Beckhoff has been a pioneer in open standards for many years, so that customers can benefit from particularly extensive interoperability between Beckhoff and third-party products. The great commitment in the area of OPC standardization is an essential part of this. Interoperability workshops organized annually by the OPC Foundation, including in Europe, are a central component of the interoperability of many communication systems. This is where specification aspects are tested in practice to increase real interoperability between the OPC UA products of the participating manufacturers.
This means that an interoperability workshop leads to optimization of product development. Changes in the specification are also conceivable if deficits are discovered by different interpretations of the development. Beckhoff is one of the few companies that has its products tested for real interoperability and stability every year in the latest versions and with the latest functions. The findings are then fed into the development and into the specification working groups. At present, Companion Specifications are defined in the different machine construction domains. These are descriptions that contain domain-specific facts, based on the language resources of OPC UA. The reason for this is that an OPC UA client that connects to a machine should be able to understand it as a machine of a particular type by means of the UA representation, regardless of which manufacturer has built the machine.
This means that concrete machine specifications are accessed, rather than a structured list of variables, which is configured differently for each manufacturer. Beckhoff provides comprehensive generic functions in its products. TwinCAT offers an OPC UA interface that meets the corresponding Companion Specifications of the domains. The TwinCAT OPC UA server can load such a description and automatically set up a corresponding namespace. After the customer has carried out a mapping to the symbolism of his PLC program, corresponding live data of the controller is provided according to the Companion Specifications.
The TwinCAT 3 HMI Server is a modular web server that provides the human-machine interface (HMI). It supports all CPU classes from ARM to multi-core. The powerful architecture enables a wide range of application scenarios from local panel solutions to multi-client, multi-server and multi-runtime concepts.
The TwinCAT 3 Scope Server prepares data for the graphical display in the TwinCAT 3 Scope View. It can be used with the Scope View Base or the TE1300 Scope View Professional version. The Scope Server is particularly suitable for autonomous data recording in distributed systems in the production, plant or machine network. It not only has TwinCAT-specific communication interfaces, but also a standardized communication connection via OPC UA.
OPC UA is a platform-independent, service-oriented communication architecture for reliable, secure and multisupplier data transport from the production level to the production planning and ERP system or to the cloud.
The TwinCAT 3 IoT Data Agent provides bi-directional IoT communication functions in the form of a gateway application that can be configured and operated independently from the TwinCAT real-time environment.
The EK9160 Coupler provides direct connectivity for EtherCAT I/Os to the Internet of Things (IoT) without the need for a control program. It converts the E-bus signal representation to different IoT communication protocols and enables in this way the simple and standardised integration of I/O data into cloud-based communication and data services. Neither a controller nor prior programming is necessary. The I/O data transmission can be parameterised in a user-friendly configuration dialog of the integrated web server providing access via any browser. The required cloud services and security functions (authentication, encryption, etc.) can also be conveniently configured using a browser. Following parameterisation, the coupler autonomously transmits the digital or analog I/O values to the cloud service, including timestamp.