OPC UA over TSN will be the unified communication standard of the Industrial IoT. Standardisation and ongoing development of OPC UA at the field level will take place under the umbrella of the OPC Foundation. This represents a long awaited answer to the market’s demand for vendor-agnostic, interface-free industrial communication.
B&R has been a main player in the initiative to develop and standardise OPC UA over TSN for communication at the controller and field level. The company plays a leading role in the corresponding standardisation organisations: OPC Foundation, IEC/IEEE and VDMA. B&R also actively participates in testbeds such as those conducted by the Industrial Internet Consortium. “We’re working to make sure that both builders and operators of industrial machinery see real benefits from harmonised communication as soon as possible,” says Stefan Schönegger, vice president of strategy and innovation at B&R. In addition, B&R’s parent company ABB has been appointed to the board of the OPC Foundation.
OPC UA over TSN will enable plug-and-produce networks that are easy to administer and configure. Network stations will communicate up to 18 times faster than with any protocol available on the market today. This opens up new possibilities in areas such as tightly synchronized motion and control applications. OPC UA over TSN will also meet the requirements of future IoT applications. The technology supports networks comprising tens of thousands of nodes and benefits from bandwidth extensions to the Ethernet standard. Even large volumes of data – such as those generated by integrated machine vision applications – can be handled with ease.
The fusion of IT and OT
OPC UA enables seamless, transparent communication from the sensor to the cloud. The worlds of IT and OT merge to form a unified network, fulfilling a key requirement of all Industrial IoT applications. Both OPC UA and the TSN Ethernet extension are managed and developed by independent organisations, making OPC UA over TSN a truly vendor-agnostic protocol. “In terms of communication, machine builders and operators are no longer bound to specific suppliers,” explains Schönegger.