Initiatives like Industry 4.0, Smart Factories, industrial Internet of Things, and others, have communication as key element. This means that efficiency in combining intelligent systems, sensors, and actuators becomes more and more important.
Communication in industrial control is not new. The famous CIM triangle is around 30 years old and today there are 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.
However the world of industrial automation is changing. We want to provide more and more functionalities and to do so we want to connect more and more devices. And these devices become intelligent, or even part of an intelligent system themselves. And the aspect of security is top level priority with all communications. With this trend we need new solutions to make the programming, installation, maintenance and updates easier.
The organizations PLCopen and OPC Foundation have joined forces to make this happen, and provide solutions based on the OPC UA technology for all levels of automation.
Using the OPC UA communication as standard for the industrial environment will lead in many sectors of the industries to a completely new form of information exchange: if an industry sector has defined a specific profile e.g. a data structure or a function block, then the question of secure and efficient data exchange as well as 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 and industrial control.
No matter what new initiatives like Industry 4.0, Smart Factories, industrial IoT or other will demand, the current solutions can fulfill already most demands, and with the extensions even the most demanding requirements will be able to be fulfilled with standard specifications, tools, and implementations. Communication has never been so easy as long as one is on the right track: PLCopen and OPC UA.
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Overview of the results
The combined technologies of PLCopen and OPC on the relation between programming languages and communication resulted in 2 specifications:
- PLCopen OPC UA Information Model for IEC 61131-3, version 1.02
- PLCopen OPC UA Client Function Blocks for IEC 61131-3, version 1.02 (Read more)