OPC Foundation, OMAC Develop IIoT Building Blocks

PackML and OPC UA offer an industry-standard approach to data connectivity between machines, as well as MES, ERP, and SCADA systems.

The combination of OPC UA with PackML is moving toward completion, the result of a strategic cooperation between OMAC (Organization for Machine Automation & Control), the OPC Foundation, and PLCopen. As open communications standards proliferate, and the IIoT drives the need to flatten network communication architectures, technology organizations are actively engaged to do just that in automation applications.

Using TR88-00.02 (PackML) provides the advantage of a standard state-based template for defining a machine’s status and behavior, making it easier for system integrators to integrate machines in a line. Combining TR88-00.02 (PackML) with OPC UA provides an industry-standard approach to sharing data securely, and making that data seamlessly available to other machines, as well as MES, ERP, and SCADA systems.

OPC UA, PackML, OPC Foundation, SCADA, OMAC, PLCopen

PackML is also finding broader application in a variety of manufacturing industries by providing a method for defining machine modes, states, and tag naming conventions. (Source: B&R Industrial Automation)

“A standard method for modeling and sharing data, used consistently across the industry, is vital for the implementation of automation standards such as TR88.00.02-2015 (PackML) that will feed data into the IIoT. A companion specification between TR88 and OPC UA will fill this need,” said Dr. Bryan Griffen, OMAC chair and group engineering manager at Nestlé USA.

Completion of Companion Specification

“We hope to have a final release of the companion specification for this collaboration first quarter 2017,” Thomas Burke, OPC president and executive director told Design News . “One of the most exciting things about announcing this working group was the volume of companies that quickly engaged to participate in this working group (over 50 companies) and initiative driven by end users Nestlé and Arla Foods.”

This cooperation is part of a larger initiative that saw OMAC, the OPC Foundation, and PLCopen exhibit together for the first time at PACK EXPO 2016. PLCopen worked with OPC to define a set of IEC 61131-3-compliant Function Blocks providing OPC UA client functionality and mapping the IEC 61131-3 software model to the OPC UA information model. The latest version was released in 2016. 

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Since most automation controllers support the IEC languages, it makes sense for the three organizations to get together and avoid redundant developments. OMAC has for many years recognized IEC 61131-3 as the preferred programming language standard in its Packaging Guidelines document. At the same time, it’s clear that standards are needed to support communications from the plant floor up to the interface standards that will be established for big data analytics as well as those de facto interfaces that are in place today. 

OMAC, the OPC Foundation, and PLCopen are well-positioned to serve in this capacity, working alongside organizations like the Industrial Internet Consortium, which recently launched a Smart Factory Task Group. Common traits among these organizations are consistent adherence to international

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