The joint Working Group formed between PI and the OPC Foundation is making good progress in the preparation of an OPC UA companion specification for PROFINET. This team was launched following the discussions and prioritization of issues relevant to PI in the “Industrie4.0@PI” working group in May 2017.

The collaboration of PROFINET and OPC experts from different firms currently concentrates on the detailed elaboration of concrete use-cases, because only a clear, common understanding of users’ requirements leads to an appropriate and subsequently implemented specification.

The PROFINET specification has already performed a lot of preparatory work on the following use-cases: Asset Management and Diagnostics. Thanks to the TCP/IP channel in PROFINET networks, which has always been open, OPC UA access can take place via the controllers, gateways, or even directly with subordinate devices. Therefore proceeding with OPC UA can occur flexibly and in phases.

OPC UA is not a new topic for PI. For example, the FDI specification energetically pursued by PI uses OPC UA services. Similarly, the coordination of new activities for the mapping of IO-Link into OPC-UA takes place continuously.

The activities aim to create a PROFINET + OPC UA companion specification by mid-2019.

Meanwhile, device manufacturers can continue to integrate proven PROFINET services without change. A display of information using OPC UA services in accordance with currently defined mapping can then take place in the corresponding devices in accordance with customer requirements.