OPC UA interface standard

The OPC UA interface standard allows for a comprehensive data exchange between products of different manufacturers. The acronym OPC UA stands for Open Platform Communications Unified Architecture. In die casting, a working group of manufacturers and industry experts under the leadership of the German Engineering Federation (VDMA) is developing a uniform interface.

The development of the overarching interface standard is necessary as the concept of “Industry 4.0” is based on an exchange of information not only between manufacturers but also between the individual device units. The goal of OPC UA is to optimize the cooperation of die casting machines, casting cell components and other peripheral equipment in order to increase their efficiency. This exchange is also referred to as “horizontal communication”. Furthermore, using OPC UA also facilitates data exchange on a vertical level significantly. This means: relevant production data from the merchandise management system can be called up directly from the machine, generating corresponding key figures on the basis of this data. This process is referred to as ” vertical communication”. One advantage of OPC UA, on a vertical level, is recording and assigning of energy costs directly to the respective cost centers as well as reporting necessary maintenance intervals directly to the relevant departments.

The VDMA specification is divided into two parts. The first part defines the different mechanisms occuring in the direct and wider industrial environment of die casting production. The second part contains the common definitions and interfaces for devices and systems. The definitions and interfaces refer to the communication of the plant components among themselves but also to the communication outside the casting cell. Furthermore, this part contains the definitions of data types, structures and functions for all die casting equipment.

OPC UA has the goal to digitally connect productions in die-casting and other industries in order to increase their efficiency and flexibility. Using the OPC UA interface, components, machines and entire systems can be controlled individually and independently of manufacturer specifications. KMA Umwelttechnik, as an expert for exhaust air purification and smoke extraction on die casting machines having over 30 years of experience in the industry, supports the working group in making processes as intelligent and energy efficient as possible This includes a “smart” integration of filter technology into production plants – for example by adapting the fully automatic KMA filter cleaning system (CIP) to the changeover phases of casting cells to effectively use its downtimes.