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Industrie 4.0

OPC UA and TSN conquer the intelligent factory

Efforts to achieve a unified data exchange standard for industrial communication have been surprisingly successful. OPC UA is clearly in the lead as a manufacturer and platform independent protocol.

08 Dec. 2017
Claudia Witte
OPC UA and TSN conquer the intelligent factory (graphic: OPC)

Networked production requires consistent protocols and real-time communication standards. The industrial M2M communication protocol OPC UA, which has now been supplemented with pub/sub, in conjunction with time-sensitive networking (TSN), IEEE 802.3 real-time extension, has the best opportunity to position itself in this context.

OPC UA (unified architecture) transmits not only data but also information and has thus become the dominant standard for the communication and information layers of all major smart manufacturing architectures worldwide. Its strength is the address space that can be used to map existing user interfaces ("profiles") of the industrial Ethernet protocols. The OPC Foundation put an updated version of the UA compliance test tool (UACTT) online in November.

In order to make OPC UA real-time capable, it will be extended by a pub/sub mechanism ( publisher/subscriber ) and will probably work with time-sensitive networking in the future. As many manufacturers are expected to supply TSN-capable hardware in the future, this development is also seen as the "democratization of real-time communication": TSN would give almost every protocol real-time properties.