“I am an industrial robot and I have six axes.” One language that machines in production shops use to describe themselves and to communicate with one another is called OPC UA. It stands for Open Platform Communications (OPC) Unified Architecture (UA). Rather a mouthful for something that is very useful. After all, the fact that machines in production shops are able to communicate with one another and exchange data forms the basis for the Industrial Internet of Things.
According to the German Engineering Association (VDMA), OPC UA is the designated standard for the communications technology and language of machines. It makes it possible for any quantity of data to be made available and exchanged uniformly. The task of OPC UA? The standard defines how these data are translated into a machine-readable form – reliably and irrespective of the manufacturer.
The „USB of Industry“?
For industrial data exchange in real time, OPC UA is expanded to include the standard TSN. Time-Sensitive Networking is another relevant technology. The main features: TSN enables time synchronization down to the microsecond and the simultaneous transmission of multiple protocols while reserving transmission channels for messages that have to be transmitted in real time.
The forecast: OPC UA TSN will become the industry equivalent of USB. The standard will be used wherever sensors, actuators and controllers from different manufacturers form a shared network. In exactly those situations where a large number of machines and components have to talk to one another. In short: OPC UA TSN enables machine and system builders to implement the digital transfor-mation of their production facilities.
Did you know? Language of machines
IIoT: Industrial Internet of Things
OPC: Open Platform Communications
UA: Unified Architecture
TSN: Time-Sensitive Networking