Rockwell joins Bosch, Cisco and Schneider to develop OPC-UA comms standard
US firm Rockwell Automation is heading a team of industrial automation specialists and solution providers to create a new communication solution based on the OPC-UA protocol for real-time and sensor-to-cloud applications.
ABB, Belden, Bosch Rexroth, B&R, Cisco, Hilscher, KUKA, National Instruments, Parker Hannifin, Phoenix Contact, Pilz and Schneider Electric are among 15 companies seeking to establish new OPC-UA based communications.
The solution, for industrial operations, will be based on the OPC-UA protocol, which allows easy and secure sharing of information across different vendor technologies and the time-sensitive networking (TSN) suite of standards.
OPC-UA has developed as a key technology for securely connecting IT and OT systems in industrial settings, as discussed in Enterprise IoT Insights’ recent editorial report on IIoT security.
The task to connect technologies across an industrial organisation while maintaining multi-vendor interoperability requires an “interoperable solution that uses consistent information models, communication and application behaviour,” noted Paul Brooks, business development manager, at Rockwell Automation, referencing specifically the need for new ‘application profiles’ in industrial connectivity.
Sebastian Sachse, from B&R Industrial Automation, commented: “That’s what this group of automation leaders are combining their expertise to create. Our solution will give manufacturing and industrial organisations best-of-breed I/O device control, motion and safety application profiles.”
The companies are engaging with industry consortia including Avnu, IEEE, IIC, LNI 4.0 and OPC Foundation to ensure the emerging OPC UA TSN solution supports interoperability of different vendor technologies on the same network. They intend to provide one-stop-shop certification of the overall solution up to the device-profile level, said Rockwell Automation.
Meanwhile, Rockwell Automation reported sales of $1.65 billion in the second fiscal quarter of 2018, up 6.2 per cent on a year ago. Organic sales climbed 3.5 per cent, it said. Net income was $227.4 million in the period, compared with $189.5 million; pre-tax margins stood at 18.1 per cent, from 14.8 per cent a year ago.
The company said demand was “fairly broad” based across regions and verticals, but led by heavy industries, including oil and gas, mining, metals, and semiconductor. Blake Moret, chairman and chief executive officer at Rockwell Automation, said: “The global manufacturing environment remains favourable and macroeconomic indicators are positive.”
He added: “We are ramping up investments to accelerate profitable growth and increase long-term differentiation. These include software development and commercial resources to fuel the growth of our ‘information solutions’ and ‘connected services’ offerings, accelerated investments to expand our process capabilities, and projects to enhance employee engagement globally.”