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Top 3 Reasons Why You Should Use a PLC with OPC-UA for Industry 4.0

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i. Reliablility: IEC communication protocol for Industrie 4.0 and PackML

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OPC UA is an industrial communication protocol that enables data exchange between products from different manufacturers and across operating systems. This international standard (IEC 62541) is integrated with the IEC 61131-3 PLC programming standard. OPC UA is listed as a recommendation for the communication technology in RAMI 4.0 (Reference Architecture Model Industrie 4.0) and also serves as a basis for the packaging standard PackML (ANSI/ISA-TR88) and the standard for exchange of data between injection molding machines (EUROMAP 77). The adoption of this open standard for manufacturing machines is increasing worldwide. In such circumstances, Omron added an OPC UA server interface to the Omron PLC series NX102 and NJ501 PLC machine automation controllers.

ii. Easy Setup: Simple connection to host system

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A gateway computer is required to connect the traditional PLC to the host system. The user must register variables and allocate memory to them. Omron’s OPC UA CPU Unit eliminates the need for a computer. Just select variables to directly connect the controller to the host system. This makes set up easy and convenient for engineers from all levels!

iii. Robust Security:Authentication and Encryption Technologies

Security is a crucial issue for connection between industrial automation systems and the host IT system, remote access maintenance, and use of the internet. OPC UA security is based on recognized standards that are also used for secure communication in the internet and satisfies the three security requirements: Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability. Integrity by digitally signing the messages and confidentiality by encrypting the messages ensure secure connection between automation systems and IT systems. These essential security features of PLC OPC-UA makes Industry 4.0 connectivity much easier and safer.

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Other Useful Information

What is OPC UA (OPC Unified Architecture)?

・An interoperability standard for the secure and reliable exchange of data in the industrial automation space and in other industries

・An OS and hardware independent service-oriented architecture by OPC Foundation (more information can be found here)

・Secure connection between higher-level systems like MES or ERP and automation systems at production floor

What is PackML (ANSI/ISA-TR88)?

PackML (Packaging Machine Language) developed by OMAC (Organization for Machine Automation and Control) is a standard for packaging machines that defines mode and state of devices and interface with host devices. In September 2016, it was announced that OMAC, PLCopen and OPC Foundation would work together to promote this standard. Omron offers OPC UA CPU units, Function Blocks for PackML in the Packaging Machine Library (SYSMAC-XR012), and sample programs to use the Function Blocks, helping you comply with PackML.

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