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When it comes to networking and standardization or cybersecurity – the requirements for industrial networks are increasing at an ever-faster pace. In this problematic area, the open, Ethernet-based OPC UA (Open Platform Communications – Unified Architecture) communication standard is experiencing rapid growth. With its integrated security mechanisms, vendor- and platform-independent OPC UA provides the best foundation conditions for digitalization.
Siemens relies on OPC UA for vertical connection and for communication between machines (M2M) – and it’s combining the advantages of OPC UA with those of PROFINET in Industrial Ethernet networks.
OPC UA FAQ │ Sven Gottwald, Head of System Management, Siemens AG
Yes, you’ll need both.
OPC UA supplements PROFINET – it doesn’t replace it. The strengths of OPC UA are primarily in the area of vertical communication and when networking machines at the control level. PROFINET, on the other hand, meets all requirements at the field level.
That’s why the Siemens strategy is:
Control level and above = OPC UA
Field level = PROFINET
The OPC UA standard
OPC UA (Open Platform Communications – Unified Architecture) is an open standard for horizontal communication from machine to machine (M2M) and for vertical communication from machine all the way to the cloud. It’s vendor- and platform-independent, supports extensive security mechanisms, and can be optimally combined with PROFINET in a shared Industrial Ethernet network.
To handle the requirements of tomorrow’s industry, industrial networks will need to be able to meet ever-increasing demands. Companies will need convergent, end-to-end, secured networks that are flexibly scalable, dynamically adaptable, and able to accommodate large numbers of users – naturally, with the fastest possible response times.
OPC UA is an important component: The open, platform-neutral communication standard enables seamless communication with third-party applications and can be flexibly scaled to meet specific requirements. With its semantic capabilities, OPC UA supports more than just data transmission: It also contains a unique information model. Proven security mechanisms like authentication, authorization, and encryption guarantee a secure connection. In addition, PROFIsafe mechanisms are being prepared for OPC UA to permit standardized, safety-related communication between machines. OPC UA can also be integrated into existing Industrial Ethernet networks and can run on the existing PROFINET infrastructure without compromising performance.
That’s why Siemens relies on OPC UA as the number-one open interface from the control level to higher-level SCADA, MES, and ERP systems all the way to the cloud.
Guaranteed, scalable bandwidths, optimized Quality of Service (QoS) mechanisms, real-time capability, and very low transmission latency in communication networks: Siemens relies on Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) to get the most out of automation networks while meeting constantly growing requirements. As a result, communication from machine to machine and from machine all the way up to the operator level can achieve new heights in terms of speed and reliability. TSN is defined within the framework of IEEE 802.1 and combines a series of individual standards that affect only the data-link communication layer (layer 2).
Open Platform Communications – Unified Architecture (OPC UA) was developed by the OPC Foundation, which was created in 1996 with Siemens as a founding member. The OPC Foundation is an international nonprofit organization with over 450 members from all sectors of industry. It works closely with users and vendors to develop the open, vendor-independent standard – and it does so successfully, according to this statement by Holger Junker of the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI): “The only communication technology in the factory with implicit security features and the potential to meet the challenges posed by Industrie 4.0 that I am aware of today is OPC UA.”
OPC UA products
Siemens offers a comprehensive range of products for Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) that extends from the field level to the control and operator levels. As an open communication standard, OPC UA plays an important role in the entire TIA portfolio.