OPC UA for Factory Automation

In today’s complex economy, information is the key to business success and profitability. OPC technologies were created to allow information to be easily and securely exchanged between diverse platforms from multiple vendors and to allow seamless integration of those platforms without costly, time-consuming software development.

This landing page is a subset of information specific for the Factory Automation.
(see pre-selected information for Factory Automation here)

OPC UA (IEC62541) Technology

OPC UA is much more than just a protocol – it’s a framework to define and exchange standardized data with included (built in by design) end-to-end security over multiple protocols.

  • OPC UA technology brochure, available here
  • OPC UA technology videos, available here
    5 short videos (each 6min-15min) provide an excellent starting point to get more information about “OPC UA Concepts”, “OPC UA Transport”, “OPC UA Security”, “OPC UA Profiles” and “OPC UA Discovery”
  • “OPC UA Security deep dive” video, available here

OPC UA FX Specifications extensions

The vision of the OPC Field Level Communications (FLC) initiative – started in November 2018 – is to bring OPC UA down to the field and extend the existing OPC UA framework to meet all the requirements of industrial automation and to develop one harmonized solution for industrial interoperability in factory automation but also process automation.
The extensions include:

  • the definition a base model with standardized system behaviors and functionalities that are common to all controllers (e.g. DCS, PLC, Motion Control) and all field devices, such as servo drives, distributed I/Os and process instruments.
  • the harmonization and standardization of application profiles such as IO, motion control, functional safety, system redundancy
  • the standardization of OPC UA information models for field- level devices in online and offline scenarios, e.g. device description, diagnostics, etc.
  • the integration of OPC UA companion models
  • support of Ethernet TSN for deterministic communication and IT/OT convergence
  • definition of facets, profiles and conformance units that can be tested to guarantee interoperability across vendors
  • definition of certification procedures

To get more information about the 8 FLC technical working groups, the steering committee with 4 sub-groups and the technical white paper please navigate here: https://opcfoundation.org/flc/

Information models for factory automation

Exchanging data in a secured way is nice to have but is just the starting point: Semantic interoperability provides standardized data and their meaning and provides plug and produce. Today the OPC Foundation is collaborating with partners in 60+ joint working groups (JWG) defining the semantics for machines, devices and services in so-called “OPC Companion Specifications”.

  • Introduction OPC Companion Specifications, read here

A huge number of companion specifications with focus on “Factory Automation” have been done already.

  • OPC Joint working Groups (JWG), see full list here
  • Landing pages for each dedicated JWG see here

Just a few examples are

  • OPC UA for Robotics
  • OPC UA for EuroMap (Injection Moulding Machines)
  • OPC UA for Machine Vision
  • OPC UA for AutoID
  • OPC UA for IEC61131-3
  • OPC UA Client for IEC61131-3