OPC UA - Overview

OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA) is the data exchange standard for safe, reliable, manufacturer- and platform-independent industrial communication. It enables data exchange between products from different manufacturers and across operating systems. ... With the introduction of Service-Oriented-Architecture (SOA) in industrial automation systems in 2007, OPC UA started to offer a scalable, platformindependent solution which combines the benefits of web services and integrated security with a consistent data model. (Thomas J. Burke, President und Executive Director OPC Foundation).

OPC UA is a key element of Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things (IoT). It enables horizontal and vertical integration across various levels of the automation pyramid, from the sensor to the ERP system.

OPC UA forms the basis for M2M and M2H communication (machine to machine and machine to human) thanks to common industrial interoperability standards. With the exception of time-critical data exchange, OPC UA has the potential to replace the existing wealth of industrial Ethernet protocols by a direct connection between field devices and applications.

Advantages of OPC UA

  • Independence of the communication technology from manufacturers, industries, operating systems, programming languages. Supported by all PLC system manufacturers.
  • Scalability for full interconnection, from the smallest sensor via embedded devices and PLC controls to PCs, smartphones, mainframe computers and cloud applications.
  • Security of transmission and authentication at user and application level.
  • Standardized, flexible, transparent and efficient data transmission using established standards (SOA via TCP/IP) with optimized binary protocol or with HTTP/HTTPS web services. Visualization support from various suppliers.
  • Information model of actual products and their production steps thanks to fully interconnected object-oriented concept for name space and metadata.
  • Compliance testing thanks to IEC 62541 standard, tools and test labs.

TM OPC UA = Trade Mark of OPC Foundation
ERP = Enterprise Ressource Planning
MES = Manufacturing Execution Systems
SCADA = Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition
PLC = Programmable Logic Controller
SOA = Service-oriented architecture