Automation Standard Leaders OMAC, OPC Foundation and PLCopen Work Together to Advance Industrial Internet of Things

Contact: Brent Meyer

For Immediate Release

Automation Standard Leaders OMAC, OPC Foundation and PLCopen
Work Together to Advance Industrial Internet of Things

  • Learn more at PACK EXPO International, November 6-9, McCormick Place, Chicago, IL.
  • OMAC (booth N-4800), OPC Foundation (booth N-4702) and PLCopen (booth N-4703)

Reston, VA – The Organization for Machine Automation and Control (OMAC), OPC Foundation, and PLCopen are working together to help advance communications protocols necessary for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to succeed. The three organizations are in the forefront of developing and promoting common standards to improve manufacturing efficiency, but until now have been working in parallel on different aspects of automation standardization.

Interoperability between devices and machines that use different protocols is a significant challenge in realizing the full potential offered by the Industrial Internet of Things. By collaborating on companion specifications to the standards and protocols they’ve already developed OMAC, OPC Foundation, and PLCopen can advance the quality and efficiency of data sharing and communication at the machine and production line and up through the enterprise. Collaborative efforts by standards organizations, such as OMAC, OPC Foundation, and PLCopen, align with the Industrial Internet Consortium’s goal to ultimately identify and define building blocks for interoperability that make smart factories and IIoT possible.

“Standards are needed to support communications from machine-to-machine and from the plant floor to interfaces that will allow large scale data analytics and information transfer,” says John Kowal, a member of OMAC’s Board of Directors, co-chair of the Industrial Internet Consortium’s Smart Factory Task Group, and business development director for B&R Industrial Automation Corp. “It just makes sense for these organizations which have individually done so much to advance automated manufacturing to collaborate and avoid redundant developments.”

Here’s how the three automation standards leaders are bringing their efforts together. One of OMAC’s major initiatives has been promotion of the ISA-TR88.00.02 automation standard commonly known as PackML. The second generation was released last year. Manufacturers and machine builders worldwide have implemented ISA-TR88 on various control platforms to increase speed to production, ease packaging line integration and improve reliability. While PackML defines machine modes, states and tag naming conventions, it does not specify a communications protocol.

The OPC Foundation’s Unified Architecture (OPC UA) is an industrial interoperability framework. It delivers information modeling with integrated security, access rights, and all communication layers to provide plug and play machine-to-machine (M2M) communication inside factories. It is scalable across the plant floor and from sensor to IT enterprise and cloud scenarios. OPC and PLCopen recently worked together to define a set of function blocks to map the IEC 61131-3 global standard for industrial controls programming to the OPC UA information communication model. The latest version was released earlier this year. IEC 61131-3 is the only global standard for industrial control programming and is recommended by OMAC in its Packaging Guidelines document.

To take their efforts to the next level, OMAC and the OPC Foundation have established a taskforce to develop a companion specification for ISA-TR88/PackML and OPC UA by the end of 2016. The task force led by Sari Germanos, open automation manager for B&R Industrial Automation, includes members of OMAC and OPC Foundation from around the world. Participation is open to interested members of either organization.

“A standard communication protocol, used consistently across the industry, is vital for realizing the full benefits of automation standards such as ISA-TR88, which then can be a valuable data source for smart factories and the IIoT,” says Dr. Bryan Griffen, OMAC Chairman and Nestlé Group Engineering Manager. “A companion specification between ISA TR88 and OPC UA fills this need and builds on the work completed with PLCopen earlier this year. The opportunities to transform manufacturing as hardware and software solutions are integrated through consistently applied, standardized protocols are extraordinary. We’re pleased to be a part of those efforts worldwide.”

“Today, there is more reason than ever to believe that communications standards will proliferate, as the IIoT drives the need to flatten network communication architectures,” says OPC Foundation Director Thomas Burke. “Along with organizations like OMAC and PLCopen, we’re actively engaged to do just that.”

“By collaborating and ensuring the standards we’ve developed work together we ensure transparent and fully secured communication right out of the box with standardized access between any OPC client and server via a secure channel, independent from network architecture and protocol or machine type and controls,” says PLCopen Managing Director Eelco van der Wal.

OMAC, OPC Foundation and PLCopen Exhibiting Together at PACK EXPO International
For the first time, OMAC, OPC Foundation and PLCopen will exhibit adjacent to each other at PACK EXPO International in Chicago November 6-9 at McCormick Place. Each organization is an official PACK EXPO International partner for 2016. OMAC will be in booth N-4800. OPC Foundation will be in booth N-4702. PLCopen will be in booth N-4703.
In an Innovation Stage presentation on Monday, November 7 at 3:00 pm in N-4560, OMAC will discuss PackML, PackSpec 2, and the Industrial Internet of Things. In their booth, OMAC will showcase applications of PackML by members. OMAC members will also be available to discuss productivity enhancements from implementing PackML, Pack Tags, and PackSpec guidelines.

The OMAC Packaging Workgroup will also hold a general meeting at PACK EXPO on Tuesday afternoon, November 8, 2-3 pm (U.S. Central time) in Room S502B for interested PACK EXPO attendees.  OPW Chairman Uwe Keiter will discuss the OMAC OPC UA Companion Specifications and other organizational activities.

About OMAC
The Organization for Machine Automation and Control (OMAC) helps manufacturers and suppliers work together to identify new and innovative ways to increase the effectiveness of their production operations. OMAC brings together leading End-User Manufacturers, OEM Machine Builders, System Integrators, Technology Providers, and Non-Profit / Government Agency organizations to address issues that confront global manufacturing today. OMAC’s two working groups, Packaging and Manufacturing, lead the way in producing industry consensus guidelines that help manufacturers reduce their delivery times, be more efficient with available resources, and increase profitability.  More information is available at

About OPC Foundation
The OPC Foundation is the leading global community for developing and promoting interoperability solutions based on OPC communication specifications. OPC UA is a standard for the secure, reliable and platform-independent exchange of information. OPC UA technology is used extensively to integrate information in industrial automation and to facilitate data transfer from the smallest sensor and line devices into enterprise IT. An OPC certification program guarantees immediate operational readiness of OPC products in real-life applications. The OPC Foundation has nearly 450 members who promote global training, awareness and adoption of OPC specifications. More information is available at

About PLCopen
PLCopen, founded in 1992, is an independent, worldwide member-based organization focused on improving efficiency and reducing costs in industrial automation. As such it is creating a higher efficiency in your application software development and lowering your life-cycle costs. With publicly available results in Motion Control, Safety, Exchange, and Coding Guidelines, PLCopen made solid contributions to the community, extending the hardware independence from the software code, as well as reusability of the code and coupling to external software tools. More information is available