Certification, Collaboration, Community

Nov. 12, 2011
Welcome to the November 2011 issue of OPConnect. As the year winds down, the OPC Foundation remains focused on three C's: Certification, Collaboration and Community.

Ten leading vendors certified OPC products in 2011 using OPC Foundation-sanctioned test labs, with many more in the pipeline (see below). Important collaboration work is driving OPC success, including a cooperation between the OPC Foundation and PLCopen (more below). And we continue to support the “OPC Community” by sponsoring events throughout the world, with several still scheduled for this year.

In mid-November, we will hold two OPC Days, designed to educate attendees on the powerful OPC UA (Unified Architecture) specification. Join us in Antwerp, Belgium, on Nov. 16, for OPC Day Benelux 2011, where the focus is on Connecting Evolvable Automation and Business Components with OPC UA. Visit www.ima-research.org/opc-event/ to register. Later that week, on Nov. 18 in Paris, we’ll host OPC Day France—a unique opportunity to connect with the French-speaking OPC community. Contact Michel Condemine, the OPC Foundation French Representative, for details.

During the week of November 21, visit the OPC Foundation at the SPS show in Nuremburg, Germany, where we’ll be in Hall 7, Booth 190. Booth sponsors include Ascolab, Beckhoff, Embedded Labs, HB Softsolution, ICONICS, Indusoft, Kepware, Matrikon, Microsoft, Phoenix Contact, Siemens, Softing, Unified Automation, and Yokogawa.

Finally, 2011 wraps up with the OPC Foundation General Assembly Meeting on Dec. 14, where we’ll conduct an election for four Board of Director members. The OPC Foundation Board of Directors is a team of executives dedicated to advancing interoperability solutions based on the OPC specifications.

Collaboration News

One of the more exciting collaborations is the recent work between the OPC Foundation and the PLCopen to develop a joint specification based on the IEC 61131-1 standard for PLC programming languages. This joint specification defines the mapping of PLCopen information directly into the OPC UA information model namespace. We will continue to expand the feature functionality with OPC UA function blocks for all the major automation PLC vendors. Next steps are building in MES connectivity based on OPC-UA and PLCopen models, with the kick-off meeting to address MES functionality scheduled for Nov. 17 and 18 and hosted by SAP.

Spotlight on Certification

A primary function of the OPC Foundation is to develop and maintain a Certification process for OPC solutions. The OPC Foundation Certification Program assures end-users that certified products from OPC Foundation members meet and exceed user expectations for plug-and-play, secure and reliable interoperability.

Certification testing is provided by an OPC Foundation-sanctioned Test Lab for independent, objective and highly competent verification and testing using a variety of tools and testing techniques that simulate real-world use. A product must pass all tests to become certified.

I’m happy to announce that products from the following companies have passed certification testing in 2011:

  • Beckhoff
  • Canary Labs
  • Control-See
  • Cyberlogic
  • Embedded Labs
  • ExperTune
  • Kepware Technologies
  • MatrikonOPC
  • Siemens AG
  • Software Toolbox

Of note, the Beckhoff and Embedded Labs certified products are for embedded PLC controllers or micro-controllers, which demonstrates the scalability of OPC UA to the embedded platform. There are many, many more products in the “certification pipeline” for release in 2012, and we will update the OPC Foundation web site to make it easy to find these products. Look for the “Certified” logo.

Exciting Plans for 2012

There is no resting on our laurels as we look ahead to 2012. Growth of OPC in China is exceeding expectations and adoption of the OPC technology portfolio continues to rapidly increase as end-users are pushing the suppliers for multivendor, multiplatform interoperability.

OPC Europe continues to expand. There are so many trade shows, user events, and training events in 2012 that it's impossible to identify them all in this column. Some of the significant events include the official Europe OPC Day scheduled for May 16, 2012, in Switzerland and hosted by Endress + Hauser, as well as local regional OPC Days in France, Italy and Spain. Some of the tradeshows in Europe that the OPC Foundation will be participating in include Achema, Hannover Fair and SPS. 

The OPC Foundation is hosting a workshop at the ARC Forum in Orlando (Feb. 7-9) that will deliver a very impressive list of speakers (including end-users talking about the power of the technology and how OPC has increased efficiency by leveraging the OPC technology in a multivendor scenario).

The OPC Foundation has been working very creatively with a number of our toolkit vendors to facilitate widespread adoption and easy deployment of OPC UA-based products into the marketplace. Our business strategy is to provide the right technology, specifications, certification and processes that enable vendors to successfully bring quality products to the marketplace for multivendor, multiplatform, secure and reliable interoperability.

I'm very excited about where OPC is going and the vision of interoperability being widely accepted and adopted by the end-users and the vendor community. From all of us at the OPC Foundation, we wish you happy holidays and a successful and prosperous 2012.

Thomas J. Burke

OPC Foundation President & Executive Director.

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