PLCopen and OPC Foundation join standards | Automation.com

PLCopen and OPC Foundation join standards

December 7, 2009 - PLCopen and OPC Foundation combined their technologies to a platform and manufacturer-independent information and communication architecture. This mix of OPC Unified Architecture (UA) and IEC 61131-3 creates interesting options for the realization of automation structures.

The first step for the joined working group was the mapping of the IEC 61131-3 software model to the OPC UA information model leading to a standard way how OPC UA server-based controllers expose data structures and function blocks to OPC UA clients like HMIs.

This first step was achieved in a very short time followed by first implementations demonstrated at the SPS/IPC/Drives show 2009 in Nuremberg. Now the technical specification “OPC UA Information Model for IEC 61131-3” version 0.09.1 is published as Release for Comments till February 19, 2010. This evaluation phase will be followed by the final release expected for April 2010.

Objective is to increase the reusability of controllers and visualization modules and their communication - in the long run the efficiency of the engineering process clearly increases.

As an example imagine a PLC project running on different control platforms from different suppliers which seen from the outside by a visualization tool or MES/ERP from the axis look exactly the same: The IEC 61131-3 software model with all PLC objects and their detailed descriptions are illustrated in the OPC UA namespace by the work of the common working group by OPC UA.

Today there are still many old historically grown data exchange protocols being used in various industries. They offer little possibility to transport complex data and the extensibility is very limited. OPC Unified Architecture however, offers the basis for universal, secure and reliable network communication, i.e. provides the monitoring of configurable timeouts and connecting interruptions and encrypted communication. To use this communication as standard for the IEC 61131 environment will lead in many industries to a completely new form of information exchange: If an industry has defined a specific profile e.g. a data structure or a function block, then the question of secured and efficient data exchange and the reusability of the visualization objects is already solved. With the combination of PLCopen and OPC UA, an additional level of interoperability is standardized on top of IEC61131-3.

About OPC Foundation
The OPC Foundation defines standards for online data exchange between automation systems. They address access to current data (OPC DA), alarms and events (OPC A&E) and historical data (OPC HDA). Those standards are successfully applied in industrial automation.

The new OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA) unifies the existing standards and brings them to state-of-the-art technology using service-oriented architecture (SOA). Platform-independent technology allows the deployment of OPC UA beyond current OPC applications only running on Windows-based PC systems. OPC UA can also run on embedded systems as well as Linux / UNIX based enterprise systems. The provided information can be generically modelled and therefore arbitrary information models can be provided using OPC UA.

About PLCopen
PLCopen was founded in 1992 as an independent worldwide association for industrial suppliers and users. It is the leading association resolving topics related to industrial control programming. PLCopen creates concepts to reduce the costs of industrial automation. These cost savings are realized in areas such as engineering, training, operation and maintenance. Together with its members, PLCopen creates specifications to materialize these concepts.

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