OPC Europe President Stefan Hoppe, at the recent OPC Day Europe held May 16, returned to the theme of “collaboration” with details of the work being done with PLCopen, particularly with function blocks. He said that any device executing 61131-3 logic should expose their information model in a semantic, standardized way via OPC UA in order to enable transparent data exchange between, vertically, SCADA/MES/ERP systems and a PLC and, horizontally, from PLC to PLC. More rapid engineering using standardized faceplates is a target. Work on an IEC-OPC UA-Server project is also underway, enabling faster interoperability testing and certification, while other function blocks are being developed for communications, diagnostics and file transfer. MES connectivity is being defined to allow MES data to be transported. Collaboration with VDMA, ZVEI and others is ensuring that existing MES standards are fully supported, he added.
Collaboration, albeit at a higher level, was the theme of Dennis Brandl from BR&L Consulting, an active member of the ISA-95 Enterprise/Control system Integration committee and Chairman of the joint IEC/ISO working group developing the IEC62264 standard. He explained the work being done in “the space between business systems and the shop floor.” Up until now, he said, OPC has focused on the equipment side, but in between that and the enterprise there are many unmet challenges. ISA-95 is looking at OPC UA as a way of modelling these factors “beyond just the raw values of the data.”
Paul Hunkar highlighted the involvement of OPC UA in other standardization processes. Discussions with BACnet are underway to map their data to OPC UA, with an announcement expected in the fall. Other collaborations are underway in security, sub-sea drilling, energy and transportation. The key factor, said Hunkar, is OPC UA’s information model, which is readily extended outside the automation arena.
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