How you benefit when standards bodies collaborate

Why standards groups must collaborate to achieve true plug-and-play products, and what OPC is doing to facilitate interoperability in the next generation of standards and products.

Plug-and-play consumer electronics products continue to drive expectations for similar plug-and-play functionality in industrial automation. OPC has long collaborated with other consortia and standards organizations to standardize information models for data exchange, allowing OPC to become the generic communication mechanism for information modeling activities.

The big example is OPC's collaboration with several organizations as part of the Field Device Integration (FDI) initiative, designed to attack the problem of how to configure devices across an industrial network. OPC works with Foundation Fieldbus, Hart, PROFIBUS/PROFINET, FDT, and other organizations to evolve the next generation of standards from the existing Electronic Device Description Language (EDDL) and Field Device Tool (FDT) standards. OPC acts as the neutral party, a transport mechanism on top of existing standards and protocols.

Another example is OPC UA for IEC 61131-3. OPC is working with PLCopen to implement the IEC 61131-3 standard for programming of control systems on an OPC UA server address space. The corresponding OPC UA object types are created from declarations of function blocks in the PLC and corresponding OPC UA objects from instances of the function blocks. This means that a control program, regardless of the controller being used and the OPC UA server, is always implemented in the same structure of objects in the address space.

With OPC, information models from other standards bodies or consortia only need to define what information needs to be exchanged, without getting bogged down by how the information must be exchanged. The how is handled by OPC UA.

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