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EtherCAT Technology Group and OPC Foundation partnership to focus on common interfaces for Industrie 4.0 and IoT

The EtherCAT Technology Group (ETG) and the OPC Foundation have entered
into a partnership to define common interfaces for Industrie 4.0 and the
Internet of Things (IoT).

According to the Memorandum of Understanding signed at Hannover Messe
2015, both organisations have agreed that their technologies complement one
another perfectly. While EtherCAT as the real-time-capable Ethernet fieldbus
for machine and plant controls leverages the EtherCAT Automation Protocol (EAP)
for lean data exchange between masters, OPC UA as a platform for scalable
communication with integrated Security by Design, enables encrypted data
transfer up to MES/ERP systems and into the cloud.

Industrie 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 through the MoU with the
common definition of open interfaces between both of their technologies. The
two organisations will also develop these interfaces in close cooperation,
rather than focusing on their own technology extensions into the core area of
the other.

Martin Rostan, Executive Director of the EtherCAT Technology Group, and
Thomas J. Burke, President and Executive Director of the OPC Foundation, signed
the MoU at the Hannover Messe 2015 trade show.

According to Martin Rostan, the agreement helps create the prerequisites
to integrate EtherCAT systems consistently into Industrie 4.0 and IoT
architectures. The ETG Technical Committee had decided in October 2014 that OPC
UA would be their choice for the connection with cloud systems and the IT
world. The ETG now looks forward to collaborating in the creation of
mutually-beneficial definitions of the common interfaces.

Thomas Burke comments that EtherCAT is one of the leading technologies
on the field level and provides an ideal complement to OPC’s functionality. He
adds that OPC UA seeks to enable the consistent, safe, and scalable
communication of fieldbus systems into the IT world. The common development of
interfaces between the two technologies is expected to lead to quick and
practice-oriented results.

BECKHOFF Automation is part of the EtherCAT
Technology Group.

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