B&R has tightly integrated OPC UA into its automation products. It is therefore possible for any B&R controller to be implemented as an OPC UA server or client. This allows vertical communication with SCADA, MES and ERP systems as well vendor-independent communication from PLC to PLC.
Configuring OPC UA devices and assigning access rights in B&R's Automation Studio engineering environment is completed with just a few clicks. PLCopen function blocks are used to implement OPC UA functions in an automation project.
OPC UA products from B&R have completed the OPC Foundation's certification process. Each product has to pass 600 tests to ensure conformity with OPC UA specifications.
Because of the many advantages it offers, B&R uses OPC UA for more than just vendor-independent horizontal and vertical communication: The protocol is also used for communication between B&R products. The web-based mapp View HMI solution , for example, uses OPC UA to exchange all the necessary data with the machine or system. This facilitates development of extremely flexible and modular HMI solutions.
B&R also relies on OPC UA for vendor-independent communication in the APROL process and factory automation platform . All APROL variables that the OPC UA server in APROL should make available to OPC UA clients for read or write access can be defined through a simple selection process. The OPC UA client has integrated browser functionality that makes it easy to select data points that should be linked.
Motor management and control units, compact OPC controllers and other devices can directly exchange all important operating, service and diagnostic data with APROL via the OPC UA client. In addition, HMI panels or SCADA systems can be connected to APROL.
Active member of the OPC Foundation
B&R has joined the effort to advance OPC UA development. B&R has for many years been one of the leading companies in
the OPC Foundation PLCopen working group and continually develops new PLCopen function blocks for OPC UA. B&R also supports the OPC Foundation real-time working group and actively works on the Invalid link, which will allow communication from the sensor layer to the ERP layer without any interfaces whatsoever.
B&R is a pioneer when it comes to integration of OPC UA in its automation products. Karl Mayr, technical manager of automation software at B&R, explains how OPC UA has developed and why B&R has been relying on OPC UA for years:
"Today, OPC UA fulfills all requirements that system and machinery owners place on a communications protocol for fully networked production facilities. This platform-independent solution is standardized and secure and has capabilities that help ensure high availability. It also allows data to be transformed into information that can be understood by a wide range of systems from different vendors.
It was a good start, but there were still quite a few drawbacks along the way. OPC Classic has no built-in safety mechanisms and does not provide high availability. It is also tied to the Windows platform. To solve these and other problems, B&R contributed to the further development of this standard into OPC UA.
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