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umati – on its way to becoming the global language of production

By 02.04.2020November 7th, 2020Video

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,” said Dr. Wil­fried Schäfer, Exec­ut­ive Dir­ect­or of the VDW (Ger­man Machine Tool Build­ers’ Asso­ci­ation), explain­ing the strategy at the asso­ci­ations’ joint press con­fer­ence in Frank­furt am Main.

“Man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pan­ies have not only machine tools but also their own indi­vidu­al mix of machines, equip­ment, robots and sys­tems. If all these tech­no­lo­gies can exist in a com­mon eco­sys­tem which is ideal for pro­du­cing plug-and-play solu­tions, this will save end users a lot of time and money,” Schäfer con­tin­ued. Hart­mut Rauen, Deputy Exec­ut­ive Dir­ect­or of the VDMA (Ger­man Engin­eer­ing Fed­er­a­tion), added: “Over 30 spe­cial­ist group­ings in more than 17 asso­ci­ations are work­ing on tech­no­logy-spe­cif­ic inter­faces, 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.“

OPC UA Com­pan­ion Spe­cific­a­tion for Machinery to be pub­lished in 2020

The mech­an­ic­al and plant engin­eer­ing sec­tor adop­ted OPC UA as the stand­ard for data exchange from an early stage. This is 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,” announced Hart­mut Rauen.

umati aimed at end customers

The machine tool industry was also at the fore­front of this pro­cess. An ini­ti­at­ive to devel­op an open, stand­ard­ised inter­face was presen­ted back in 2017. Here, too, an early decision was taken in favour of OPC UA as the base tech­no­logy. Just two years later, a show­case fea­tur­ing 70 part­ners from ten coun­tries demon­strated at EMO Han­nov­er that it was pos­sible to con­nect 110 machines to 28 soft­ware ser­vices dis­trib­uted across the exhib­i­tion grounds in a sys­tem which func­tions to all intents and pur­poses on a “plug and play” basis. In addi­tion, the VDW launched the umati – uni­ver­sal machine tool inter­face label back in 2018, a brand aimed primar­ily at cus­tom­ers all over the world.

In the mean­time, numer­ous oth­er OPC UA Com­pan­ion Spe­cific­a­tions have been developed by the VDMA and its part­ner organ­isa­tions. In order to give these spe­cific­a­tions great­er vis­ib­il­ity and to increase their usage levels, umati is now being exten­ded to cov­er the entire mech­an­ic­al and plant engin­eer­ing industry as a com­munity for the use and mar­ket­ing of OPC UA Com­pan­ion Specifications.

The new name umatiuni­ver­sal machine tech­no­logy inter­face rep­res­ents a per­form­ance prom­ise of inter­op­er­able pro­duc­tion. umati is a brand and label for a com­munity that has come togeth­er to propag­ate the OPC UA stand­ards with­in the mech­an­ic­al and plant engin­eer­ing sec­tor. It provides a frame­work for joint mar­ket­ing, pub­lic rela­tions, demon­stra­tion of use cases and for end cus­tom­er com­mu­nic­a­tion. It is based on the OPC UA inter­face stand­ard­isa­tion in vari­ous branches of mech­an­ic­al and plant engin­eer­ing. “That is why in the future we will always be refer­ring to the latest ver­sion of the OPC UA Com­pan­ion Spe­cific­a­tion for Machine Tools”, explains Wil­fried Schäfer from the VDW.

The next steps include fur­ther optim­isa­tion of the rel­ev­ant Com­pan­ion Spe­cific­a­tions, dis­sem­in­a­tion of the respect­ive stand­ards, and the sta­ging of show­cases at trade fairs. The umati show­cases high­light the cross-industry use of vari­ous OPC UA stand­ards in a prac­tic­al way, aimed at demon­strat­ing the suit­ab­il­ity of OPC UA stand­ards for every­day use in pro­duc­tion to the diverse range of customers.

“We expect to see the first con­crete products based on the OPC UA Spe­cific­a­tion for Machine Tools provid­ing con­nectiv­ity to cus­tom­ers in the second half of this year,” said Schäfer. “For our part­ners it is there­fore all the more import­ant that the devel­op­ment of the umati com­munity also adheres to this roadmap in provid­ing clear vis­ib­il­ity and rais­ing aware­ness levels,” he continued.

“The VDW and VDMA have decided to take care of this togeth­er in future. Pro­duc­tion man­agers all over the world must be able to count on machines from any giv­en man­u­fac­turer being able to speak the same lan­guage, thus turn­ing the claim of umati — Con­nect­ing the World of Machinery, into real­ity,” con­cluded Rauen.


Con­tacts for fur­ther information

Andreas Faath, VDMA For­um Industry 4.0, Tel. +49 69 6603–1495,

Dr. Alex­an­der Broos, VDW Research and tech­no­logy, Tel. +49 69 756081–17,