Yes, OPC UA at Hannover. Even though (or because of) I’ve been to two subsequent conferences, I’m still catching up on Hannover news. 

The growth in popularity of OPC UA led to increased interest among members for space at the OPC Foundation booth. For the last few years it had roughly six sponsors with a partner pod. OPC Foundation found itself extending the booth this year to provide enough space for ten companies and organizations. These included AutomationML, BitCtrl, C-Labs, Kepware, MatrikonOPC, ProSys OPC, Softing, Siemens, Takebishi, and Unified Automation.

Not only did Microsoft include a large display wall featuring OPC UA in its booth, SAP also showed integration of information into the SAP cloud for analysis and action for both discrete and process automation featuring OPC UA at a large wall featured prominently in its booth.

German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) Announced Completion of In-depth Security Analysis of OPC UA

My inbox has been overflowing with responses to the recent security hack on the Internet. This just highlights the issue of cyber security. Anyone in the business of communication over a network must provide as much security assurance as possible.

The OPC Foundation has worked with many security validation companies and organizations to provide the highest level of security. One of the most significant of those organizations is the BSI. Due to the relevance of OPC UA to Industrie 4.0 and Germany Industry, the BSI performed an in-depth security analysis of the OPC UA specifications and a selected reference implementation. A video describing their recommendation and analysis is available on the OPC YouTube Channel.

The BSI has published the results of the OPC UA security analysis on its web site, and the OPC Foundation also published a commented version on the OPC web site in both German and English: BSI web site and OPC web site.

Companion Specs

Companion specifications with other organizations is an excellent way to spread the utility of OPC UA. OPC Foundation President Tom Burke updated the press on the status of many companion specs now in process.

• OPC UA & AutomationML—released
• PLCOpen OPC UA Client for IEC61131—released
• OPC UA for Sercos—released
• M2M—started
• MDIS ( Oil&Gas )—First interoperability workshop for companion spec
• PackML—Release candidate
• Dexpi—MoU started; chair is Nikolaos Papakonstantinou VTT Finland
• VDMA Injection molding machine—Release Candidate
• VDMA Machine Vision—Started
• VDMA Machine Robotic—under preparation
• (Also) MIMOSA CCOM & OPC UA—under preparation

VDMA also presented at the press conference. This German machine builders association represents 3200 companies. It’s goals include the integration of components, machines, and plants. It further seeks cross-company interoperability in the factory.

It cited the need of replacing manuals and data sheets by information models as it seeks standardized information about components and machines from different manufacturers.

It prefers OPC UA because:
• It’s an open standard
• Manufacturer independent
• Not a rigid connection, but offers flexible integration by semantic service description
• Plug & Work
• Can be used for condition monitoring and predictive maintenance
• Offers optimization of production

OPC Foundation Members’ News at Hannover Messe

Softing Industrial offers commercial license for OPC UA .NET Standard Stack

Softing Industrial announced a commercial license for the OPC UA .NET Standard Stack. The OPC UA .NET Standard Stack has been developed by Microsoft, and was contributed as open source project to the OPC Foundation GitHub in June 2016.

The OPC UA .NET Standard Stack targets the .NET Standard Library. .Net Standard allows developing apps that run on all common platforms available today, without requiring platform-specific modifications. Furthermore, cloud applications and services are also supported.

Softing Industrial plans to offer a commercial license for the OPC UA .NET Standard Stack in the fourth quarter 2017, making it available for full commercial use to everyone. Preparatory work and technical coordination with the OPC Foundation as well as Microsoft have already begun. Softing support for the currently available Softing OPC UA .NET Toolkits will not be affected and continue to be available.

OPC UA Meets IoT

Unified Automation integrates OPC UA data sources into IoT solutions without programming

The growing number of devices and machines with OPC Unified Architecture (UA) interfaces, as well as the large installed base of “classic” OPC products, can now easily be integrated into cloud and IoT platforms, like Azure IoT Suite. Unified Automation’s UaGateway offers an easy configure-only solution, without changes on installed systems and without time-consuming programming.

Being already a well-established solution for integrating different OPC interfaces into a single common database and “translating” between different OPC standards, UaGateway has now been extended with the IoT protocols Advanced Message Queuing Protocol (AMQP) and Message Queue Telemetry Transport (MQTT). This allows the publication of any OPC data into cloud and IoT platforms simply by configuration.

“UaGateway now closes the gap between the large installed base of OPC devices and new upcoming products with fully integrated IoT protocols”, said Jürgen Boxberger, CEO of Unified Automation GmbH “The UaGateway provides industrial grade communication infrastructure for multi-vendor Edge Cloud and Analytics applications.”

The UaGateway can be installed on a variety of different hardware platforms ranging from small embedded rail mount device running embedded Linux or headless device running e.g. Windows 10 IoT Core. Installed on a large scale device the UaGateway provides the communication data hub for industrial Edge Cloud solutions and analytics applications. Fully based on OPC UA technology the UaGateway enables secured and authenticated access to plant floor data giving you full control over your data down to each individual data point. Furthermore, the UaGateway will integrate with Microsoft’s Azure IoT Suite Connected factory preconfigured solution.

Comtrol Implements OPC-UA connectivity with MultiLink on IO-Link Master family

Comtrol Corp., a manufacturer of industrial device connectivity products and the official North American IO-Link Competency Center, announced the availability of OPC-UA support with its MultiLink technology on its IO-Link Master family of products.

OPC Unified Architecture (OPC-UA) is a machine to machine communication protocol developed for industrial automation. OPC-UA allows customers to communicate with industrial equipment and systems for data connection and control, freely use an open standard, cross-platform, implement service-oriented architecture (SOA) software and utilize robust security.

Comtrol’s MultiLink technology allows IO-Link Masters to simultaneously provide sensors Process data to PLC platforms, while also sending the sensors ISDU Service and Process data via Modbus TCP or OPC-UA upstream to IIoT/Industry 4.0 Cloud solutions or factory SCADA systems. Comtrol’s IO-Link Masters are available in three industrial Ethernet protocols: EtherNet/IP, Modbus TCP and PROFINET IO, which are all capable of running OPC UA with MultiLink.

C-Labs Releases Fourth Generation IoT Technology

C-Labs Corp., a provider of software for the industrial Internet of Things (IoT), announced availability of the fourth generation of its C-DEngine core software. The patent-pending software provides embedded IoT capabilities for machine makers such as TRUMPF, machine connectivity for application providers such as AXOOM, and industrial IoT cloud connectivity for Microsoft Azure IoT Hub and other cloud services. C-DEngine is also the core technology in C-Labs’ own Factory-Relay and Machine Monitor products for manufacturers.

According to a PwC survey, 65% of US manufacturers are not yet collecting or using IoT data to enhance their operations, despite availability of the technology. In C-Labs’ experience, this is also true among equipment makers and business application providers who need to securely collect and use data from locations where industrial equipment is installed and used on a daily basis. Concerns about cybersecurity and a lack of IT familiarity with industrial IoT requirements are the top challenges to the success of industrial IoT deployments. C-Labs software products provide live access to industrial equipment and IoT data without compromising or side-stepping enterprise IT security, providing complementary benefits to machine makers, machine owners, and service providers.

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