The Wide World of Open Platform Communications

Open Platform Communications (or OPC) refers to a set of standards that govern industrial communication. These norms have been developed over the past decade. The implementation of these standards is currently monitored by the Open Platform Communications Foundation (OPC Foundation), set up expressly for this purpose.

In the industrial automation sphere, a large amount of data is shared and exchanged. It is important to coordinate the various sources, recipients, and users of the information. The series of specifications that constitute OPC aims to ensure a smooth flow of data among multiple vendors. This also aids coordination when industrial telecommunications involve manufacturers engaging through a range of different devices. The OPC standards set out consistent ways in which field data can be accessed by plant floor devices. This is essential for the quick, convenient and hassle-free transfer of necessary data. Regardless of the type and origin of the data, OPC ensures that the method of access remains consistent. Therefore, a server following OPC standards would require the same mode of operation as any other OPC server, and on any device used by a manufacturer or client.

OPC became highly important and useful since it eliminated the additional work required to coordinate between the tools of the hardware manufacturers and their software partners and clients. OPC can also be written and used for a wide range of software packages. It sets the standard for the ​real-time transfer of data between process hardware and software packages used by OPC clients. While some OPC specifications are only available to OPC Foundation members, the majority of standards are accessible to all users. Therefore, any individual or organization can integrate their telecommunication system with OPC standards. The company must only ensure that their system integrators are trained, in order to ensure their devices are certified and facilitate the integration of the system with OPC.

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