OPC Foundation Announces IEC Standard for OPC UA; Opens Certification Lab

Thomas Burke, president and executive director of the OPC Foundation, discusses OPC developments, such as collaboration projects for interoperability, the IEC standard for OPC UA, hands-on workshops for OPC users and developers, and highlights of OPC efforts around the world.

Aw 1537 10 08 Burke Photo

Welcome to the August 2010 edition of OPConnect, the official newsletter of the OPC Foundation. I thought this would be a good opportunity to give readers a status update of significant events that have occurred in the world of OPC during the first three quarters of 2010.

The OPC Foundation has been actively working with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) to get OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA) the international standards recognition it deserves through the IEC organization. We expect that the major OPC UA specifications will be released through IEC by the end of 2010.

In addition to the IEC initiative, there were also a number of open source initiatives in the European community based on the OPC technology. Complete information can be found under the OPC Europe section on the OPC Foundation website, www.opceurope.org.

Collaboration Key to Interoperability

Creating collaboration among standards bodies is key to building interoperability into OPC. For example, OPC UA is being used for the infrastructure in a number of collaborative opportunities, including support for the information models of analyzer devices (ADI), field device integration, or FDI, which is a multi-consortium effort between EDDL (PROFIBUS, Foundation Fieldbus, HART foundation, OPC), and FDT, PLCopen, and Smart Grid opportunities. We're also working with a number of other consortiums to build information models that are tightly integrated into the OPC UA architecture. Impressive demonstrations of the technology have been done via electronic webinars as well as at several major trade shows in Europe.

How can end-users ensure that their OPC products are interoperable? Make sure that your vendor is verifying their products through OPC Foundation-sponsored Interoperability Workshops and at the OPC Foundation Certification Lab, scheduled to open on Sept. 1, 2010. The Foundation has already hosted two interoperability workshops in North America and Japan, and we have one more to go in Europe in 2010. Interoperability workshops are exciting venues for the vendors, where competitors can make sure their products all work together. Over 70 companies will have participated in the interoperability workshops this year. For more information, please visit the OPC Foundation website, www.opcfoundation.org.

Speaking of interoperability, the OPC Foundation is also hosting a unique hands-on OPC UA .Net Developers’ course for all vendors, system integrators, and developers who want to build an OPC UA product. The venue will provide a way for companies to bring their existing OPC Classic products to the workshop, held October 18-21 in Scottsdale, Ariz., and by the end of the week they'll have actually converted their product to supporting OPC UA technology and will test it with other vendors’ products. We'll also be doing a special walk-through of the OPC Foundation Certification Lab as part of this hands-on developer workshop. Whether you have an OPC Classic product now, or a ready-to-release OPC UA product, this OPC UA .Net Developers’ Course is for you. Interested parties can register at OPC UA .Net Developers’ Course.

OPC Around the Globe

The OPC Foundation has been very active in 2010 in the major regions of the world. In North America, the OPC Road Shows have made a roaring comeback, with the completion of four successful events and two more to go, in Atlanta and Boston. The road shows—free one-day training seminars—offer a unique opportunity to understand the “bits and bytes” from an end-user perspective on the OPC technology, and to meet the sponsoring vendors to learn about products and technology in action. Register for one of the remaining events at our events page.

In Europe, one of the most significant things that the Foundation did this year was to revitalize the OPC Europe organization. The leaders of OPC Europe have been actively working with all the countries in the European Union to increase membership in the OPC Foundation, and increase adoption and awareness of OPC technology. In April OPC Europe participated in two major trade shows in Germany. Both shows were extremely successful ventures in joint booths with PLCopen.

In November the OPC Foundation will continue to promote North American companies, and OPC technology in Europe, by exhibiting at the SPS Drive Fair in Nürnberg, Germany, with a dedicated OPC booth. We already have 12 vendor companies and sponsors, displaying their products and demonstrating their commitment to interoperability. Complete information can be found on the OPC Foundation website, www.opcfoundation.org,

The Foundation has also had a strong presence in Asia. In September 2010, we will be in Japan for the OPC Foundation board meeting and will then travel to China to begin the process of opening up a regional organization in China. I've already been to Japan twice this year to work with Japanese companies who are committed to developing leading-edge OPC products.

I'm always saying that success is measured by the level of adoption of the technology. This year we are seeing increased excitement and adoption by both the vendors and end-users with respect to the OPC technology portfolio and the certification tools and process. Make sure you regularly check out the OPC Foundation website, www.opcfoundation.org, to see the latest news from the OPC Foundation as well as the OPC Foundation member companies.

Did you know that the OPC Foundation maintains a product catalog of all the OPC Foundation products and gives you a great report on what products have been certified and with what vendors’ products have been tested? (OPC Products)

Thank you for taking time out from your busy day to read this edition of the OPC Foundation newsletter. Please feel free to contact me directly with any suggestions or questions you may have about the wonderful world of OPC and how we can help you best maximize your use of the technology in the pursuit of secure reliable interoperability in industrial automation and beyond.

Thomas J. Burke
OPC Foundation President and Executive Director
Thomas.Burke@OPCFoundation.org            

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