ODVA is working to enhance the value of EtherNet/IPTM by enabling reliable, secure communications between CIPTM-enabled industrial control system devices and the cloud as well as to enable common cloud gateway and device management tasks. In this context, the cloud can encompass off-premise, on-premise, public, private and hybrid cloud deployments. OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA), one of many industry standard technologies commonly used across all major cloud vendors, has been integrated into leading cloud vendors’ gateway reference architectures, providing for general purpose industrial gateways. The commonality of OPC UA and its extensibility, which will help ODVA realize its vision of the Common Industrial Cloud Interface (CICI), led to the launching of a joint working group with the OPC Foundation to develop an OPC UA companion specification to the Common Industrial Protocol (CIP).

The OPC UA companion specification for CIP will address the challenge of moving industrial communication and control data from the factory floor to the cloud via gateways. Common tasks required for cloud gateway appliance management will be enabled, and CIP devices will have unimpeded access to leading cloud services. Automation devices, programmable controllers, and physical or virtual computers are all included in this effort. Connecting manufacturing process and control data from EtherNet/IP devices to OPC UA servers will enable valuable factory floor information to be made available at the edge and beyond for enterprise wide analysis. The OPC UA companion specification for CIP will leverage the inherent strengths of the Common Industrial Protocol (CIP), EtherNet/IP, and OPC UA.

The OPC UA companion specification for CIP will map CIP objects to the appropriate OPC UA information models and profiles and vice-versa. Sending data to and from the cloud from EtherNet/IP to OPC UA will be accomplished by providing useful information including discovery, identity, diagnostics, status, parameter and much more from CIP devices. Allowing critical automation information to be easily transferred from EtherNet/IP to OPC UA will drastically lower the effort required to enable access from higher level systems, such as Analytics, ERP or MES. The OPC UA companion specification to CIP will ensure that data will be available to Enterprise and IT systems with proper context and semantics (i.e. meaning) for quick trend analysis and insight generation.

A joint working group, composed of members of ODVA and the OPC Foundation, is working to identify critical device to cloud use cases, such as tying warranty costs back to production variations, that will drive the scope of the work to be done. In parallel work to the joint development of the OPC UA companion specification to CIP, CIP and EtherNet/IP will be enhanced by ODVA technical working groups, as needed, to ensure that all of the pertinent data is able to be understood by OPC UA without any additional work needed by end users. Updates or changes to ODVA specifications, including to support new uses cases and requirements uncovered during the definition and prototyping of the OPC UA Companion Specification for CIP, will be made as needed. As a part of its work to create an overall CICI, ODVA is enhancing device and network diagnostics as well as device definitions, including EDS and xDS, in support of those diagnostics. Controller to Controller communication patterns and definitions for representing machines and their data that is valuable for monitoring and maintaining assets are also cloud considerations that ODVA is working to address.

The coordination of ODVA and the OPC Foundation will ensure scalability and interoperability of key device information with critical meaning across the entire enterprise. Specifically, OPC UA servers will be able to map to and expose CIP objects and will have the services to allow establishing a connection and exchanging well-formed messages between OPC UA applications and EtherNet/IP. The end goal is to create an OPC UA companion specification that will map CIP objects to the needed information models and profiles.