Companion specification simplifies information transfer

18th July 2018
Alex Lynn

It has been announced by CC-Link Partner Association (CLPA) that they have completed a companion specification with the OPC Foundation (OPCF), to simplify the tasks of information transfer between plant systems and to provide high connectivity and interoperability. This is based on the CLPA’s “CSP+ for Machine” technology.

As described by the OPCF, OPC UA (Unified Architecture) is a platform independent, service oriented architecture that integrates the functionality of the individual OPC Classic specifications into one extensible framework.

It delivers the necessary infrastructure for interoperability and for moving data and information from the embedded world to the cloud. It also addresses cyber security with technology that has been assessed by the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI). Hence OPC UA is a key component in the drive towards Industry 4.0.

John Browett, CLPA-Europe General Manager, added: “With Industry 4.0 becoming a key topic, this companion specification will increase process and system transparency for end users, enabling more efficient operations, better product quality and higher productivity.”

CLPA’s activity with the OPCF aims to expand its existing CSP+ (Control & Communication System Profile) technology from just describing individual devices and to apply it to complete machines and production lines. This is the key concept behind CSP+ for Machine.

CSP+ has long been providing easy drag and drop network configuration using CSP+ files from CLPA partner vendors, by allowing the creation of device libraries. However, the new CSP+ for Machine extension of CSP+ provides easy network configuration and maintenance by offering profiles that describe whole machines instead of just devices on a CC-Link IE network.

Browett explained: “The CSP+ concept has allowed individual devices on a network to be defined by a profile and, therefore made it easier to configure and maintain networks. By mapping the OPC UA model to CSP+ for Machine, we can take a step further and offer the ability to treat an entire machine like a device. Thus, we simplify configuration and maintenance on a much higher level.”

Via XML, CSP+ for Machine provides information concerning machine specifications, application software, data to be acquired and how, as well as relationship between machine data and information. As a result, end users will have easy access to meaningful data from each machine such as production volume, operating performance, and energy consumption. This will ensure the highest levels of connectivity and interoperability and allow information to be easily shared throughout an enterprise and beyond.

Commenting on the new companion specification from CLPA, OPCF President, Thomas Burke, noted: “The OPCF is dedicated to producing the best specifications for multi-vendor, multi-platform, information integration, and interoperability for moving data and information from the embedded world to the cloud. The cooperation between the OPCF and CLPA has been very exciting so far and resulted in a detailed companion specification that truly attests to the partnership between our two organisations.

“The CLPA and its suppliers now have plug and play interoperability to the cloud. This is what the end users demand as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) becomes a reality. This is the first of many good things to come, as we continue to evolve the technology of both our organisations. We will always be working closely together to ensure seamless interoperability for our end users".

Browett concluded: “The OPCF has a variety of different companion specifications available now. CSP+ for Machine is part of that family and is able to increase the amount of options available to people who are using OPC UA technology.”

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