News: company & solutions
OPC-UA server in cronetwork promotes open communication
An important foundation for successful introduction of Industry 4.0 (the smart factory) and simultaneously a core challenge is vendor-independent data exchange via uniform interfaces in production.
Here Thomas Krainz explains the decision for the OPC-UA server and what users can expect from it. As member of the management team, he heads strategic product management. As cofounder of Industrie Informatik GmbH, he has been onboard from the start and has been responsible for the further development and innovative orientation of cronetwork MES.
Mr. Krainz, what was the original motivation leading to the development of the OPC-UA server for cronetwork MES?
Thomas Krainz: On the one hand, standardization is one of the great challenges for production enterprises in the implementation of Industry 4.0 measures. While standards have meanwhile been established on higher IT and production levels, our production halls continue to be manifested by isolated solutions and custom developments. Adhering to communication standards further advances digitization of production processes and enormously simplifies interaction between systems.
Further, it was our goal to resolve unidirectional machine communication and to create new possibilities via a bi-directional solution toward the smart, digital factory.
OPC technology per se is nothing new for Industrie Informatik. What have been the application domains so far?
Thomas Krainz: That’s right. We are sold on open communication and the integration possibilities that standard communication affords. The well-known OPC-DA specification became a component of the cronetwork MDC server over a decade ago. Later we enhanced our product range with an OPC-UA client, which has since provided reliable service in the collection of production and machine data, although its limits were also in this area. Thus previously only unidirectional data transfer from machines to IT was possible. Also, we wanted to create a new solution that can process the whole spectrum of data and information, not only production data.
What new features and changes does the OPC-UA server bring?
Thomas Krainz: The OPC-UA server, which Release 19 provides to all cronetwork users, opens completely new possibilities for our customers – and not only in machine communication. All information and data from cronetwork can now be forwarded in event and context relations to various recipients along the complete value-added chain. Via the proven underlying technologies of cronetwork, this providing of data is freely configurable without programming effort. Just a few clicks allow a user to provide his information via the OPC-UA server for further utilization and processing. All this occurs with adherence to the OPC communication standard.
What are typical use scenarios for the server?
Thomas Krainz: One possible application case results from the broad data base and the bidirectional communication options: Process data from an operation are collected, combined with other information, processed anew, and provided to the machine of the next operation via OPC-UA server. The machine setup there are oriented to the previously collected data. This enables correction of small deviations. Production quality rises to a new level.
We could describe many other, similar use scenarios. But to come to the bottom line: the OPC-UA server enables us to forward ALL our MES data to various recipients, both internal and third parties! This makes the data hub MES a living reality in production.