many markets and so more and more hybrid products will be offered – with established fieldbus technology and combined OPC UA or also pure OPC UA technology – but always with information models. We are pleased about the cooperation in the interest of our common customers and members.

Collaboration on Information Models

In this year 2021 so far 16 (!) information models have been released from collaborations with partners. In total, the OPC Foundation is hosting 66 information models and the number is constantly increasing. See overview here. Again, I am convinced that besides the domain-specific information models, the harmonization of the models among each other is critically important. My thanks and appreciation therefore go to the VDMA and its member companies for the management of 31 of the 66 information models. But I also congratulate the VDMA for the necessary resources to have founded a new department “Machine Information Interoperability (MII)”. It will be headed by Andreas Faath, whom I would also like to congratulate on his election to the Board for the 2022/2023 term. This is certainly a reward for himself, but also a recognition of the work that VDMA and its members have done.

Looking Ahead to 2022

I would like to list euphorically which activities are planned for 2022. And yes we are planning – most events are already registered on the OPCF website. See list of activities here. Will it happen?

What I wish you and all of us: First be in solidarity and get vaccinated. Second stay healthy, your families and friends and have a few days of peace when the Earth keeps spinning even though many of us are not working.

And let’s stay optimistic: everything will be better in 2022! For sure!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Stefan Hoppe
President, OPC Foundation
stefan.hoppe[AT]opcfoundation.org