In the fast-evolving world of control and automation, industrial connectivity plays a crucial role in ensuring seamless communication between devices and systems.
Open Platform Communications Unified Architecture (OPC UA) has emerged as a leading standard for data exchange in the industrial landscape.
As a control and automation engineer, understanding the OPC UA vendors in the market is essential to make informed decisions when implementing and integrating systems.
In this article, we will explore some of the prominent OPC UA vendors and their offerings, empowering engineers with valuable insights for their projects.
The Role of OPC UA Vendors:
OPC UA vendors play a vital role in bridging the gap between control systems, machines, and applications in modern industrial environments.
They develop and provide OPC UA software development kits (SDKs), tools, and solutions that facilitate the implementation of OPC UA communication in different applications.
These vendors play a critical role in ensuring interoperability, security, and scalability of OPC UA-enabled systems.
Benefits of Choosing the Right OPC UA Vendor
- Interoperability: OPC UA vendors follow a standardized communication protocol, which ensures seamless data exchange across various devices and software platforms. This interoperability simplifies integration and promotes plug-and-play capabilities, reducing integration effort and time.
- Security: Security is of paramount importance in industrial environments. Reputable OPC UA vendors implement robust security mechanisms, including encryption, authentication, and authorization, to safeguard data and communication channels from potential cyber threats.
- Reliability: Established OPC UA vendors offer reliable and well-tested software development kits, reducing the risk of communication failures and system downtime. This reliability translates into increased uptime and improved overall system performance.
- Scalability: As industrial systems grow and evolve, the scalability of OPC UA solutions becomes crucial. The right OPC UA vendor can provide flexible and scalable solutions that adapt to changing business needs and accommodate the integration of additional devices and applications.
- Support and Updates: Vendors with excellent customer support and a commitment to regular updates ensure that engineers can resolve issues quickly and stay up-to-date with the latest advancements and security patches in OPC UA technology.
Key Considerations for Selecting an OPC UA Vendor
- Compatibility: Ensure that the vendor’s offerings are compatible with your existing hardware and software infrastructure. The vendor’s solutions should seamlessly integrate with your current systems without the need for significant modifications.
- Security Measures: Evaluate the vendor’s security features thoroughly to ensure they align with your organization’s security policies and standards. A strong focus on security is essential to safeguard your data and assets from potential cyber threats.
- Performance and Scalability: Assess the vendor’s track record in providing performant and scalable solutions. The vendor should be able to handle large-scale industrial deployments while maintaining high data throughput and low latency.
- Reputation and Reviews: Research the vendor’s reputation and read customer reviews to gain insights into the quality of their products and services. Positive feedback and references from other control and automation engineers are indicative of a trustworthy vendor.
- Technical Support: The vendor should offer prompt and reliable technical support to address any issues or challenges that may arise during the implementation and maintenance of OPC UA-enabled systems.
OPC UA Vendors in the Control and Automation Market
Kepware, now part of PTC, is a specialist in industrial connectivity solutions and plays a vital role in the OPC UA landscape.
Their KEPServerEX software supports OPC UA, enabling secure and reliable data communication across various industrial devices and applications.
Control and automation engineers can leverage Kepware’s offerings to efficiently integrate data from diverse sources into their automation systems.
Kepware’s KEPServerEX is a highly versatile and widely-used OPC UA server that supports an extensive range of protocols and devices.
With KEPServerEX, control and automation engineers can easily connect diverse industrial devices, including PLCs, DCSs, and sensors, to third-party software applications.
The platform’s rich driver library ensures seamless communication, making KEPServerEX a go-to solution for various industrial applications.
Matrikon, now a part of Honeywell, has been a significant player in the OPC UA landscape.
They offer a range of OPC UA products and solutions to enhance connectivity and data exchange in industrial automation applications.
One of their key products is the Matrikon OPC UA Tunneller, which facilitates secure communication between OPC UA clients and servers over network barriers, such as firewalls and NAT (Network Address Translation) devices.
The OPC UA Tunneller enables seamless and secure communication even in complex network infrastructures, ensuring data flow remains reliable and efficient.
Moreover, Matrikon provides OPC UA software development kits (SDKs) for developers to implement OPC UA functionality in custom applications.
These SDKs come with comprehensive documentation, sample codes, and support, empowering engineers to quickly build robust OPC UA-enabled solutions tailored to their specific needs.
The Matrikon brand, now under Honeywell, brings a wealth of experience and expertise in industrial automation and process control.
By integrating OPC UA technology into their products, they continue to provide valuable contributions to the OPC UA ecosystem and foster interoperability in industrial systems.
Rockwell Automation is another prominent vendor that embraces OPC UA for seamless connectivity in its automation products.
Their FactoryTalk suite of products leverages OPC UA to facilitate the exchange of real-time and historical data between diverse devices and applications.
Rockwell Automation ensures compatibility with OPC UA to deliver a unified experience to their customers, reducing integration challenges for control and automation engineers.
- FactoryTalk Linx: Rockwell Automation’s OPC UA server, FactoryTalk Linx, is a robust and reliable solution for enabling seamless data communication between their controllers, such as Allen-Bradley PLCs, and third-party software applications. FactoryTalk Linx facilitates real-time data access and exchange, empowering engineers to perform advanced analytics, predictive maintenance, and performance optimization.
