5 Questions for Tom Burke

Dec. 1, 2005
Tom Burke, president and executive director of the OPC Foundation, discusses five hot topics surrounding OPC technology.

1. What is OPC and how does it create value for software developers and end-users?

OPC is the “Universal Serial Bus” equivalent for manufacturing. It provides a standard connectivity solution for interoperability among hardware and software products, without requiring the use of custom drivers.

From a software developer’s perspective, OPC promotes the efficient use of technology by allowing a company to focus on its core competencies, without having to devote resources to develop multiple software drivers that add little inherent value.

The end-user value of OPC is all about interoperability. End-users can buy “best-in-breed” components and know that they will work together, from the factory floor to the enterprise business systems.

2. What is the mission of the OPC Foundation?

The mission of the OPC Foundation is threefold. First, the Foundation develops and manages the OPC standards in a way that leverages technology and the work of existing standards bodies. Second, it provides a member community in which end-users and solution developers can collaborate to ensure technology needs are met and products interoperate. And third, the Foundation markets and promotes the use of OPC technology in manufacturing, retail, medical, facility and security applications.

3. Why should a company become a member of the OPC Foundation?

Solution providers should join the OPC Foundation to take advantage of the technology and certification tools available to validate that their OPC solutions are truly interoperable.

End-users should join the OPC Foundation as a conduit to the multi-vendor supplier community, and to steer the direction of vendor technology development.

4. What is the one thing you are the most proud of that the OPC Foundation has accomplished in the past year?

I’m most proud of the fact that this is truly a vendor and end-user driven initiative. OPC is about member companies willing to dedicate volunteers, who are the life-blood of the working groups that develop OPC technology. In many cases, they are competitors—but they are willing to cooperate and build consensus, in order to develop products that really work together. With interoperable OPC products, end-users are able to deploy multi-vendor solutions using industry-leading components.

5. What is the one thing that you most look forward to in the coming year, as president and executive director of the OPC Foundation?

I look forward to OPC becoming the “de facto” standard across industry for interoperability. Our success is born out in the significant adoption of the OPC technology by both vendors and end-users, even outside of the traditional automation applications.

For more information, please visit the OPC Foundation Web site, www.opcfoundation.org.

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