President’s Welcome – June 2022

A warm welcome to you all,

An incredible amount has happened in the last few months. I’ll start immediately to give an overview:

Organization: Multiple Changes to Board of Directors – New Chairperson

Please remember the OPC Foundation (OPCF) was started as an OT-dominated organization. Most founding representatives on the BoD have been from North America but already including a member from Europe as well as Japan. The Board decided to expand the Board with representatives from the IT world in 2015 with the additions of Microsoft and SAP. Now in 2022 we see another significant change. As OPC UA is more than just a protocol and instead the value is to transport standardized information models, it’s a logical consequence that VDMA, who alone is pushing half of the 65+ information models, is represented on the BoD as result of democratic election. In addition, it’s the second time a representative from an IT company has been elected as chairperson: Microsoft has spent huge effort over years supporting open international standards – electing Dr. Kenn is reflective of these efforts. The mix of OT and IT companies comprising the OPC Foundation Board of Directors attests to how far the organization has grown from its shop-floor-centric OT roots to playing a key role in enterprise-wide and cloud-based IT solutions.

The Board has many other personnel changes – I thank all retiring Board colleagues for their outstanding service and warmly welcome the new representatives! Read the details here.


Technology

OPC UA for Cloud

The “OPC UA cloud” initiative consists of 3 pillars: (1) Cloud Library, (2) Cloud Federation and (3) edge to cloud and cloud to edge communications. OPCF loves MQTT, but we all know MQTT as a “payload agnostic” transport is not enough. That’s why OPCF defined in Part 14 the PubSub mapping not only for UDP but also MQTT. After 6 major cloud providers confirmed their commitment to “OPC UA over MQTT” (see here) the OPCF-Cloud-Plugfest welcomes more and more OT companies pushing data: Beckhoff, KUKA, Matrikon, OPCLabs, Phoenix Contact, Pilz, ProsysOPC , Siemens, Trumpf, Microsoft, Mettler Toledo, and Unified Automation.

To participate please contact Alexander Allmendinger, email: alexander.allmendinger[AT]opcfoundation.org.

OPC UA for Field

In June 2015, the OPCF initiated a sub-group under the OPC UA core team to work on Controller-to-Controller communication optionally including TSN. Later in 2018, this initiative was heavily accelerated and merged into the “OPC UA Field Level Communications” (FLC) Initiative. My congratulations to the leader Peter Lutz representing more than 320 experts from 65 companies: the demo displaying “standardized Controller-to-Controller communication including Safety” has no competitive technology on the market and so this group is solving a true gap for the industry! Read details here.

GDS

Establishing secure communication between a few assets is easy – but for onboarding and security management of complete systems including a large number of assets, the OPCF is offering “Global Discovery and Security” (GDS) Management which can be established on multiple levels. Unified Automation and Siemens announced the first commercial offerings during the OPCF press conference at Hannover Messe. See the recording of the press conference here.

Standardization Takes Some Time

During Hannover Messe I had the pleasure to be involved in confidential meetings of international big-name companies indicating their product launches planned for the second half of 2022. Domain-specific OPC UA-based companion specs will be mandatory for their markets – and also cloud vendors are supporting this. Looking back it takes some time: from the idea of a few visionary people, finding the critical mass of supporters, defining the spec, validation via prototyping, optimization and entering the market until end-users make it mandatory. So I am thrilled and can’t wait to announce it later this year.

Marketplace

The OPC Foundation proudly announced a new marketplace for OPC UA enabled products. Remember my comparison of OPC UA to the lego brick system: Just ordering “Product must support OPC UA” is not enough and so the most important feature of the new marketplace is the filter mechanism so you can find exactly what you are looking for. Special thanks to Alexander Allmendinger to coordinate this activity – we are happy to see more and more companies filling their products into the marketplace to take advantage of this tool. Read details here.


OPC Day International 2022: Recordings Available

This virtual event happened at the end of April and we were proudly supported by 1810+ registered people from around the world. Attendees participating live had the benefit of 1h live Q&A each day but the expert presentations have been recorded. The slides and recordings are available here.


Trade Show Activities: Ramping up from 0 to 100

Lots of trade shows were moved into the months of May and June – let’s try to give a short recap:

SPS-Italy

Original we planned to have an OPCF booth and show the OPC UA cloud and field offerings – but due to the rescheduled Hannover Messe and impossible booth builder logistics, we were forced to cancel. After my personal participation and lots of fantastic talks at the show, the result is that we will definitely try to join in 2023!

May 30 – June 3: 2022 Hannover Fair

The OPCF booth at Hannover Messe was a huge success: With 255sqm we ran the largest but also most beautifully designed OPCF booth. Demos included the first commercial GDS offering but also the field and cloud initiatives mentioned above. The quantity of visitors to the OPCF booth was unexpectedly high plus the quality of the talks have been incredibly fantastic! Also it was the first time the OPCF Europe team could personally welcome Mike Clark, Director, North America. He became part of our team in April 2020 and had the difficult task of accepting a new job and ramping up in a pandemic situation. We are all glad to see Mike is a perfect match! See pictures as impressions here and the recording of the press conference here.

June 6 – 9, 2022: Automate Show, Detroit

Directly from Hannover Messe we traveled to Detroit to setup the OPCF booth in Detroit. It was a special pleasure to meet Tom Burke, former President OPC Foundation again! We will join Automate also next time and focus more specifically on robotics.

June 6 – 9, 2022: ARC Forum, Orlando

As always ARC Forum was THE meeting place for leadership-level personnel in North America. As a Gold Sponsor we ran our OPC session with lots of interest. All major important activities in the area of process automation like MDIS, MTP and OPA-S have selected OPC UA as their backbone technology for secured information exchange. As ARC Forum had been rescheduled in 2022, we could not show our field and cloud demos (as they were in Detroit for Automate) – let’s cross fingers we can show them in 2023.

June 21 – 24, 2022: Analytica, Munich

OPCF proudly participated the activities in the area of lab assets: For standardized communication between all lab devices, LADS (Laboratory and Analytical Device Standard) is the key technology. For analytical hardware integration into (chromatography) data systems, it’s CAISI (Common Analytical Instrument System Integration). Both chairpersons are working and aligning close with each other – see their recordings here.

June 21 – 23, 2022: Embedded World, Nuremberg

From Munich to Nuremberg it’s just around the corner and so OPCF also had a booth at the Embedded World show – which also had been rescheduled from earlier in the year. Many visitors were saddened to not see our live demos here. I also learned that some attendees were unaware of the OPCF offerings based on Rasperry Pi as an education platform. The OPC UA based “IIoT-Starter-Kit” gives a great user experience by easily showing 3 solutions “OPC UA over MQTT”. Play around with the solutions based on an international IEC standard in less than 1 hour. See the landing page here.

 Upcoming Events

See the call-for-participation here https://opcfoundation.org/news-events/events/


Collaborations

OPC UA is the glue bringing and keeping things together from the OT and IT worlds. We are proud to announce further joint activities with other associations like AIM, ODVA, PI, VDMA, and ZVEI-5G-ACIA. See details about OPC UA for “Global Positioning”, “Power Consumption”, and “5G” here.

If you want to meet the majority of the OPCF team and would like to see all demos from field, cloud, embedded, etc. please join the Achema trade show starting on August 22 in Frankfurt on an incredible 324sqm booth. Expect additional exciting news announcements there as well!


Enjoy reading this newsletter…

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

 

 

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