OPC: A Set of Solutions for Today's Challenges

Thomas Burke, president and executive director of the OPC Foundation, outlines how OPC technology has evolved to meet current manufacturing challenges, and how you can benefit.

Aw 2093 Opc Burke Photo
Welcome to the March 2010 edition of OPConnect, the official newsletter of the OPC Foundation. It’s the first year of a new decade (some would say good riddance to the old) and 2010 is already promising to be a great year for OPC technology developments.

The global economic downturn has challenged manufacturers to look for new opportunities to maximize return on investment. Whether you’re an end-user of technology or a technology solutions supplier, your 2010 objectives are sure to include finding ways to improve efficiency of operations, cut costs, and enhance overall productivity. Well, the OPC Foundation has a solution for you!

OPC is “open connectivity” in industrial automation and enterprise systems based on “open standards.” The first OPC standard, now called the Data Access Specification, was the result of a collaboration among leading automation suppliers and Microsoft to define a standard set of objects, interfaces and methods that could be used in process control and manufacturing automation applications to facilitate interoperability and connectivity. Similar to the standard printer driver, the DA specification simplified connections among disparate automation equipment, providing both end-users and equipment makers with flexibility and cost savings.
 
Just as communication technology has evolved, so have OPC specifications. The OPC Foundation now supports a series of standards specifications, including alarming, batch processing, server-to-server communications (with multivendor interoperability), historical data access, XML support and the new OPC Unified Architecture. Click here for more information on the OPC Foundation specifications.

In another evolution, OPC has expanded beyond its traditional industrial automation base to provide cost-saving solutions in building automation, security, transportation and, most recently, the Smart Grid. OPC technology users realize that the opportunities for data and information integration cut across all domains. Collaboration—among vertical industry groups and with other standards organizations—is one of the most significant activities the OPC Foundation offers to its members. The Foundation can accomplish what no one single company, or even industry can do. We’re focused on delivering technology that bridges competitive concerns and leverages cooperative intelligence.
 
Free OPC training seminars

We're also putting a lot of energy into expanding the reach of OPC technology by supporting events in North America and Europe. A number of these events are purely educational in nature, such as the six North American OPC Foundation training events we will hold in 2010. These one-day FREE seminars will include an overview of OPC specifications as well as hands-on demonstrations. Seating is limited, so click here to view the schedule and register.


At the beginning of February, the OPC Foundation announced the launch of the official European subsidiary of the OPC Foundation—OPC Europe. The European community has clearly voiced that OPC UA will be the future of industrial data communications in Europe. OPC Europe will initially consist of a core group of member companies including ascolab, Beckhoff, Matrikon, Siemens and Softing. Supporting these efforts, the Foundation will participate in various European trade events, including Hannover Fair in Hannover, Germany, and the SPS/IPC/Drives Show in Nürnberg, Germany. For more information about OPC Europe, please visit the Website at www.opceurope.org.

A core activity of the OPC Foundation is to ensure the delivery of highest quality solutions. We offer the OPC vendors various technology, training and certification processes to help them exceed the expectations of the end-users for secure, reliable interoperability. I encourage you to visit the Foundation Website, www.opcfoundation.org, where you’ll find the OPC product catalog and details on the Foundation product certification programs.

As always, I invite you to send me your thoughts and comments at Thomas.Burke@OPCfoundation.org.

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