Training Events, OPC UA & Collaboration Highlight 2007

Tom Burke, president and executive director of the OPC Foundation, looks back on the Foundation’s milestone events in 2007, and looks forward to continued collaborations in 2008 with IEC, MIMOSA, OMAC and ProdML groups.

Tom Burke, president and executive director of the OPC Foundation
Tom Burke, president and executive director of the OPC Foundation

Welcome to the November 2007 edition of OPConnect, the official newsletter of the OPC Foundation. As we wind down our activities this year, and look forward to events in 2008, I’d like to reflect on some of the highlights of 2007 for the OPC Foundation.
 
First off, the OPC training events held at various locations in 2007 offered a great opportunity for both end-users and vendors to really network together to maximize their use of the OPC Foundation technology. At the same time, these vendor-neutral sessions provided a solid foundation for end-users to learn the techniques and tools for OPC-based solutions.

Next year, the OPC Foundation will host eight of these training events in North America, and potentially an additional four sessions in Europe. These are free events for end-users to learn about OPC, and meet the event sponsors, who are the vendors that develop best-of-breed products using OPC technology in a certified fashion. The OPC Foundation Web site, www.opcfoundation.org, will update important information on these training events, as schedules are completed.
 
In addition, there have been a number of training events and seminars focused on existing OPC and the next-generation OPC Unified Architecture (UA) that has furthered the evangelism and adoption of the technology. When the Foundation first started development of the OPC UA specification, it was focused on how to move data and information from devices on the factory floor to the enterprise. One of the key things that the OPC vendors discovered was the scalable architecture and the ability for the service-oriented architecture to be deployed in embedded devices.

Recently I participated in an embedded human-machine interface (HMI) conference in Frankfurt, Germany. This conference was all about jumpstarting the embedded HMI vendors using the OPC UA technology. At the OPC UA Developers’ Conference that the OPC Foundation held in June in Scottsdale, Arizona, we demonstrated multiple vendors providing OPC UA capabilities in both programmable logic controller (PLC) and distributed control system (DCS) platforms.
 
Over the last few months, we’ve seen a groundswell of vendors and end-users rallying behind the next-generation OPC technology. I’ve often spoken about collaboration as the foundation of the OPC vision, with respect to secure, reliable interoperability across all facets of automation and beyond. But now collaboration has taken a major leap, with the number of standards consortiums adopting OPC UA as a service-oriented architecture for transporting their information among multiple vendor applications and devices.
 
In the early days of the Foundation, OPC was really about collaboration among competitors, and was a highly vendor-driven initiative for vendors that wanted to have a standard interface for accessing data from devices on the factory floor, in both discrete and process industries. We learned a lot about competitors working together, and we have modeled this as the fundamental principle that we’ve continued to pursue as we collaborate with other standards organizations. The end-goal of collaboration is to provide secure, reliable, interoperability specifications for the technology, process and certification, so that vendors can deliver shrink-wrap OPC products that dramatically exceed the expectations of their end-users.
 
Speaking of the shrink wrap concept, OPC has partnered with OMAC for the packaging world, and demonstrated OPC UA with PackML at the Pack Expo Show held last month in Las Vegas . Next year, the OPC Foundation will participate in the Pack Expo Show in Chicago, and we plan to have approximately 20 vendors demonstrating interoperability leveraging the information model of PackML.
 
Also last month, at the ISA Show in Houston, we had an impressive demonstration showing the collaboration and partnership of the Open Operations & Maintenance (OpenO&M) initiative. I’m really very excited about the work that we have been doing with this group during the past eight years, which demonstrates a true partnership between OPC and MIMOSA.
 
Coming attractions in 2008

Next year will be the rollout of the products based on the OPC Unified Architecture specification. The OPC Foundation has provided a solid infrastructure to facilitate adoption that is platform-independent and supports a highly scalable architecture for deployment from embedded devices all the way to the enterprise.

We’ve started an initiative with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) where we have formally begun the process of gaining international standardization recognition. A working group has been created under IEC SC65E that is focused on OPC Unified Architecture.

We will continue our focus on collaboration to make sure we provide the solid infrastructure that allows consortiums to obtain secure reliable interoperability for describing and moving their data and information among multi-vendor applications. To that end, the OPC Foundation has been working with the ProdML Group, which is an initiative launched by a group of energy companies, software and service providers, and an industry standards organization, and is focused on helping producers independently optimize their oil and gas production by improving data exchange and work process efficiency through development of the ProdML standard (PRODuction xML). In an upcoming edition of the OPConnect newsletter in 2008, I will provide an update on the OPC partnership and collaboration with ProdML.

I also will be talking in upcoming newsletter editions about the widely acclaimed  EDDL  and FDI collaborative efforts with OPC. The concept of partnering with the industrial Ethernet consortiums was the original concept behind OPC DX, which was developed in 2001. With the OPC Unified Architecture, OPC DX shall be deployed into embedded devices. 
 
The Foundation will continue to focus on certification in the new independent certification test laboratory. The lab is already up and running, and is actively testing all vendor products to ensure the highest quality, most interoperable experience that the end-users can dream of.
 
We continue to measure our success by the level of OPC adoption. With that in mind, I’m very interested in your direct feedback on what the OPC Foundation can do for you. I encourage you to regularly check the events section of the OPC Foundation website, at www.opcfoundation.org, to make yourself aware of the opportunities from both the OPC Foundation and its vendors to help you benefit from the use of OPC technology.

 


 

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