November 25, 2013 - McLean, Va. … The MTConnect Institute and the OPC Foundation announce the availability of the MTConnect-OPC UA (Unified Architecture) Companion specification release candidate (RC). “The MTConnect-OPC UA companion specification has been developed to ensure a uniform information model that can be utilized via the MTConnect standard and the OPC UA standard,” said Paul Warndorf, Secretary of the MTConnect Institute and Vice President of Manufacturing Technology at AMT–The Association For Manufacturing Technology. “This information model can be used by manufacturing technology equipment, devices, software or other products that implement our standards.”
MTConnect is an open, royalty-free communications standard intended to foster greater interoperability between manufacturing equipment, devices, and software applications thereby harnessing a wealth of information and data available from the shop floor. The OPC UA standard provides secure, reliable, high-speed communications. It is the result of the collaboration of the leading worldwide automation suppliers. The OPC UA specification defines a standard set of interfaces, methods, and an extensible set of objects for use in process control and manufacturing automation applications to facilitate interoperability. “The MTConnect-OPC UA companion standard will allow the extensive existing information model provided by MTConnect to be leveraged by existing OPC UA Systems at the enterprise level,” said Tom Burke, OPC Foundation President and Executive Director. OPC UA is a standard that is built on the result of the collaboration of a number of leading worldwide automation suppliers.
In September 2010, the MTConnect Institute and the OPC Foundation signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to work together to provide a mechanism for OPC and MTConnect to collaborate to extend the reach of the existing manufacturing data exchange standards and implementation technologies. In doing so, the two organizations agreed to work together to:
- Evolve the existing standards for each organization to provide complete manufacturing technology interoperability.
- Provide the mechanism for continuous improvement of standards and specifications overseen by each body.
- Work directly with the end users and suppliers of technology and manufacturing.
- Provide a coordinating function to exchange insights, identify overlaps, and harmonize work where appropriate.
- Facilitate clear communication and education for users and others concerning possible overlaps and the ways the standards and specifications can be used.
- Provide a solid foundation to develop and deliver specifications, technology and processes to facilitate adoption of the technology into real products.
In the interest of wide and rapid adoption by vendors of equipment and software, the MTConnect-OPC UA Companion specification is designed with the following goals in mind: incremental adoption, evolution, customizability, and non-proprietary in nature. The technical barrier to MTConnect-OPC UA enablement will be greatly reduced with this companion specification. “The MTConnect-OPC UA Companion specification provides a uniform information model that can be shared by both standards,” said Paul Hunkar, President of DSInteroperability, a key developer of the companion specification. “The information model can incrementally evolve without jeopardizing backward compatibility of previous MTConnect-OPC UA versions. It is customizable and extensible.” MTConnect-OPC UA’s extensibility makes it easy to create value-added software and tools that are equipment-specific or installation-specific, without jeopardizing compatibility with other equipment or software. “The specification includes descriptions of use cases demonstrating the added benefits of providing the companion standard,” added Hilena Hailu, Manufacturing Technology Project Manager for AMT–The Association for Manufacturing Technology, overseer of the effort.
Lastly, the specification is built on open standards, backed by both the MTConnect Institute and the OPC Foundation, which represent hundreds of companies, individuals, government organizations and non-profits, all working toward the goal of increased productivity in manufacturing. The MTConnect-OPC UA Companion specification is based on and fully compatible with MTConnect v1.2 and OPC UA version 1.02.
The MTConnect-OPC UA Companion Specification RC is available for download from MTConnect Institute’s Companion Specifications page. It provides details about how to harness the MTConnect and OPC UA specifications, allowing software developers to implement MTConnect and OPC UA to enable greater interoperability.
The MTConnect Institute
The MTConnect Institute is a not-for-profit 501(c)(6) organization established to further the development of the MTConnect standard and publish related materials. The organization includes Board of Directors, Technical Advisory Group (TAG), Technical Steering Committee, as well as various working groups to further the standard in specific technology areas. Any company or organization can be a member and aid in furthering the development of the MTConnect standard by becoming a member of the TAG. Membership is free, and it requires agreement to the MTConnect Intellectual Property Policy, which can be found on the MTConnect website’s “Institute” section. The MTConnect Institute is sponsored by AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology.
The OPC Foundation
Since 1996, the OPC Foundation has facilitated the development and adoption of the OPC information exchange standards. As both advocate and custodian of these specifications, the Foundation’s mission is to help industry vendors, end-users, and software developers maintain interoperability in their manufacturing and automation assets. The organization serves over 450 members worldwide in the Industrial Automation, Building Automation, Oil & Gas, and Smart Energy sectors.