E+H Endorses OPC UA Integration; Siemens Announces Embedded OPC UA

June 4, 2012
Several automation suppliers discussed integration of OPC UA during OPC Day Europe on May 16. Endress + Hauser shared its vision to use OPC UA to connect the communications infrastructure, while Siemens introduced the SIMOCODE pro intelligent motor management system that features an ARM chip supporting an embedded OPC UA server.

Another perspective on “collaboration” was produced by Eugenio Neto from host company Endress + Hauser Process Solutions at the recent OPC Day Europe. He explained his company’s vision of Business Process Integration (BPI), or how to help customers improve their business processes. Most manufacturing facilities have two different views of data he said: the plant floor takes a bottom-up approach because it needs to optimize productivity and plant utilization, while the business level takes a top-down approach to better decision-making. There are many levels in between where information gets stuck. “Silos of information” was how he described this. A paradigm shift is therefore taking place. “We are still living in a system-centric world,” he said, “but we are moving towards an information-centric world.” BPI means we can deliver business and IT consulting services along with product sales, in other words, IT-ready automation solutions, services and partner collaboration.  In this environment, “OPC UA starts to be very relevant and OPC becomes a kind of ‘automation connector’ for the enterprise-level systems,” said Neto.

Later, during the question-and-answer session, Neto revealed how his company’s IT professionals had been brought into contact with customers in order to discover more about enterprise integration issues.  This directly led to the BPI philosophies now being rolled out, he told attendees.

“OPC UA allows us to connect to any kind of communications infrastructure but the big question is: how do you map information through BPI middleware into higher level enterprise systems?”  Six projects are ongoing and “we have been cooperating with SAP Research too,” he said, to find answers to additional questions like: “What if our instrumentation could ask for help automatically, using OPC UA to generate error tickets.” Neto said his company is adopting OPC UA-enabled processes in all its major Automation Solution platforms and OPC UA will be a “core discipline.” “We are augmenting our Ethernet strategy with OPC UA technology convergence and we continue to follow OPC Foundation collaboration efforts also.”

Later, Bernard Neumann of Siemens introduced the SIMOCODE pro intelligent motor management system, which is targeted at the process industries. This features an ARM chip supporting an embedded OPC UA server. OPC UA enables direct access to motor data, facilitating visualization of motor conditions, intelligent energy management processes, etc. The system delivers status information, diagnostics, measured values and statistical data and “more than 400 items can be browsed in 100mS.”  Neumann closed with the promise that: “I am sure we will see more field devices with embedded OPC UA servers like this in the future.”

For more information, visit www.opcfoundation.org.

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