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Introducing Prosys OPC UA Edge

24.01.2023


Key Features

  • Connects to multiple OPC UA servers and clients.
  • Allows importing industry-specific and customized NodeSets.
  • Enables harmonizing the data with configurable functions.
  • Provides all OPC UA clients with a clear and coherent Address Space.
  • Offers a single secure point of access, enabling effective system architecture.


Introduction

As Industry 4.0 has become more popular and deemed necessary for successful production, many companies have started migrating their automated systems. However, these IT/OT integration projects often face difficulties with data harmonization of information resources, especially in brownfield plants and factories. The challenge arises when information is transported from devices and machines to IT between multiple systems.

To successfully execute Industry 4.0 migration, we have created Prosys OPC UA Edge (EDGE) that combines the benefits of edge computing and data harmonization, making it easy for you to transform the differing information models of underlying OPC UA servers into one standardized model. This model then provides you with a harmonized interface to which you can connect your IT systems, including MES, ERP and IoT, using OPC UA client connections, as shown in Figure 1.

Edge connections

Figure 1. OPC UA Edge Connections

Using EDGE in your migrated system gives you many benefits, the most apparent being data harmonization. As the number of products and systems from different vendors are used in the production processes, the need for this harmonizing solution is also increased. With EDGE, onboarding new IT systems and production equipment is significantly more straightforward than without, along with easy scaling to multiple production sites.

Information Models

OPC Foundation defines an information model as an “organizational framework that defines, characterizes and relates information resources of a given system”. What this means is that every system has its own information model that describes the information resources and the values necessary for that system to work. Information resources include PLCs, actuators, motors, robots, and anything whose data can or needs to be monitored. The information model also defines essential information for those resources, such as device name, speed, status, functions, and control parameters, among others.

Information models are created according to the current needs, and every model reflects the modeler’s vision of necessary information. This can result in information models that do not follow the same naming or organizational conventions. The differences between models become apparent when we look at their address spaces. An address space is an OPC UA server’s representation of an information model. The locations and names of folders, objects and variables depend on the model underneath.

Data Harmonization Using EDGE

Using EDGE’s graphical user interface (see Figure 2), you can browse the underlying address spaces and select the data you want to harmonize. For this, you have operations such as renaming, scaling, and adding offsets. Next, you can set the information model to which the selected data will be mapped.

EDGE GUI

Figure 2. EDGE User Interface

Your information model uses the underlying servers as its information resources and can present the data coherently. You can either use EDGE’s graphical interface to create a new information model or import an existing NodeSet for that purpose. NodeSets are XML schema files following the syntax OPC Foundation has specified. These files contain all essential information about an information model.

The final address space, which is created based on your information model, exposes the underlying data in a way that looks like all the information came from the same place instead of multiple different places. Figure 3 illustrates a simple example of four different address spaces combined into one using EDGE. The resulting address space follows the same naming and indexing principles for every information resource.

Edge address space

Figure 3. OPC UA Edge Address Space

More Information and Testing

If you are interested in following the development of this groundbreaking solution, subscribing to our blog’s RSS feed, and following us on social media are great options. We’ll be posting tutorials and other interesting information in the coming months.

We’re also happy to help you with any EDGE-related questions and needs you or your organization might face. Don’t hesitate to contact us by email at sales@prosysopc.com or through our website contact form.

Kaisa Voutilainen

Kaisa Voutilainen

Software Engineer

Email:kaisa.voutilainen@prosysopc.com

Tags: OPC UA, Edge, Information Models

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About Prosys OPC Ltd

Prosys OPC is a leading provider of professional OPC software and services with over 20 years of experience in the field. OPC and OPC UA (Unified Architecture) are communications standards used especially by industrial and high-tech companies.

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