Global language of production

The VDMA and VDW are joining forces to promote the use and dissemination of OPC UA standards throughout the mechanical engineering sector under the ‘umati’ label.

“Cross-industry and cross-technology marketing will take our customers a significant step forward,” says Dr Wilfried Schäfer, executive director of the VDW (German Machine Tool Builders’ Association). “Manufacturing companies have not only machine tools but their own individual mix of equipment, robots and systems. If all these technologies can exist in a common ecosystem that is ideal for producing plug-and-play solutions, it will save end users a lot of time and money.”
Hartmut Rauen, deputy executive director of the VDMA (German Engineering Federation), adds: “Over 30 specialist groupings in more than 17 associations are working on technology-specific interfaces, known as the ‘Companion Specifications’. This high level of collaboration forms the basis of true, open interoperability between machines and software systems, from the shop floor to the cloud. Only the VDMA has the means to unite the necessary integrative forces from the wide range of production domains.”
The mechanical and plant engineering sector adopted OPC UA as the standard for data exchange from an early stage, largely because OPC UA provides a uniform framework for machine and system interoperability. Having adopted a bottom-up approach, it became clear how important it was to have uniform definitions for basic elements for a large part of the diverse range of products in mechanical and plant engineering. The simplest example is machine identification, including features such as manufacturer, serial number,
year of manufacture and machine type.
Here, various VDMA departments – such as Electrical Drive Engineering, Plastics and Rubber Machinery, Machine Vision, Metallurgy, Robotics and Machine Tools – are currently drawing up the ‘Basic Companion Specification OPC UA for Machinery’. The first version is scheduled for publication later this year.
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