With the development of automation software and products comes the need for connectivity to data sources, interoperability between industrial applications, and integration of business analytics tools. And of course, a solution that can make this happen. Since its humble beginnings in the mid 1990’s, OPC has been that solution. Formerly Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) for Process Control, Open Platform Communication (or OPC) is an extensively used interoperability standard for industrial automation that allows different automation systems to communicate and consequently has become a common denominator across HMI/SCADA solutions. To develop and maintain the OPC standard, the OPC Foundation was formed to take on this responsibility.

Now, to understand why ICONICS leverages OPC as a competitive advantage, I’d like to tell you a bit about how OPC began, how far it has come since then, and why our customers have also come to depend on this powerful protocol to stay ahead of the competition.

OPC’s Beginning

Up until the 1990’s, industrial automation systems were mostly isolated and proprietary with each software vendor having its own protocols, interfaces, and device drivers. This situation made it extremely challenging to integrate different systems. As a result, end users were usually locked into a single vendor’s solution, limiting their ability to use new technology and products to innovate and optimize their operations. This constraint was especially painful for the manufacturing industry since automation systems are crucial for achieving operational optimization. To get a handle on this issue, the best and the brightest from leading companies such as Intellution, Opto22, Rockwell, and Fisher Rosemont got together with the goal to create a standard for interoperability that would enable different automation systems to share data and seamlessly communicate. They collaborated to write the new standard specifications based on Microsoft’s COM and DCOM technology, which allowed different applications to share data and functionality. Due to the team’s 1995 effort, the first open communication standards were established along with the OPC Foundation.

As you can imagine, OPC quickly gained popularity as an industry standard for both vendors and end users. The first version of the OPC standard, OPC Data Access (OPC DA), was released in 1996 with subsequent versions being released in the years to follow. Soon, other companies including ICONICS joined the OPC Foundation, with ICONICS becoming an influential adopter and major supporter of OPC technology. While others implemented OPC for external connectivity only, ICONICS elected to go much deeper with its support through its “OPC-to-the-Core” philosophy - its strategy to leverage OPC as a distinguishing feature.

ICONICS Continues to Offer the Broadest Range of OPC Support

OPC has matured over its nearly three-decade history, and various specifications have emerged as dominant. While some companies opted to implement just a few specifications, primarily for remote data access, ICONICS chose the most open technological path and leveraged OPC in all areas that aligned with the needs of its rapidly expanding customer base, for both external connectivity and data access within its own products. This strategy provided the most open and flexible architectures to its customers. Today, ICONICS, with its GENESIS64 SCADA platform, offers the broadest range of OPC support among its competitors including OPC Classic technologies such as OPC DA (Data Access), OPC A&E (Alarm and Events), OPC HDA (Historical Data Access), and OPC UA (Unified Architecture) – which is the latest OPC technology.

ICONICS Partners with Takebishi to Deliver DeviceXPlorer OPC Server

With the advent of OPC and companies specializing in device drivers and the bundling of many protocols, ICONICS focused on a key set of tightly integrated core drivers but was always on the lookout for the top server offering the broadest range of connectivity. After the company was acquired by Mitsubishi Electric in 2019, ICONICS partnered with the Takebishi Corporation, an Asian market leader in OPC server technology. In fact, Takebishi has a long history with OPC, having joined the OPC Foundation way back in 1995 and having developed its own OPC Server technology called DeviceXPlorer.

ICONICS & Takebishi DeviceXPlorer – the A-Team in OPC Technology

While ICONICS was already a global brand, the Mitsubishi Electric acquisition positioned ICONICS even more prominently in the Asian markets, setting the path to partner with Takebishi and to globally represent that OPC technology. In 2022, ICONICS became the strategic global partner with Takebishi. With this new partnership, ICONICS can now deliver DeviceXPlorer OPC Server to the world, both with the ICONICS Suite of solutions and as a standalone installation to be used with all other industrial automation products. Both Takebishi, as a leader in communications, and ICONICS, as a technology leader in SCADA, have focused on delivering exceptional OPC support by offering products certified through the OPC Foundation.

ICONICS’ & Takebishi’s Support for OPC Unmatched in Industry

ICONICS’ and Takebishi’s support for OPC is unmatched in the industry. Whereas the GENESIS64 SCADA platform has leveraged OPC as a competitive advantage, this strategy has not been in lieu of other technologies. For example, OPC is coupled with redundancy features in GENESIS64 for high availability applications, and its namespace is coupled with a global ISA-95 compliant asset-based namespace, facilitating object-oriented, rapid configuration. The high performance GENESIS64 infrastructure automatically aggregates data requests from both local applications and remote networked nodes to query OPC servers as efficiently as possible and to avoid unnecessary device polling. There are technologies that compete with OPC for internet applications which include web services, AMQP, and MQTT. However, it is important to note that ICONICS fully supports these technologies as well, including current information models such as Sparkplug B.

ICONICS sees each of these technologies as core technologies to be supported as complementary to OPC for remote data access. In addition, ICONICS’ solutions offer support for publishing data to cloud services and other third-party solutions with these and emerging Internet protocols. All said, ICONICS leverages OPC as a competitive advantage which in turn allows our customers who depend on this powerful protocol to stay ahead of the competition.

Learn more about ICONICS Suite of automation software solutions, including GENESIS64 and its OPC support.