Mr. Kühmann, what is OPC UA?
Thorsten Kühmann: OPC UA (Open Platform Communications Unified Architecture) is the global language of production. Simply put, it is about machines being able to communicate with each other in the same language. Only this enables machine-to-machine communication across manufacturers and internationally.
Why is OPC UA indispensable for the plastics industry in the future?
Kühmann: It is indispensable because the production language creates a decisive prerequisite for being able to offer intelligent machine systems. Intelligence is created by algorithms that can be generated from a large amount of data. The basic prerequisite for this is that data is collected reliably along the process chain. This requires a reliable, standardized data flow, and that is exactly what the OPC UA-based production language is designed to deliver.
What can the technology already do today? Where does the industry still want to take it?
Kühmann: OPC UA provides the technical framework for the new language; it is, so to speak, the grammar of a new language. Within the industry, we are working internationally on the definition of interfaces for the respective application, the so-called specifications. This is then comparable to the words of a language. In the area of injection molding, extrusion and peripherals, we have already made good progress.
To what extent will this topic also be present at K 2022?
Kühmann: It will be present through a variety of use cases. Visitors will be sent on the OPC UA journey with their smartphones and will be able to read out defined data from around 70 machines exhibited at K. In the VDMA Dome, we will also install a control panel with which visitors can reach all connected machines. This will give them an impression of cross-manufacturer machine-to-machine communication.