EtherCAT Technology Group and OPC Foundation focus on Industrie 4.0 and IoT

The EtherCAT Technology Group (ETG) and the OPC Foundation have signed a memorandum of understanding at the Hannover Messe 2015 to define common interfaces for Industrie 4.0 and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Both organisations agree that their technologies complement one another: EtherCAT as the real-time-capable Ethernet fieldbus for machine and plant controls, leveraging the EtherCAT Automation Protocol (EAP) for data exchange, and OPC UA is a platform for scalable communication with integrated Security by Design, enabling 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 within the digital factory, and through cloud-based services and other Internet technologies. The ETG and the OPC Foundation seeks to achieve these requirements with the common definition of open interfaces between both of their technologies.

The organisations have agreed to develop these interfaces in close co-operation.

Martin Rostan, executive director of the EtherCAT Technology Group said: "With this agreement, we create the prerequisites to integrate EtherCAT systems consistently into Industrie 4.0 and IoT architectures. Within the ETG Technical Committee, we decided in October 2014 that OPC UA is our choice for the connection with cloud systems and the IT world. Development thus far has proved this to be the correct choice, and we look forward to collaborating in the creation of mutually-beneficial definitions of the common interfaces".

Thomas J. Burke, president and executive director of the OPC Foundation, added: "EtherCAT is one of the leading technologies on the field level and provides an ideal complement to our functionality. OPC UA is not a competitor of fieldbuses; it seeks to enable the consistent, safe, and scalable communication of such systems into the IT world. Thanks to the common development of interfaces between both our associations, we expect quick and practice-oriented results".