Analysts say OPC UA over TSN finally creates a single, universal solution for industrial networks

Mar 27, 2019

ARC Advisory Group has issued a brief entitled "How OPC UA and TSN are Driving the Creation of a Universal Industrial Network," documenting the long-awaited introduction of a unified, interoperable, standardized industrial Ethernet.

According to B&R, by itself, the announcement of OPC UA (Open Platform Communications – Unified Architecture) over TSN (Time-Sensitive Networking) may seem like just another flavor of industrial Ethernet but it is much more as it is the standardized industrial Ethernet with deterministic fieldbus attributes that failed to emerge from the mid-1990’s ‘fieldbus wars.’

Automation users and technology providers for decades have been forced to support multiple networks and limit their automation networks to non-interoperable protocols. 

As TSN has emerged as an IEEE 802.1 standards based industrial Ethernet technology capable of providing the time synchronization required for critical automation processes such as motion, safety and robotics. Simply migrating all the fieldbus protocols to TSN does not provide the interoperability required of emerging IIoT integration.

Now, competing automation technology providers came to the conclusion that the OPC Foundation, with its track record for opening data communications on the factory floor could provide the ideal organization for delivering an interoperable networking standard to automation users.

The ARC report contends, in addition to the suppliers, it will take the involvement of automation users, machine builders and industry consortia like VDMA and OMAC to develop companion specifications for machines and processes. Likewise, the report foresees a generational transition period that needs to begin now.

B&R Industrial Automation sponsored this ARC Brief while the opinions and observations stated in this report are those of ARC Advisory Group.