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Another step towards Industry 4.0

OPC UA: new standard in machine communication

According to recent polls, standardization poses the greatest challenge in implementing Industry 4.0 measures (the smart factory). Especially regarding machine communication, there is currently a wild conglomerate of communication protocols and drivers. In the past, machine manufacturers largely offered machine-specific custom solutions. Uniting all these custom solutions posed a huge challenge, especially for the IT world.

Meanwhile the OPC communication standard has established an interface that has standardized and thus simplified at least unidirectional data transfer from the machine to IT. For years now, the OPC client integrated in cronetwork’s Machine Data module has been proven to work reliably.

Industrie Informatik setzt mit OPC-UA Server auf Standard in der Maschinenkommunikation für Industrie 4.0

OPC UA server in cronetwork release 19

While the use of OPC technology has focused on unilateral data transfer from the machine to IT, cronetwork Release 19 goes a step beyond. An OPC UA server that is now a component of the proven cronetwork Machine Data module enables you to forward data to various recipients.

Providing extensive information

Via a OPC UA server, data can now be returned to the shop floor. Here the goal is not to take over the machine controls; instead, the intent is to collect extensive data, including machine data and plant data, and then to transfer them via the OPC UA server to various recipients along the value-added chain – all with adherence to the communication standard OPC.

Machine settings based on targeted processing of data

A further application domain results from the various data sources that merge in the OPC UA server. The proven cronetwork PIDO lets you define logic to aggregate, recompute and process data and then forward them via the OPC UA server.

A specific application example: Process data for an operation are collected and processed, then transferred via the OPC UA server to the machine of the next operation, where the collected data influence the required machine settings. This enables correction of slight deviations. Production quality is thus elevated to a new level.

Communication standard paves the way

... toward Industry 4.0, the smart factory. While standards have long since been established at higher levels of IT and production, the shop floor continues to be inundated with countless custom solutions. The M2M communication standard OPC and the new OPC UA server in cronetwork have mastered another piece of the road toward Industry 4.0, the smart factory.

What you need to know about OPC UA

OPC UA is an industrial M2M communication protocol that is used for standardized machine communication and is independent of equipment manufacturer or system vendor.

Its foundation is the OPC interface, which was developed some time ago for the purpose of machine connectivity. The goal of today’s communication standards is to provide an open interface that enables trouble-free, standardized exchange of data among controls, operation and monitoring systems, field devices and office applications from various vendors.

UA (Unified Architecture) is the current OPC specification. It features in particular the capability to not only transfer machine data (e.g., process values, parameters), but also to provide them in machine-readable semantic form.
This technology is the work of the OPC Foundation, a vendor-independent non-profit organization. This ensures the hardware and software platform independence of OPC UA. Additional information is available at www.opcfoundation.org

Source: Fachlexikon MES & Industrie 4.0: MES D.A.CH Verband e.V. (German) 

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