Frequently Asked Questions
Browse through these Frequently Asked Questions to find answers about UniversalAutomation.Org
The IEC 61499 standard defines interoperability at the application level and does not specify any communication protocol. The IEC 61499 runtime shared by UniversalAutomation.Org already has an OPC UA stack implemented. The initiatives of UniversalAutomation.Org and the OPC Foundation are complementary.
IEC 61499 allows one or multiple applications to be run on one resource/device or distributed to multiple resource/devices. If an application is split and distributed to multiple resource/devices, all cross communications between the application’s FB’s on different resources/devices are automatically re-created & managed by the UAO runtime. This is what we mean by application interoperability – the ability to split connected FB’s in an application and have them interoperate across the different resource/devices to which they are distributed.
UniversalAutomation.org current members include a diverse group of industrial leaders and pioneers – including IT, OT and software vendors, end users, systems integrators, OEMs, start-ups and higher education institutions.
Members develop and adopt the next generation of universal automation solutions—software components that bring unique values to users, based on the IEC 61499 standard. They also increment a shared runtime and champion its use. Members have access and the ability to shape the runtime implementation. Applications for membership are open to all, everyone is encouraged to join.
>> Current list of members
UniversalAutomation.Org has been formed by a diverse group of industrial leaders and pioneers who have joined together to advance the world of industrial automation. For the first time, IT, OT and software vendors, end users, systems integrators, OEMs, start-ups and higher education institutions will share a common automation software layer across their products and solutions—regardless of brand. This new level of shared technology provides the basis for an ecosystem of portable, interoperable, “plug and produce” solutions and creates an entirely new category within industrial automation. UniversalAutomation.Org members will develop interoperable and portable automation software - based on the IEC 61499 standard - that can run with almost any hardware, creating an entirely vendor-agnostic ecosystem for automation software development. By merging both the information technology and operational technology worlds and sharing a technology reference implementation, the organization seeks to unleash the full potential of Industry 4.0.
Current industrial automation system architecture has done a good job of advancing industry to where we are today. However, “open automation” as it exists today is not enough. Industry-wide adoption of universal automation will ensure next-generation software applications are interoperable and portable. We have already seen other industries thrive from adopting interoperability, including the IT, energy, and telecoms spaces, and the time is now to ensure we don’t stay behind. Our industry has long been on the edge of disruption, attempting to fulfil the promise of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Today, the current health emergency along with ever-changing global market dynamics have underlined the need for resilience and agility, which can only come from digitization that includes interoperable industrial automation applications. It is time to embrace interoperability and abandon proprietary systems to meet today’s and tomorrow’s demands. We intend to give industrial enterprises the ability to choose best-of-breed solutions that suit their unique needs and effectively address modern challenges. Today, we must come together and innovate to drive sustainable and long-lasting positive change for our industries.
UniversalAutomation.Org is a complementary partner to the other initiatives aiming at a more open automation world. UniversalAutomation.Org is not creating a new standard. UniversalAutomation.org is managing a reference runtime implementation of the IEC 61499 standard on a shared source basis.
Current industrial automation system architecture has done a good job of advancing industry to where we are today but “open automation” as it exists today is not enough. Industry-wide adoption of universal automation will ensure next-generation software applications are interoperable and portable. The IEC 61499 standard extends and enhances the IEC 61131-3 standard. It solves the problems of ensuring portability, configurability, and interoperability of application software across vendors and, at the same time, permits software and hardware independence. It allows a seamless integration with the IT layer and an easy distribution of control logic. The IEC 61499 standard is a technological enabler for a “plug and produce” approach to industrial automation. Adoption of a shared automation layer, common across vendors, will provide limitless opportunities for growth and modernization across industry. The confluence of digitization and the IEC 61499 standard now make it possible for such open systems to be easily and effectively deployed.
Yes. Universal automation and open industrial standards are fundamentally necessary to fulfil the promise of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The pressure to adopt open automation is mounting for stakeholders across all corners of industry. End users are beginning to see proprietary automation systems as a barrier to growth and an unnecessary cost, rather than an enabler and source of profit. Many organizations recognize that next-generation industrial automation must be interoperable and break free from the proprietary closed model we have now. A few examples are: Open Process Automation Forum, NAMUR, and OPC Foundation. Moving from a proprietary world to universal automation not only benefits end users but it also gives those willing to innovate an edge in the race for new value built on software innovation. Universal automation will create a market for proven-in-use software components that bring unique values to users and new revenues for vendors. The industry realizes that working to the same, open standards is fundamental to progress. Our ecosystem, from supply chain through manufacturing and production to the end customer, recognizes the need to fully embrace interoperable implementations.
Yes. Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Automation Expert is built on the UnviersalAutomation.Org runtime and is already available today for you to test and try out. With the creation of UniversalAutomation.Org, products from other vendors embedding the UniversalAutomation.org runtime are already in prototype stage and will be commercialized in the coming months.