On June 19, the OPC Unified Architecture (UA) machine vision and robotics working groups released the first versions of their companion specifications for machine vision systems integration and data related to industrial robots.
The VDMA OPC Vision Initiative was formed by the VDMA and OPC Foundation with an eye toward interoperability for machine vision and robotics.
"Interoperability is the key for distinguishing our products in a connected world of Industry 4.0. OPC UA is the designated standard to make machines talk the same language in the smart factory of the future. With today’s release of the companion specifications, we have reached a major milestone on this way," Dr. Horst Heinol-Heikkinen, Chairman of the VDMA OPC Vision Initiative said.
The OPC UA Companion Specification for Robotics (OPC UA Robotics, for short), provides a standardized information model that is capable of presenting all robot-related data, regardless of manufacturer or location. Part 1, which was released on June 19 as a draft, permits asset management, condition monitoring, preventive maintenance and vertical integration at anytime, anywhere in the world, and independent of the robot brand or type.
The OPC UA Companion Specification for Machine Vision (OPC UA Vision, for short), provides a generic model for all machine vision systems, from vision sensors to complete inspection systems. Part 1, which was released as a release candidate version, defines the essence of a machine vision system and describes the infrastructure layer which is an abstraction of the generic machine vision system. It also allows the control of a machine vision system in a generalized way and handles the management of recipes, configurations and results in a standardized way, whereas the contents stay vendor-specific and are treated as black boxes, according to the VDMA OPC Vision Initiative.
In addition to the two new companion specifications, a demonstrator for skill-based control with OPC UA was presented for the first time at automatica. This demonstrator was an assembly cell producing fidget spinners and integrating systems and components from more than 20 manufacturers "speaking one language,” which was "OPC UA,” according to the group.
VDMA is co-founder of the pre-competitive and non-profit association Labs Network Industry 4.0 (LNI), which operates testbeds and use cases, focusing on small and medium-size enterprise (SME) requirements and standardization validation. The University of Applied Sciences Ravensburg-Weingarten, Germany, plans to host in their lab the first OPC UA Companion Specification testbed—which is now open to new partners—together with industry partners.
"The practical validation by users, including SMEs, is a key to success for the international standardization activities to follow," said Dr. Christian Mosch, VDMA Forum Industry 4.0.
The OPC UA Vision companion specification is now available free of charge as VDMA Specification number 40100 (as release candidate version), and the OPC UA Robotics companion specification is now available free of charge as VDMA Specification number 40010 (as draft version). Both specifications can be requested at email@example.com.
View more information on the VDMA OPC Vision Initiative.