- Studio 5000 Logix Designer: While not exclusively an OPC UA product, Studio 5000 Logix Designer, the programming environment for Rockwell Automation’s Logix controllers, incorporates OPC UA capabilities to enable data exchange with external systems. Engineers can configure their Logix controllers to act as OPC UA servers, allowing access to process variables and control parameters.
As a global giant in industrial automation, Siemens offers a comprehensive range of products and solutions, including those compliant with OPC UA.
Their Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) architecture integrates OPC UA to enable smooth data exchange across their automation products, programmable logic controllers (PLCs), human-machine interfaces (HMIs), and more.
Siemens’ commitment to OPC UA is evident in their dedication to enhancing interoperability and security across industrial systems.
- SIMATIC NET OPC UA Server: Siemens’ flagship OPC UA server, SIMATIC NET, is designed to seamlessly integrate their automation systems with third-party applications. This powerful server enables secure and efficient data exchange between Siemens PLCs, HMIs, and other devices and external software applications. It follows the OPC UA standard rigorously, ensuring interoperability and ease of integration. With SIMATIC NET, control and automation engineers can access real-time process data, diagnostics, and alarms, empowering them with valuable insights to optimize industrial operations.
- SIMATIC NET OPC UA Client: In addition to the OPC UA server, Siemens offers OPC UA clients that allow external software applications to connect to SIMATIC controllers. This client-server architecture enables remote monitoring and control, offering greater flexibility and accessibility for engineers managing industrial processes.
TwinCAT OPC UA Server: Beckhoff Automation’s TwinCAT OPC UA Server offers seamless integration into modern automation systems.
TwinCAT supports various platforms and protocols, making it adaptable to different industrial environments.
The server facilitates standardized OPC UA communication, enabling effortless data exchange between controllers, HMIs, and external applications.
With TwinCAT, engineers can take advantage of cloud connectivity and advanced analytics to optimize their control strategies.
Honeywell Process Solutions
Honeywell’s Experion OPC UA Server enables secure and efficient data exchange between their distributed control systems (DCS) and third-party applications.
The server adheres to OPC UA standards, ensuring reliable communication and interoperability.
Engineers can access process data, alarms, and events from Honeywell’s DCS, providing them with valuable insights for enhanced decision-making and process optimization.
ABB Ability™ System 800xA: ABB incorporates OPC UA capabilities in their automation products, including the ABB Ability™ System 800xA. This system offers OPC UA servers that facilitate seamless data exchange and integration with third-party software applications.
The OPC UA servers support various data models and information modeling techniques, ensuring consistency and standardization across industrial networks.
Engineers can easily access and exchange data from ABB devices and systems, streamlining integration efforts and enhancing overall control system performance.
B&R Automation is renowned for its cutting-edge solutions in industrial automation and control.
Their commitment to OPC UA is evident through their OPC UA-based products and services.
B&R’s automation products, such as programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and industrial PCs, come equipped with built-in OPC UA servers, enabling seamless data exchange and integration into OPC UA-based systems.
B&R’s dedication to OPC UA extends beyond hardware. They also offer software solutions, such as the B&R Automation Studio, which includes OPC UA-based communication and data modeling tools.
This allows engineers to create sophisticated and standardized data structures for their applications, making it easier to integrate B&R products with third-party systems using OPC UA.
The use of OPC UA in B&R Automation products enhances connectivity and promotes interoperability, making them a preferred choice for control and automation engineers seeking a unified and efficient automation solution.
Mitsubishi Electric is a global leader in providing automation solutions for various industries.
Embracing OPC UA technology, Mitsubishi Electric offers a range of OPC UA-enabled products, including their programmable controllers, human-machine interfaces (HMIs), and industrial robots.
These OPC UA-compliant products facilitate seamless communication and data exchange across the automation hierarchy.
Mitsubishi Electric’s OPC UA server implementation adheres to industry standards, ensuring smooth integration with other OPC UA-enabled devices and applications.
This enables engineers to build flexible and scalable systems while maintaining high levels of security and reliability.
With a strong focus on innovation and quality, Mitsubishi Electric’s OPC UA offerings have become instrumental in creating smart and interconnected automation solutions that optimize productivity and improve operational efficiency.
With a strong focus on sustainability and energy management, Schneider Electric incorporates OPC UA in its EcoStruxure platform.
The integration of OPC UA in their products streamlines data exchange between control systems and enterprise applications, optimizing operational efficiency.
Schneider Electric’s commitment to OPC UA aligns with their goal of providing open, connected systems for a sustainable future.
CODESYS is a renowned software platform for programming and engineering industrial controllers.
They have embraced OPC UA technology to enable seamless integration and communication between their controller systems and various external devices and applications.
CODESYS provides an OPC UA server, which serves as a gateway for data exchange between their controllers and OPC UA clients, such as SCADA systems or MES (Manufacturing Execution Systems).
By offering an OPC UA server, CODESYS ensures their controllers can be easily integrated into a wide range of automation architectures.
With CODESYS’ OPC UA server, control and automation engineers gain access to standardized and secure data communication, making it easier to create flexible and scalable automation solutions with enhanced connectivity and interoperability.
As a control and automation engineer, embracing OPC UA technology is a game-changer for enhancing industrial processes and systems.
The choice of the right OPC UA vendor can significantly impact the success and efficiency of your projects.
By considering factors like compatibility, security measures, performance, reputation, and technical support, you can confidently select an OPC UA vendor that empowers you to build robust and future-ready automation solutions.
Embrace the power of OPC UA, and stay at the forefront of control and automation engineering.