Open Process Connectivity (OPC)
Do you have a single view of all factory machinery? As automation and technology becomes the forefront of a bustling factory floor, it’s crucial that engineers, factory managers and production line staff have full visibility across all machines, and that they can speak to each other.
What is OPC?
OPC is a standard that defines “Open Process Connectivity” or just “Open Connectivity” meaning that different industrial control or automation systems can communicate with each other. This includes controls that would usually be incompatible across the production line. The OPC standard was created and continues to be maintained by the OPC Foundation to ensure consistency.
An OPC Server provides information to one or more clients, each of which can communicate with the server by reading values from equipment or by writing values to control equipment.
- Finding the number of products printed
- Selecting a print job
- Accessing historical data
- Monitoring events in the connected systems
Why do I need OPC?
Industrial operations face a number of communication challenges, particularly when it comes to communications between different brand/manufacturers devices and software. Machine communication has to be exact, and most devices don’t all communicate using the same methods or protocols which can prevent them from passing crucial information, the OPC standard resolves this issue.
“OPC technologies were created to allow information to be easily and securely exchanged between diverse platforms from multiple vendors and to allow seamless integration of those platforms without costly, time-consuming software development.” – The OPC Foundation
Who needs to use OPC?
Typically an integrator, or the IT department could write applications or scripts to communicate with, and control, the equipment in a configuration by using programming or application tools.
Examples of activities facilitated by the ICE CLARiSUITE OPC server:
- Print a certain message on a certain printer
- Download a database job to a group of printers
- Enquire how many products printer A has printed
- Fetch faults and warnings
How can I use OPC with my ICE coders?
Clearmark provides an OPC Server as part of the CLARiSUITE package (all versions). The OPC server can operate as a service therefore can start automatically. This enables OPC Clients to connect to, and communicate with, ICE equipment running in a CLARiNET network without needing knowledge of the low-level ICE equipment protocols.
CLARiNET must be used to set up the system of managed coders. Once established, the CLARiNET OPC Server can be used independently without needing to run CLARiNET. The CLARiNET OPC Server must be run on the PC that was used to run CLARiNET. However, the OPC Client can run on any PC on the same internal network as the PC running the CLARiNET OPC Server.