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Plug and play milestones in mechanical and plant engineering

By 12.10.2020May 5th, 2021Press Release

• Pub­lic­a­tion of OPC UA for Machinery and OPC UA for Machine Tools
• umati com­munity test­ing func­tion­al­ity of both spe­cific­a­tions in umati demonstrator


“After many years of OPC UA stand­ard­isa­tion work, the pub­lic­a­tion of OPC UA for Machinery brings us an import­ant step closer to our goal of cre­at­ing a ‘glob­al pro­duc­tion lan­guage’,” says Hart­mut Rauen, Deputy Exec­ut­ive Dir­ect­or of the VDMA.

This spe­cific­a­tion, lis­ted as VDMA stand­ard sheet 40001–1 and also issued by the OPC Found­a­tion, is the first to be developed on a joint and cross-sec­tor basis by work­ing groups from dif­fer­ent tech­no­lo­gies and indus­tries. Dr. Wil­fried Schäfer, Exec­ut­ive Dir­ect­or of the VDW, adds: “Sim­ul­tan­eously, the VDW has also pub­lished the OPC UA Spe­cific­a­tion for Machine Tools. This is the first mech­an­ic­al engin­eer­ing spe­cific­a­tion ever to fully integ­rate the Spe­cific­a­tion for Machinery and thus impress­ively offers the bene­fits of this joint pro­ject to machine man­u­fac­tur­ers and cus­tom­ers alike.”

The OPC UA Spe­cific­a­tion for Machinery – Part 1 con­tains basic mod­ules for the machine inter­face which are cru­cial for the entire machine and plant engin­eer­ing sec­tor. These basic mod­ules can be used indi­vidu­ally as required, with each of them rep­res­ent­ing one or more use cases.

Part 1 con­tains machine iden­ti­fic­a­tion as a use case, includ­ing inform­a­tion on the man­u­fac­turer, seri­al num­ber and type des­ig­na­tion. Andreas Faath, VDMA Pro­ject Man­ager for OPC UA inter­op­er­ab­il­ity and II4IP (Inter­op­er­able Inter­faces for Intel­li­gent Pro­duc­tion; Fed­er­al Min­istry for Eco­nom­ic Affairs and Energy BMWi pro­ject), explains the bene­fits: “Cus­tom­ers typ­ic­ally have dif­fer­ent types of equip­ment in their pro­duc­tion depart­ment, such as robots, injec­tion mould­ing machines, machine tools, pack­aging machines etc. That’s why it’s import­ant for inform­a­tion such as machine iden­ti­fic­a­tion or status to be rep­res­en­ted and issued in the same way by all machines.”

The whole thing began with the com­par­is­on of a num­ber of spe­cific­a­tions that had already been pub­lished and were now being pro­cessed. This allowed Part 1 to be com­pleted rel­at­ively quickly. On 25 Septem­ber 2020 it became avail­able for down­load, free of charge, from

Fed­er­al Min­istry for Eco­nom­ic Affairs pro­mot­ing VDMA as a focal point for OPC-UA stand­ard development

The OPC UA Spe­cific­a­tion for Machinery rep­res­ents the first step towards achiev­ing over­all har­mon­isa­tion of the numer­ous estab­lished activ­it­ies in the field of mech­an­ic­al and plant engin­eer­ing. Around 35 work­ing groups are work­ing on this in the VDMA alone. “This bot­tom-up approach is essen­tial due to the high degree of spe­cial­isa­tion to be found in our sub-sec­tors,” Faath explains. “But this makes it all the more import­ant to coordin­ate and har­mon­ise the work in order to identi­fy any syn­er­gies at an early stage.”

The import­ance of these har­mon­isa­tion activ­it­ies was recog­nised by the BMWi and is sup­por­ted with­in the frame­work of the II4IP pro­ject. This pro­motes the devel­op­ment and dis­sem­in­a­tion of cross-industry OPC UA stand­ards. There are also plans for extens­ive know­ledge trans­fer to increase inter­op­er­ab­il­ity with­in pro­duc­tion. The pro­ject res­ults thus form a cent­ral com­pon­ent of Industry 4.0, both at the nation­al and inter­na­tion­al level.

“By means of OPC UA as the glob­al pro­duc­tion lan­guage, we in the VDMA, togeth­er with our mem­bers and oth­er inter­ested parties from all over the world, are rais­ing inter­op­er­able com­mu­nic­a­tion in pro­duc­tion to the next level,” emphas­ises Faath.

