Bringing Legacy Systems to Industry 4.0

Industrial automation is moving swiftly towards Industry 4.0.  Progressive companies in every sector are merging physical systems, distributed control systems, and virtual digital data into new kinds of cyber-physical systems. Among the technologies enabling this transition is OPC UA, providing secure real-time data communications to pull the pieces together.

OPC UA meets the needs of Industry 4.0 in ways that its predecessor, OPC DA could not.  It can run on any platform, not just Windows.  It has robust network support, a more sophisticated security model, and it is being developed to integrate with many other specialized industrial protocols.  Small wonder that OPC UA is the protocol of choice for many Industry 4.0 projects.

However, there is still a huge installed base of pre-Industry 4.0 legacy equipment and systems out there.  Many of these use the OPC DA protocol for data communication.  A wide range of existing OPC client applications, like HMIs and DCSs, support OPC DA.  On the other hand, many legacy devices connect using OPC DA servers.  This OPC DA-enabled hardware and software will be in place for years to come.

However, OPC DA does not network well, and the recent mandatory application of the KB5004442 security patch from Microsoft makes DCOM even more difficult to get right.

The quickest and most cost-effective way to bring a legacy OPC DA-based system up to Industry 4.0 standard is simply by using a DA/UA software gateway.  This kind of middleware tool can connect an OPC DA server to an OPC UA client.  Or an OPC DA client to an OPC UA server.  Effectively, it provides instant OPC UA connectivity for any OPC DA server or client. 

Moving to Industry 4.0 is a huge undertaking, requiring shifts in attitudes, hardware, systems, and software.  But at least one problem is solved—communicating between OPC DA and UA. Find out about Skkynet’s DataHub OPC Gateway solution.