MUNICH, Germany—VDMA Robotics and Automation, the German machine tool builders association, recently unveiled new specifications that will enable manufacturers to implement state-of-the-art assembly lines.

The OPC UA Companion Specification for Robotics (OPC UA Robotics) provides a standardized information model which is capable of presenting all robot-related data regardless of supplier or location in a uniform manner. Part 1 permits asset management, condition monitoring, preventive maintenance and vertical integration at anytime, anywhere in the world and independent of robot brand or type.

“This provides the ideal basis for data analytics and for boosting overall equipment effectiveness,” claims Horst Heinol-Heikkinen, chairman of the VDMA OPC Vision Initiative. “In the smart factory of the future, machines must speak the same language. The decisive factor here is the standardization of communication interfaces.

“Interoperability is the key for distinguishing our products in a connected world of Industry 4.0,” says Heinol-Heikkinen. “OPC UA is the designated standard to make machines talk the same language in the smart factory of the future.”

“OPC UA Vision provides a generic model for all machine vision systems, from simple vision sensors to complex inspection systems,” adds Stefan Hoppe, global vice president of the OPC Foundation. “It defines the essence of a machine vision system.”

At the recent Automatica trade show, a display demonstrated how the new technology works. It featured an assembly cell producing fidget spinners that integrated systems and components from more than 20 manufactures speaking one language: OPC UA.

Major robot manufacturers demonstrated how condition monitoring could be implemented independently of vendor and robot type in the cloud. All relevant status data was clearly visible on a dashboard. Applications included asset management, condition monitoring, preventive maintenance and vertical integration.

The OPC UA Robotics companion specification is now available free of charge as VDMA Specification number 40010. The OPC UA Vision companion specification is also available for free as VDMA Specification number 40100. To learn more, click or email