Kick-off meeting for PLCopen and OPC Foundation on Manufacturing Execution System (MES) connectivity held on November 17 at SAP

CA Zaltbommel, (PresseBox) - PLCopen and OPC Foundation cooperate on Manufacturing Execution System (MES) connectivity, defined as the integration of machine and process data for utilisation by MES based on OPC UA and PLCopen.

"We are glad that SAP and also organizations like VDMA and ZVEI are supporting this initiative" says Stefan Hoppe, President OPC Foundation Europe. "MES experts will influence the content and connectivity which is handled via OPC UA and IEC 61131-3 technologies. Within short time all major players from controller and MES manufacturers signed to support the new group" Stefan adds.

"With the basic cooperation between PLCopen and OPC Foundation in place, and the first results of the coupling of IEC 61131-3 Software model to OPC UA available, this is the next logical step" adds Rene Simon as chairman of PLCopen. "This will definitely change the connectivity in the plants" Rene adds.

For MES connectivity two aspects are therefore of essential significance:

a. How does the communication take place?
The use of proprietary protocols for accessing a diverse range of machines is no longer appropriate. The application of international communication standards enables identical access mechanisms for different equipment from different suppliers and communication between the devices. This facilitates interoperability and makes the communication more efficient. Safety concepts and authorization mechanisms also play a significant role, particularly in an MES context.

b. What is communicated?
Key factors not only include the specification of which process data and measured values are used for the calculation and what they mean. Further considerations include how they have to be determined and which specific sources these values provide. The aim is to create a common and integrated understanding of the exchanged information.

This working group consists of controller and MES manufacturers as well as users and system integrators for the MES integration of process, production, system and machine data. Also other organizations like ZVEI and VDMA are involved.

The aims of this joint working group focus on two main topics:
1. Definition of communication mechanisms via OPC UA for MES integration
2. Definition of the semantics for MES integration Based on the OPC UA communication mechanisms any desired information can be exchanged between the control level and MES systems. It is assumed that the content can be adjusted on a project-specific basis in the products (e.g. controllers). For example, in an IEC 61131-3 based control system the controller programmer can define the content and program the processes through suitable data structures and function blocks.
Nevertheless, it makes sense to define the content further. To this end, common semantics that are understandable for all participants are defined and specified with the aid of clear information model definitions. Where appropriate, generic profiles with general key data can be found or defined with sector-specific profiles. These profiles can then be realised through a standardised PLCopen block library, for example.

In this context the focus should be on synchronisation with other activities for specifying key data and MES interface content.


PLCopen was founded in 1992 as an independent worldwide association for industrial suppliers and users. It is the leading association resolving topics related to industrial control programming. PLCopen creates concepts to reduce the costs of industrial automation. These cost savings are realized in areas such as engineering, training, operation and maintenance. Together with its members, PLCopen creates specifications to materialize these concepts.

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