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OPC UA – Open Platform Communications Unified Architecture

16 November 2020
Secure, Standardized Communication for Industrial Automation

Flexible, extensible and future-proof – OPC UA is quickly gaining importance as the communication standard for automation technology applications.

In more and more industrial networks, OPC UA is ensuring smooth, secure data exchange. The technology is manufacturer-independent, offers numerous security measures and, besides pure data transfer, also includes semantic annotation, which is indispensable for information modeling. The devices describe their structure and function themselves. Therefore, the communication not only transfers data, but also supplies meaning – ensuring a high degree of interoperability among the applications.

The Benefits for You:

  • Allows secure, reliable, manufacturer-independent data exchange
  • Includes semantic annotation
  • Ensures simple information modeling
  • WAGO offers an officially certified OPC UA server
  • Allows use of integrated security functions

Certified Server

WAGO offers OPC UA on its PFC Controllers and Control Panels with different server profiles: Nano, Micro or Embedded. Since WAGO’s OPC UA server is one of the few that is officially certified, it provides the best foundation for tailored, manufacturer-independent communication with OPC UA clients. The integrated security functions complete the total package.

Information Models for Standardized Data

So-called companion specifications were defined to cope with the demands of different industries with similar products or machines. These specifications primarily describe information models. For example, the WAGO OPC UA server provides its data in accordance with the PLCopen companion specifications by default. In future, it will be possible to modify the desired information model.

Interoperability, from the Sensor to the Cloud

OPC UA can be used for horizontal communication between machines and vertical communication between the machine and the cloud; even products and devices from different manufacturers can work together immediately. Client/server models play an important role, since they allow bidirectional communication with control access to the actuators. WAGO also offers this option: Its PFC Series Controllers and Control Panels include OPC UA with the various server profiles, which themselves are equipped with numerous security features. In the future, when the publish/subscribe mechanism is added, OPC UA will even allow multiple subscribers to receive data from one publisher simultaneously. OPC UA PubSub could quickly gain importance, since, especially at the interface to the field level, situations are to be expected where many different information recipients access one subscriber. WAGO’s technology demo is already being used to show how, in the future, various controllers will communicate in real time with OPC UA PubSub over TSN.


OPC UA Server Profiles for WAGO Controllers and Control Panels

WAGO offers OPC UA on its PFC Controllers and Control Panels with different server profiles: Nano, Micro or Embedded. Various security features are also integrated into the profiles. These include encrypted communication between server and client, authentication via username and password and certificate management. Thus WAGO makes communication with OPC UA possible that is both tailored and also especially secure.

OPC UA Mapping Editor

WAGO harnesses additional benefits of OPC UA communication. As it stands today, the WAGO server includes a fixed implementation of the information model per the PLCopen companion specification. The OPC UA Mapping Editor now makes it possible to flexibly adapt machine controllers to different information models for various specifications, for example. The OPC UA Mapping Editor allows you to modify the information model specifying how the WAGO server provides the data and to map the data onto any model. This makes OPC UA communication easy to implement for different applications and performance demands. It is also possible to make customer-specific adaptations as needed even if they don’t correspond to any particular specification. That allows customers to respond flexibly to the demands they face.

The Future with TSN

Deterministic real-time behavior is another important requirement in industrial automation. Especially in time-critical processes on the field level, it is necessary to indicate the maximum latency for the guaranteed conclusion of the communication. The combination of OPC UA and TSN provides this kind of real-time-capable communication. TSN can be used on all levels of an automation system, from the sensor to the cloud, making it possible to achieve continuous communication without gateways or discontinuities in the technology. WAGO is a pioneer in this technology, and its technology demo is already being used to show how in the future, various controllers will communicate in real time with OPC UA PubSub over TSN.


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