The past two decades have been the decades of connectivity. With the mobile telecommunications and the rise of internet we have seen a huge change in the society around us. The world has never been more connected than now. Together with the connectivity we have seen the development of ecosystems and services.
This same transformation is now also happening in the industry. In industrial systems the wireless communication technologies are gaining ground and with increasing level of automation and advanced analytics the factories of the future are shaping up. In the centre of smart connected things is the need for interoperability. Traditionally the industrial communication chains have been layered and fragmented with different vendor specific protocols. With more and more complex systems this becomes a burden. Installation, deployment and successful operation of production assets and services requires a scalable and vendor independent communication system that has a future proof roadmap. Having a simple and scalable architecture simplifies the processes and clarifies responsibilities between different system operators. Integrating to 3rd party systems and service providers becomes easier as well. This leads to cost savings and boosts ecosystem thinking.
OPC UA, the Industry 4.0 preferred protocol
An answer to the requirements of industrial interoperability lies in the OPC UA standard, which is the only preferred way to implement communication layer according to The German Reference Architecture Model for Industry 4.0. OPC UA is an industrial communication standard that was designed to be vendor independent, scalable and secure. The scalability means that OPC UA can be deployed, not only to powerful server systems, but also to some of the smallest embedded devices. Security is in-built to the standard. Messages are signed and encrypted with modern encryption algorithms, application security is handled by certificate handshakes and user authorization is provided by design. Fault-tolerance and reliability is taken care by redundancy mechanisms.
In Wapice the need for OPC UA was predicted already year 2001, when we became the member of the OPC foundation first time. Since the beginning Wapice has focused on helping the industrial companies in digitalization. We have established a solid ground in understanding the problems that industrial companies are experiencing when modernizing their services. With this experience we can help our customers to focus on running their businesses and let us tackle the challenges in software engineering and digitalization.
How can Wapice help you?
During our 20-year journey with OPC UA we have delivered numerous OPC UA solutions to our customers, who operate for example in moving machinery, energy production, building automation and in marine technology. For our customers we offer software development and OPC UA customization using well known toolkits and components. Some of our designs have been implemented in embedded systems, like Linux operating system or similar. Some have been implemented in server machines. In our process we always do a feasibility study together with customer to investigate the needs and requirements. Once these are gathered and project scope agreed, we continue working in close co-operation with customer utilizing the modern software development processes like Kanban and Scrum.
Wapice’s products are another great example of our portfolio how to tackle the challenges of digitalization. IoT-TICKET® is Wapice’s award winning Industrial IoT platform, which provides everything that is needed for connecting to field devices, storing process data and visualizing and analyzing the data. Naturally, the platform supports, not only OPC UA, but most common industrial communication standards.
Wapice has invested and continues to yearly invest a significant amount of money into research of future digitalization technologies. In our research we are especially focusing on Artificial Intelligence, Industrial IoT and real-time communications. The latest OPC UA specification has several new additions that support these features. OPCUA Pub/Sub (publish-subscribe) is a recent addition to specification. In OPC UA Pub/Sub the publishers send messages to a broker that relays messages to the data consumers. This is needed, because client-server-based communication model does not work optimally, if we have a huge number of nodes communicating with each other. Another interesting addition is the support for TSN (Time Sensitive Networking), which adds a real-time capability to the communication. Recently OPC UA also informed of a future mapping between the OPC UA and 5G.
To summarize, OPC UA has already cemented its position as the number one protocol in Industry 4.0 applications. We at Wapice are closely following the evolution of the communication standard and investigating how our customers can best utilize it. With our experience we can help you whether you need a turnkey OPC UA solution to support your business, consultation & training or want to collaborate in research work.