In 1994, experts from a spectrum of industrial disciplines formed the OPC Foundation. The Foundation's goal was developing a single client/server specification that allows vendors to develop applications that share data in a fast, robust fashion, and eliminate proprietary schemes that forced vendors to duplicate development efforts. The OPC Foundation released the first specification, Data Access Specification 1.0a, in 1996. Using this specification, vendors quickly developed client/server software.
The Data Access specification eliminated the need for application vendors to develop proprietary communications drivers—an effort that often outweighed application development. OPC technology focuses vendor efforts almost exclusively on the client application. The Data Access specification defines how both the client and the server application interface are constructed. If the specification is followed properly, a client vendor knows any OPC server for an industrial device can provide the connectivity needed for data access. Issues like time to market or reliability no longer restrict OPC applications.
Historically, end users needed to select solutions based on communication driver availability or vendor willingness to develop them. OPC gives end users the ability to select best-of-breed software to solve application problems. The user can choose from a variety of OPC server vendors to address a new driver requirement or remedy performance issues. Application vendors can focus on continuously improving core products without the disruption of addressing communication issues and needs.
OPC Data Access (OPC DA) is a specification developed by the OPC Foundation. At a high level, an OPC server is comprised of several objects: the server, the group, and the item. Groups provide a way for clients to organize data while items represent connections to data sources within the server. This defines the path for real-time data exchange between a client and server using universal protocols.
With high volumes of automation and data in today’s manufacturing environment, OPC Alarms and Events (OPC AE) notify IT about alarms, audit events, provide advance warning of equipment failures or maintenance needs, and optimize operations when alarms occur to keep systems online.
To learn more about the OPC standard, visit the OPC Foundation today.
Read our blog to find out how OPC UA protects the security and integrity of your organization’s data.