According to a press release, both organizations agree that their respective communication technologies complement one another for this task: EtherCAT as the real-time capable Ethernet fieldbus for machine and plant controls, leveraging the EtherCAT Automation Protocol (EAP) for lean data exchange between masters, and OPC UA as a platform for scalable communication with integrated Security by Design, enabling encrypted data transfer up to MES/ERP systems and into the cloud.
Industry 4.0 and IoT demand seamless and continuous communication through all layers and levels within the digital factory, as well as externally through cloud-based services and other Internet technologies. The ETG and the OPC Foundation seek to achieve these requirements with the common definition of open interfaces between both of their technologies.
For this reason, the organizations agreed to develop these interfaces in close cooperation, rather than focusing on their own technology extensions into the core area of the other.
“With this agreement, we create the prerequisites to integrate EtherCAT systems consistently into Industry 4.0 and IoT architectures," says Martin Rostan, executive director of the EtherCAT Technology Group. "Within the ETG Technical Committee, we decided in October 2014 that OPC UA is our choice for the connection with cloud systems and the IT world. Development thus far has proved this to be the correct choice, and we look forward to collaborating in the creation of mutually-beneficial definitions of the common interfaces."
“EtherCAT is one of the leading technologies on the field level and provides an ideal complement to our functionality," says Thomas J. Burke, president and executive director of the OPC Foundation. "OPC UA is not a competitor of fieldbuses; it seeks to enable the consistent, safe, and scalable communication of such systems into the IT world. Thanks to the common development of interfaces between both our associations, we expect quick and practice-oriented results which, of course, we will all welcome.”