Pascal Friche, Head of Software Business Marketing at GF Machining Solutions, explains how, in a world where data are the new gold, OPC UA harmonizes them. He explains how OPC UA helps customers get most value out of their collected data.
"Through OPC UA, all our machines speak the same language"
Digitalization in the manufacturing world is moving ahead, digital technology today is a requirement for competitiveness. GF Machining Solutions' response to this is OPC UA. Can you explain what OPC UA is?
Data are only valuable when collected correctly and interpreted accurately. Open Platform Communications (OPC) Unified Architecture (UA) is an interface for getting information directly out of the machine, where its content and meaning are clearly defined by our data standardization. This means that all our machines speak the same language. In sum, OPC UA is becoming the most popular standard for digital transformation (Industry 4.0).
When did GF Machining Solutions launch OPC UA Standard?
In January 2021, the OPC UA Standard Interface (Version 1.0) was launched and made available on almost all our machines produced in 2021. It enables seamless data exchange between our machines and the user's shop floor environment. This interface makes it easy to connect GF Machining Solutions machines to third-party software, like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems and Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES), in order to collect and assemble personalized KPI measurements with refined machine state data.
Which data are available?
The main contents of GF Machining Solutions’ OPC UA Standard Interface (Version 1.0) are split in five major groups: machine identity, machine states, process and job information, machine messages and precomputed KPIs.
"The OPC UA data standardization allows customers firstly to understand how the machines in the shop floor are used and secondly to improve their productivity and efficiency"
What is the main advantage for customers to use the data collected by OPC UA on their shop floor?
The OPC UA data standardization allows customers firstly to understand how the machines in the shop floor are used and secondly to improve their productivity and efficiency by implementing corrective actions in the production planning.
Can you share some customer feedback on OPC UA?
Since 2019, customers are using our OPC UA Standard. These early adopters told us that they find OPC UA easy to integrate, also due to high-quality supporting material (Documentation and Simulation Server). They appreciate the fact that the data are ready to use in third-party software, avoiding additional engineering time and therefore additional cost. Some customers see us as a front-runner in digitalization.
What are the next steps in digitalization customers can expect from GF Machining Solutions?
We are moving our digital solutions from client to web-based applications, which will be hosted in the GF Machining Solutions Digital Hub. That will offer much more flexibility and new opportunities for our customers to benefit from features like asset managements from existing fleets. This new environment will connect our customers with Customer Services for all their GF Machining Solutions machines, even for unconnected machines.
Regarding the OPC UA data offering, we are currently collecting customers' feedback and further requirements to enhance the data content into a future OPC UA Interface Version 2.0.