Top 10 Things to Know About OPC-UA

 In Documentary

At Elite Controls, we understand information on the most cutting-edge technology is important to our customers, and we provide the expertise to help you make the best decisions on what new technology to adopt and use in your next system.  Below is a brief overview on some of the important points to consider about the newest open platform communication (OPC) for your automation systems.

  1. What is it? OPC UA is the next generation of OPC technology, providing a more secure, open, reliable mechanism for transferring information between Servers and Clients.
  2. What is it used for? Most often, open platform communication is a mechanism for moving data between enterprise-type systems and a machine in the field or factory setting – end points are sensors, monitoring devices, controllers, etc. OPC-UA is commonly used for industrial devices including machines on a factory floor, laboratory equipment, test system fixtures, and databases.
  3. OPC Classic vs. OPC UA – The main advantage for use of OPC UA is its lack of dependence on a Microsoft Windows operating system to deploy.  OPC Classic requires an environment 100% dependent on Windows whereas OPC UA allows for a variety of systems, including a binary protocol which requires minimal resources or a standard web service protocol operating with HTTP/HTTPS ports.
  4. Scalability – because OPC UA is platform-independent it can be run on high-end, complex servers as well as simple, low-end sensors.  This allows automation design to include various types of components and ensures no type or brand of equipment will cause functionality issues in the system.
  5. Enhanced Security – OPC UA uses standard web technologies for its security foundation including authentication and encryption to protect data.  Class OPC used a more complicated COM/DCOM security configuration which often led to errors or lack of security configuration due to difficulty for users.
  6. Integration – Because OPC UA uses web technologies for security, it is easier to integrate with existing networks, including connections through a VPN and protection through standard firewalls. This makes it easier for your IT team to integrate your new automation system into the existing security protocols for your company.
  7. Compatibility – The differences in technology used for communication protocol between Classic OPC and OPC UA make compatibility between the technologies difficult. Some strategies exist to build a bridge between the two technologies, but often the recommendation is to make a complete switch to OPC UA in order to ensure the security of the system.

At Elite Controls, we work to help design and build systems for many types of applications including factory automation, mobile equipment, explosion proof environments, marine applications and much more. Please contact us for help with your next project.