This blog is dedicated to open, interoperable manufacturing software and the coolest, latest and greatest things I see every day while conducting business under the banner of Inductive Automation.

Hello, my name is Steve Hechtman and I am president of Inductive Automation. During the span of one day there is more excitement, more discovery than I can possibly keep to myself. This blog is, therefore, my outlet. WARNING: This site is highly biased in favor of the most powerful, affordable manufacturing software in the world - Ignition by Inductive Automation!

Controller with integrated OPC-UA

I said I hoped I was wrong about PLC vendors not supporting integrated OPC-UA. That was in my last post and as it turns out, to some extent I was wrong, which is good.  Matthias Damm pointed out that at least three PLC vendors are shipping with integrated OPC-UA interfaces, including Beckoff, Bosch Rexroth and B&R.

I did a little searching on Beckhoff, Bosch Rexroth and B&R to find out more about these controllers and found the Beckoff CX8091 controller right away but came away empty handed for the latter two.  I'm hoping someone can help point me in the right direction on those two.

According to their website the Beckhoff controller is estimated for market release in the 2nd quarter of 2013.  It is programmed using IEC 61131-3 languages and most importantly supports online programming changes.  As you can see, they have the OPC-UA logo in the lower middle of their product.

Another poster pointed out that SAP and iTAC (who is iTAC anyway?) have already implemented OPC-UA.  As I pointed out in my last post, it's not the software companies that are the problem.   Most pure software companies have already adopted.  It's the hardware companies that are lagging.

Kudos to the software companies who are now on-board, and kudos to Beckhoff for their new controller, but as I search the web for other hardware, particularly PLCs, with integrated OPC-UA, it is kind of spooky how empty the space is.  So if Bosch Rexroth and B&R have it then why can't I find it with a web search?  Are they just not promoting it?  Someone please shed some light on this.

In my last post I pointed out three firms that provide SDKs for embedded OPC-UA.  Matthias points out another provider is Unified Automation which provides a full range of OPC-UA SDKs and development tools for ANSI C, C++, Java and .NET.

All the tools are there, all that's missing is the motivation.


Unknown said...

It's been slow in coming (I saw a prototype at Automation Fair 2012) but Rockwell Automation finally has an OPC-UA module that goes directly into the chassis of the flagship ControlLogix platform.

Where this fits relative to Ignition, I don't know. With a native driver for ControlLogix already in the free OPC-UA server, the only practical purpose for such a hardware module would be if it provided robust store-and-forward or buffering features for systems with mission-critical data needs and unreliable networks.

Steve said...

That's a start. But the website doesn't list any price. That always makes me think it's going to be outrageous.

Anonymous said...

Things have come a long way now and OPC UA is gaining traction especially due to cyber security concerns.
Siemens and Rockwell both are embedding OPC UA servers in their newest offerings. The Siemens 1200 is a good example.
One of the major unresolved issues though is that store and forward is practically non-existent. In a world where we are staging to send data to a central cloud based historian we know that we will have connection problems. The assumption of only handling real-time data was a big miss.
OPC UA servers should have a configurable store and forward mechanism especially since all data is time stamped. The Wonderware Historians as well as Rockwell's PI can capture and store so-called late data without issue on the client side.
Oh well; we're far better off than we were.