OPC Technology Summit

Oct. 18, 2012
The inaugural OPC Technology Summit drew about 110 people to learn about OPC UA--the technology, the status and how it's being used even now.

I've written much about OPC UA from the OPC Foundation (www.opcfoundation.org)--the technology update designed to move OPC beyond its Microsoft COM/DCOM roots and into modern, multi-platform software engineering. Today's packed agenda included several use cases where UA's ability to live harmoniously with corporate IT networking infrastructure as data is moved from device to application was the optimum solution.

Thomas Burke, OPC Foundation president, opened the session explaining the path away from COM/DCOM to the current multi-platform technology. He also stressed how certification gives users assurance of interoperability of OPC messaging from vendor to vendor.

Rashesh Mody, Invensys sr. vice president and former OPC Foundation chief technology officer, presented the value proposition of OPC. Actually, this may be the best explanation I've heard on the subject. He related the value to companies' striving for operational excellence by aligning the right things at the right time--people, materials, utilities, equipment--protecting and preserving value while creating values. OPC UA offers lower total cost of ownership (TCO), empowerment of workers among many other benefits.

Mbaga Ahorukomeye of Schlumberger detailed a petroleum drilling operation featuring how OPC UA moved data for improved operations.

Stefan Hoppe, product manager of embedded software at Beckhoff and president of OPC Foundation Europe, discussed a joint working group of OPC Foundation and PLCopen that is developing function blocks for programming various OPC UA messages in IEC 61131.

Had you followed my advice about attending the event, you would have a new respect and understanding of where OPC UA fits in the automation toolbox--and that many companies are already developing products and many users are exploiting the benefits.

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