OPC: The next generation

Open connectivity through open standards began as a way for suppliers to achieve interoperability from factory floor devices to first-tier visualization applications. This is part of a Control Engineering December cover story.

12/07/2010


Open connectivity through open standards, known today as OPC, began in 1995 as a way for suppliers to achieve interoperability from factory floor devices to first-tier visualization applications. Based on Microsoft technology, OPC was a vendor-driven initiative.

“Vendors were tired of developing software to communicate to hardware on the factory floor and having to maintain all the corresponding device drivers,” explained OPC Foundation’s Tom Burke. “The situation aligned with the concept of a printer: printer companies provided corresponding software to allow applications to connect and print documents to the desired printer. In the OPC world, we created a cottage industry in which software companies began to develop software that performed better than that created by the hardware vendors for their respective devices.”

This model continues with OPC Unified Architecture (OPC-UA). “OPCUA,” Burke went on, “separates the data from the services in such a way that the data, and the corresponding metadata behind the data, can now be generically discovered by applications connecting up to devices or other applications, providing timeless durability for systems built today and tomorrow.”

End-user demands for security and reliability continue to drive competitive vendors to work together to develop industry standards such as OPC-UA. Consortiums are also working with the OPC Foundation to develop companion specifications that will plug into OPC-UA for their respective information models. “OPC provides the infrastructure necessary for discovering, querying, subscribing, reading, and writing information of the various consortium modeling activities,” said Burke. “Their suppliers can develop complex applications simply, without needing intimate knowledge of the information models that exist today…or will exist tomorrow.”

A simple example of this concept is the USB (universal serial bus), which has helped shape the consumer electronics world. “Plug a device in to a laptop that supports USB,” Burke explained, “and suddenly you are able to do everything with that device. Industrial automation systems of tomorrow will support the same plug-and-play operation. Applications will be able to discover the devices that are being plugged in and configure, diagnose, and retrieve data from them.”

www.opcfoundation.org

- Jeanine Katzel for Control Engineering, as part of the December 2010 Cover story: Integrating Disparate Control Systems.



No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
World-class maintenance: The three keys to success - Deploy people, process and technology; 2016 Lubrication Guide; Why hydraulic systems get hot
Your leaks start here: Take a disciplined approach with your hydraulic system; U.S. presence at Hannover Messe a rousing success
Hannover Messe 2016: Taking hold of the future - Partner Country status spotlights U.S. manufacturing; Honoring manufacturing excellence: The 2015 Product of the Year Winners
The digital oilfield: Utilizing Big Data can yield big savings; Virtualization a real solution; Tracking SIS performance
Getting to the bottom of subsea repairs: Older pipelines need more attention, and operators need a repair strategy; OTC preview; Offshore production difficult - and crucial
Digital oilfields: Integrated HMI/SCADA systems enable smarter data acquisition; Real-world impact of simulation; Electric actuator technology prospers in production fields
Improving flowmeter calibration; Selecting flowmeters for natural gas; Case study: Streamlining assembly systems using PC-based control; CLPM: Improving process efficiency, throughput
Putting COPS into context; Designing medium-voltage electrical systems; Planning and designing resilient, efficient data centers; The nine steps of designing generator fuel systems
Warehouse winter comfort: The HTHV solution; Cooling with natural gas; Plastics industry booming

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role that compressed air plays in manufacturing plants.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
This article collection contains several articles on strategic maintenance and understanding all the parts of your plant.
click me