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Data Exchange Method Builds on OPC UA

A new working group is developing a logical extension to the OPC Unified Architecture specification that aims to make plug-and-play analyzers a reality.

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The OPC Foundation has announced support for analyzer devices integration into the OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA), the latest generation of the OPC open communication standard. The OPC Foundation has created a working group composed of end-users and technology suppliers. End-user companies are Pfizer, GSK and Abbott, while technology suppliers are ABB, Mettler-Toledo and Umetrics. These represent both Process Analytical Technology (PAT) and laboratory industries, to develop the information model for all analyzer devices, facilitating plug-and-play multi-vendor interoperability. 

The Analyzer Device Integration Working Group will develop a common method for data exchange and an analyzer data model for process and laboratory analyzers. The model will be developed as a logical extension of the OPC UA specifications. Analyzer integration based on standards will offer unique opportunity in data management and integration for solutions such as PAT, says the OPC Foundation. 

Logical extension 

“The OPC Unified Architecture, through its pluggable information model, provides the solid infrastructure for the configuration, diagnostic and operation information of the wide variety of analyzer devices,” said Jeff Harding, of ABB. “This is a logical extension of the information model development for the industrial Ethernet field devices, allowing all the vendors who are building analyzer devices to capitalize and focus on building the functionality of the analyzer devices without being burdened with the complex details of developing configuration/diagnostic software applications.” 

“In the same way that field-device standards have driven the widespread adoption of intelligent field devices in the process industries, this working group will develop the companion specification to facilitate integration of high level analyzers in manufacturing processes,” said Thomas Buijs, also of ABB. “The OPC Unified Architecture Analyzer Device Specification will provide a single model for analyzer vendors to create and distribute device drivers that expose the capabilities of process and laboratory analyzers using the universally accepted, platform-neutral OPC UA standard.” 

Phil Litherland of GlaxoSmithKline, added, "Standard interfaces drive down the validation costs for project implementation in the pharmaceutical industry. OPC has clearly demonstrated its ability to facilitate interoperability for industrial field devices, such as PLCs (programmable logic controllers), and by modeling the information of the analyzer devices, our industry will be able to integrate analyzer devices into the external systems of today and tomorrow." 

OPC UA is designed to facilitate building complex systems that are composed of products from multiple vendors, and to provided the infrastructure for integration to solve both simple and complex information integration opportunities. 

Making it seamless 

Tom Burke, OPC Foundation president and executive director, said, "The OPC Foundation’s Unified Architecture is a technology that expands the existing OPC successfully adopted technology to facilitate integration of complex devices seamlessly into a total interoperable solution. Analyzer devices will be able to be plugged in as part of the standard infrastructure allowing generic applications from multiple vendors to be able to configure, diagnose and acquire run-time information. OPC recognizes the opportunity to provide the technology that Analyzer device manufacturers can leverage to comprehensively describe their devices, and to take advantage of the best-of-breed existing applications suites to really show off the functionality of the analyzer devices.” 

OPC Foundation

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