Powering Industry 4.0 & Industrial IoT

  • March 22, 2016
  • Feature

Insights from the OPC Foundation 2015 General Assembly Meeting

By Bill Lydon, Editor

The OPC Foundation held its Annual General Assembly Meeting on December 2, 2015. Tom Burke, OPC Foundation President, described the organization as a community for interoperability solutions based on OPC specifications to achieve universal connectivity. The OPC Foundation is committed to collaboration with a large number of organizations and this has resulted in significant growth. The OPC Foundation is building a powerful ecosystem that includes industrial automation and enterprise software companies, subject matter experts, and industry standards organizations.

The organization believes OPC UA is the enabling technology for the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0. OPC UA enables multivendor multiplatform secure reliable interoperability for moving data and information from the embedded world to the enterprise. OPC UA is built on an information model that provides structure and context to information at its source, which is critical to have responsive systems.

OPC UA is an international standard (IEC62541) that provides secure, reliable, multivendor, multiplatform, and multi-domain interoperability from sensor to enterprise. The organization has offices in Scottsdale Arizona, Verl Germany, China, and Tokyo. Worldwide membership is made up of 50% Europe, 28% North America, 9% China, 5% Japan, and 8% the rest of the world. The OPC Foundation held a number of interoperability workshops throughout the world in 2015 and this will continue in 2016.


The vendor members of the OPC Foundation recognize the need to make industry stronger through collaborative ecosystems. These vendors show a very mature understanding that they must serve customers in the best possible way with superior products rather than locking customers into their own vendor concentric ecosystem.

The OPC Foundation has a strong compliance and certification program to ensure products plug-and-play in real-world applications. OPC Interoperability Workshops are held throughout the world. The most recent edition is a virtual interoperability workshop hosted in the cloud to accelerate compliance.

Open Source

In 2015, the OPC Foundation made the OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA) specifications and technology available to companies, consortia, and end users without requiring membership in the OPC Foundation. The OPC Foundation is implementing an “open shared source” strategy to facilitate widespread adoption of the technology beyond industrial automation. This is becoming a common requirement in the computing world for standards to be adopted.

OPC Foundation Board of Directors

The most recent edition to the OPC Foundation Board of Directors is Veronika Schmid-Lutz, Chief Product Owner for Manufacturing at SAP. In this role, Schmid-Lutz is accountable for the manufacturing products of SAP. The members of the OPC Foundation Board of Directors includes:

  • Russ Agrusa, ICONICS
  • Thomas Burke, OPC Foundation
  • Matthias Damm, Ascolab
  • Thomas Hahn, Siemens
  • Stefan Hoppe, OPC Foundation & Beckhoff
  • Ziad Kaakani, Honeywell
  • Nobuaki Konishi, Yokogawa
  • Veronika Schmid-Lutz, SAP


The OPC Foundation ecosystem continues to expand through collaborations with industry organizations that possess deep subject matter experience and knowledge. This is a powerful model for these organizations to leverage their expertise and data models using the OPC UA common framework for open collaboration between disciplines in the connected enterprise.

OPC Foundation Collaborations

Highlighted below are some of the OPC Foundation industry collaborations and more information can be found at: https://opcFoundation.org/markets-collaboration/

FDI Cooperation

The FDT Group, FieldComm Group, PROFIBUS & PROFINET International and the OPC Foundation have developed a single common technology solution for Field Device Integration (FDI). FDI technology manages information from intelligent field devices during their entire lifecycle – from configuration, commissioning and diagnostics to calibration, making one-off solutions for different devices obsolete. The standardization of field device information facilitates the development of native OPC UA applications that support the FDI information model.

Building Automation Industry

BACnet International encourages the successful use of the BACnet standard in building automation and control networks. The joint working group of BACnet Interest Group in Europe together with OPC Foundation mapped building automation objects into the OPC UA information model. The efforts will facilitate the integration between industrial automation and building automation devices and applications.

Standards Leadership Council (SLC)

The SLC was formed in 2012 by nine standards organizations serving the oil and gas industry to avoid duplication in development projects through collaboration. Its goals are to assist member organizations in determining business value metrics for standards adoption and maintaining financial sustainability. The council includes Energistics, MIMOSA, Open Geospatial Consortium, OPC Foundation, PIDX International, Pipeline Open Data Standard, POSC Caesar Association, Professional Petroleum Data Management Association and the Society of Exploration Geophysicists. The Foundation’s engagement in this Council exposes OPC technology into other organizations with similarly complex information models, ultimately resulting in new collaborations and opportunities for market expansion.

Drilling System Automation Technical Section (DSATS)

DSATS, of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), recommends guidelines to allow open and secure communication between rig control systems, applicable surface and down-hole measurements and authorized third parties. Participating OPC suppliers and end-users are developing a comprehensive roadmap for Drilling Systems Automation that will incorporate best practices, lessons learned, standards and solutions. This roadmap or guideline will identify the objects and corresponding attribute/metadata that span all automation components within a drilling system. OPC UA is the communication protocol for connecting these devices and applications.

Energistics / Production Markup Language (PRODML)

Energistics is a global consortium that facilitates the development, management and adoption of data exchange standards for the upstream oil and gas industry. PRODML is a family of XML and web services-based standards from Energistics and its PRODML Special Interest Group (PRODML SIG). The OPC Foundation is collaborating with Energistics to develop an OPC UA companion specification that provides a mapping of the PRODML data and information models.

MCS-DCS Interface Standardization (MDIS)

MDIS is an international industry network group whose primary mission is to optimize the Master Control System (MCS) and Distributed Control System (DCS) interface of topside systems in oil and gas production. Its members consists of major oil producers and refiners, automation suppliers and DCS vendors. MDIS selected OPC UA as the protocol standard for MCS and DCS, and is currently developing the architecture and objects that will be mapped into the OPC UA Information model.

Industrie 4.0 & Industrial Internet of Things

The OPC Foundation new white paper, OPC Unified Architecture Interoperability for Industrie 4.0 and the Internet of Things, describes the vision and technology for open connected systems leveraging IT industry standards. In this document the importance of OPC UA technology is described by industry leaders including Microsoft, SAP, Hewlett-Packard, National Instruments, ABB, Yokogawa, GE, Rexroth, ThiessenKrupp, Beckhoff, Siemens, Schneider Electric, FESTO, Phoenix Contact, AIC, OMAC, PLCopen, AutomationML, AIM-D, BACnet Interest Group Europe, MDIS, German research Center for Artificial Intelligence, and Institute of Automation and Information Systems, Munich University of Technology (TUM). 

In a number of videos, members describe their commitment to OPC UA and detail information about the standard.

Industry 4.0 Reference Model

OPC UA is now included in the VDI/VDE industry 4.0 reference model as the one and only recommendation for the communication layer. 

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