OPC Unified Architecture (OPC-UA) is an industrial machine-to-machine communication protocol for interoperability. It is the data exchange standard for safe, reliable, manufacturer and platform-independent industrial communication. Driven by the requirements of Industry 4.0 and the industrial IoT, many agree that OPC-UA is at the core of future industrial communication requirements, enabling the adoption of smart manufacturing.
The OPC-UA standard opens up Industry 4.0 connectivity and its potential advantages such as increased productivity, higher flexibility and more efficient operations. Festo will be integrating the OPC-UA technology into many more of its electrical controls in the coming years.
“As we move towards Industry 4.0, communication and engineering standards are absolutely critical. The vision of IoT can only be realised if the communication of the central components is based on a common standard that can fulfil its complex requirements,” says Steve Sands, product manager at Festo. “As OPC-UA is platform and operating system independent, it can provide an open communication solution from the front-end devices, sensors and actuators, or controllers right up to the cloud.”
All Festo’s valve terminals with CPX remote I/O can be extended to include an integrated CODESYS controller. This means that OPC-UA is an available option for Industry 4.0 host environments in all factory automation and process automation applications. OPC-UA is available with the CPX terminal, valve terminals CPX/MPA and CPX/VTSA (OPC UA server), compact controller CECC (OPC UA server) and display and operating unit CDPX (OPC UA client). Festo can also provide mechatronic subsystems as complete customer solutions incorporating OPC-UA.
OPC-UA is bringing industry much closer to true ‘plug and play’ functionality with seamless integration between components that can then talk to each other, so more data can be gathered and exchanged easily. Festo is confident that this standard is the way forward and has installed the principles at its new €70 million highly optimised and automated state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in Scharnhausen, Germany.
“OPC-UA is a key standard and in the same way that Industry 4.0 is based on evolution not revolution, we expect to see OPC-UA grow and develop and will be embedding it in many of our products in the future,” concludes Steve.
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