AutomationML and OPC UA Cooperate


Both organizations will provide an interoperability standard for Industrie 4.0 – Germany’s project for the Factory of the Future

Nuremberg, Germany November 27, 2013. The OPC Foundation, dedicated to ensuring interoperability in automation by creating and maintaining open specifications, and the AutomationML association, targeting the lossless exchange of engineering information along the engineering tool chain, announce a memorandum of understanding.

AutomationML is a data exchange standard for engineering data standardized in IEC 62814. It provides a standard of standards to make engineering tools interoperable in order to decrease costs for data exchange, transforming data from one engineering tool to another, etc. AutomationML uses the open standard formats

  • Computer Aided Engineering Exchange (CAEX) according to IEC 62424 to describe plant topology information, e.g. for robots, machines and cells,
  • COLLADA according to ISO/PAS 17506 to describe Geometry and Kinematics of manufacturing equipment and
  • PLCopenXML to describe behavior and step sequences for PLCs following IEC 61131-3.

OPC is a family of technologies intended to establish information exchange between different industrial control systems on different control layers in a standardized way. With OPC-UA it provides a most advanced and widely used system applicable to connect field control devices with higher control layers.

To make the future factory become reality, manufacturing industries and R&D organizations have launched the strategic initiative of Industrie 4.0. One major challenge of this initiative is the interoperability of devices, machines, controllers and IT-systems from different vendors. They should be enabled to communicate seamlessly. All these mechatronic components contain basic information about their geometry, their kinematics and their logic or, in more general their abilities. The description of these abilities is required when a factory is going into operation or in case of any physical change on the shop floor.

With the combination of AutomationML and OPC-UA it will be possible to communicate the abilities of components in a factory factories are getting smarter by the way of new interfaces that will enable them to react more or less autonomously to any changes.

One key thing is to put in place intelligent links between the manufacturing facilities and the IT systems. Today, if a product is changed, the first step is to rearrange the production line. Afterwards the IT system is reconfigured. Whats more, the details of each machine that belongs on the line have to be entered manually into an engineering tool. This work is tedious and error-prone, involving as it does a multitude of cryptic alphanumeric combinations. And the trouble is, you only notice any mistakes when the line is back up and running, says Olaf Sauer, VP manufacturing IT at Fraunhofer IOSB. Combining the description of factory devices by AutomationML and its communication via OPC-UA the factory of the future comes up with a more elegant approach: Now employees can simply plug in a data cable and thats it. The magic words are plug and work in similarity to plug and play based on USB technology.

With AutomationML and OPC-UA it will be possible to manage various digital device descriptions: the description is converted and used for OPC-UAs information model. Interoperability is no longer a vision: the cooperation of AutomationML and OPC-UA makes it becomes reality.

To make this vision work OPC Foundation and AutomationML will establish a common working group developing recommendations how to model AutomationML based information sets using OPC-UA information model and how to transmit them.

Interested companies are invited to join AutomationML association and OPC Foundation to participate in this development process to bring in its own requirements and technical competences.

About AutomationML
The AutomationML initiative is an open and industrial consortium established in 2006 and transferred to a German association in 2009. It has now 27 members from different industrial areas with leading members like ABB, Daimler, Kuka, and Siemens.

Main aim of the association is the development, distribution, and adoption of the AutomationML data format, an XML based, neutral, open, free of charge, and vendor independent industrial standard for the company wide and discipline crossing exchange of engineering information along the tool chain of engineering organizations of manufacturing and process industries. Therefore, AutomationML will not establish a completely new data format but apply, adapt, extend, and integrate existing ones. Thereby, up to now, plant planning and engineering information like system topology information, geometry and kinematics information and control behavior information have been enabled to be exchanged. Thus, AutomationML is the currently most advanced and broad applicable data format for plant engineering and construction which is successfully applied within different practical application cases.

AutomationML will now be established as international standard within IEC 62714.
The AutomationML association assists users of the AutomationML data format within the design and implementation of tool interfaces based on AutomationML by providing software packages, knowledge, and training. Information material and software systems related to AutomationML can be downloaded free of charge from

About The OPC Foundation
Since 1996, the OPC Foundation has facilitated the development and adoption of the OPC information exchange standards. As both advocate and custodian of these specifications, the Foundations mission is to help industry vendors, end-users, and software developers maintain interoperability in their manufacturing and automation assets. The organization serves over 450 members worldwide in the Industrial Automation, Building Automation, Oil & Gas, and Smart Energy sectors. For more information about the OPC Foundation, please visit


Nicole Schmidt, AutomationML Office, Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg
E-Mail:, Tel: +49 391 / 67 580 04

John Bentham, OPC Foundation, Director of Marketing
E-Mail:, Tel: +1 (512) 828-1930