Web-based Communication in Automation (WebCom)
Interoperability has become a key factor in modern automation systems. In this context, the OPC standards provided by the OPC foundation are most prominent. While classical DCOM based specifications like OPC Data Access (DA) are dedicated to Windows based systems, the upcoming OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA) specification provides platform-independence thanks to the use of Web-based technologies. Moreover it also includes a meta model guaranteeing interoperability not only on the rotocol level but also regarding the semantics of exchanged data.
The resulting increased complexity of OPC UA is an entry barrier for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Therefore, the EraSME project ”Web-based Communication in Automation” (WebCom) has been initiated. The main goals of WebCom are to thoroughly analyze the OPC UA specification and to provide concentrated information for SMEs. This includes evaluating OPC UA and comparing it with alternative approaches as well as providing guidelines and enhanced information models for its use. Additionally, laboratories will be set up that allow a distributed interoperability testing over the Internet. On the road of the project, all tasks shall be solved in close cooperation between SMEs and participating Research and Development Organizations (RTOs).
WebCom is a transnational R&D project. The participating countries involved are Belgium/Flanders and Austria. Each country is represented by an RTO and several SMEs. The Belgium/Flanders project consortium consists of Artesis University College of Antwerp and several SMEs (vendors, system integrators, system developers, consultants). The Austrian consortium is represented by the Automation Systems Group of the Vienna University of Technology as well as by the two SMEs HB-Softsolution and NETxAutomation.