Products based on OPC UA for Machine Tools now possible

The first ver­sion of the OPC UA for Machine Tools was sim­ul­tan­eously released on 25 Septem­ber this year under num­ber 40501–1 (down­load from

“It rep­res­ents a major mile­stone for the machine tool industry. The release meant that we met the dead­line which we set ourselves at EMO Han­nov­er 2019. As a res­ult, our mem­bers can now launch products with com­mu­nic­a­tion based on OPC UA as an open inter­face,” says Wil­fried Schäfer. It also means that the machine tools at the core of indus­tri­al pro­duc­tion now have their own OPC UA stand­ard .

Above all, this provides stand­ard­ised inform­a­tion for status mon­it­or­ing, such as oper­at­ing status, machined work­pieces, tools used, and inform­a­tion for cal­cu­lat­ing KPIs. The VDW-led work­ing group was also involved in shap­ing the OPC UA for Machinery.

“It made obvi­ous sense to syn­chron­ise pub­lic­a­tion of the two spe­cific­a­tions,” explains Götz Görisch, head of the VDW work­ing group. Based on the mod­u­lar concept that dis­tin­guishes OPC UA as a com­mu­nic­a­tion stand­ard, OPC UA for Machine Tools is the first spe­cific­a­tion that fully ref­er­ences the OPC UA for Machinery guidelines for the pur­pose of machine identification.

“This will do away with any need to abuse our spe­cific­a­tion in the near future in order to integ­rate this fur­ther devel­op­ment. We can then con­cen­trate fully on expand­ing the func­tion­al scope of the spe­cific­a­tion,” says Görisch, explain­ing the procedure.

Func­tion­al­ity proved by umati demonstrator

How­ever, pub­lic­a­tion of the above two stand­ards was only the first step. Their func­tion­al­ity has also been extens­ively tested and proven by being integ­rated into real machines. This is made pos­sible using the umati demonstrator.

umati (uni­ver­sal machine tech­no­logy inter­face) serves as a user com­munity for the dis­sem­in­a­tion and estab­lish­ment of OPC UA stand­ards up to and includ­ing genu­ine plug and play deploy­ment in mech­an­ic­al and plant engin­eer­ing. The ini­ti­at­ive has been jointly sup­por­ted by the VDMA and VDW since April 2020. A spe­cial envir­on­ment has been cre­ated for trade fair demon­stra­tions with the inten­tion of com­mu­nic­at­ing and high­light­ing the added value offered by open data inter­faces to users. This con­sists of the umati data hub as an infra­struc­ture for con­nect­ing machines, and a front-end or dash­board, the umati app.

The OPC UA for Machine Tools was thor­oughly tested in two “plug-fests” before being released. “This proved that the umati infra­struc­ture offers added value bey­ond simple trade fair demon­stra­tions, and that we can now also make it avail­able to our part­ners for devel­op­ment and test­ing,” explains Dr. Alex­an­der Broos, VDW pro­ject man­ager for umati.

Exper­i­ence OPC UA and umati – Work con­tinu­ing at rap­id pace

“These mile­stones do not, how­ever, mean that we can now sit back and relax,” agree Hart­mut Rauen and Wil­fried Schäfer. There are still many aspects which need to be stand­ard­ised and refined in order to estab­lish OPC UA as the glob­al pro­duc­tion lan­guage and umati as a com­munity for its application.

It is import­ant to keep a close eye on the far-reach­ing inter­op­er­ab­il­ity require­ments through­out pro­duc­tion if we wish to see advances in har­mon­isa­tion. “From the expert dis­cus­sions already held we know just how dis­par­ate com­pany and cus­tom­er interests can be, even with­in the same industry,” says Faath, explain­ing the import­ance of a planned VDMA study, the res­ults of which will be used to fine-tune both the VDMA strategy and the work in the work­ing groups.

The gen­er­al pub­lic will be invited to take part in the study from 1 Novem­ber at
On 10 Novem­ber 2020, the VDMA will launch a brand new immers­ive avatar-based online event format for OPC UA Com­pan­ion Spe­cific­a­tions, includ­ing their devel­op­ment, con­tent and usage scenarios.

Experts will use a num­ber of slots to present the OPC UA stand­ards for mech­an­ic­al engin­eer­ing and vari­ous sub-sec­tors. It will also be pos­sible to dis­cuss any remain­ing ques­tions and there will be ample oppor­tun­ity for net­work­ing.

There are also plans for a web-based umati event in Novem­ber. Cus­tom­ers all over the world will be able to fol­low when the par­ti­cip­at­ing com­pan­ies link up their machines live.

Any ques­tions?

Andreas Faath, VDMA, Pro­ject Man­ager Inter­op­er­ab­il­ity OPC UA, II4IP, umati, phone +49 69 6603–1495, , and
Götz Görisch, Head of the VDW umati Work­ing Group, Tel. +49 69 756081–64, , will be happy to answer them.