Frequently Asked Questions

Browse through these Frequently Asked Questions to find answers about


Who are the members? How they benefit? current members include a diverse group of industrial leaders and pioneers – including hardware & software technologyvendors, 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

What does aim to accomplish? 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, hardware & software technology 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. 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. 

Why is needed now?

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. 

What is the difference between and other industrial standardization bodies? is a complementary partner to the other initiatives aiming at a more open automation world. is not creating a new standard. is managing a reference runtime implementation of the IEC 61499 standard on a shared source basis. 

Both and the OPC Foundation promote interoperability. What is the difference?

The IEC 61499 standard defines interoperability at the application level and does not specify any communication protocol.

The IEC 61499 runtime shared by already has an OPC UA stack implemented. The initiatives of and the OPC Foundation are complementary.

What is interoperability at the application level?

IEC61499_modelsIEC 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. 

Market benefits

How can the market benefit from the IEC 61499 standard?

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 independenceIt 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. 

Does the IEC 61499 standard and open automation have industry backing?

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. 


Do products / solutions using the principle of universal automation exist already?
Can the runtime execution engine run in an containerized version (eg. on a server…)?

For sure, the runtime is suitable to be ran in a container which could run for example on a server.

A ready-made version already exists (see Soft dPAC from Schneider Electric) and others will be soon developed by the vendor members.

What is the difference between the Linux based platform and a UAO-Runtime? Why do I need this technology?

Linux-based platforms and UAO are solving different problems.

The Linux-based automation platforms allow the User to do real-time control applications as well as run other applications using other programming languages like C++ or Python on the same computer platform. Although they are Linux-based, they remain proprietary because they implement proprietary techniques to guarantee real-time performance and determinism, namely real-time OS patches and standardized data layer access (including IO access) for all applications. So applications cannot be ported from one Linux platform to another one without significant rework and retest.

UAO provides a runtime execution engine for an event/data-based system environment (based on IEC 61499). The objective is to enable plug & produce applications that are independent of the hardware platform on which they execute. In other words, users can build applications using libraries of vendor-independent UAO software components, plugging them together using the event-data interface, and distributing the complete application to one or multiple Universal Automation controllers. The same application can be deployed to different platforms with no rework except for connecting the “logical” IO to the real physical IO of the new platform.

The two approaches are complimentary. UAO is available on several Linux-based platforms.

Who is liable for service and support in the event of an issue with a Universal Automation platform?

When a vendor joins UAO, it is his responsibility to verify and validate the offer that he launches on the market. And he is responsible to support his offer.

When it comes to project support, it is up to the application system integrator to guarantee and support the application for the user. In the event of issues with the UAO platform, the system integrator will rely on the UAO platform vendor for support. In the event that the issues are with the UAO runtime itself, the vendor will turn to UAO for support to resolve the issue if he is not able to resolve himself..

This approach is not new – many automation PLC vendors use 3rd party software products for their IEC 61131 software, and most project applications are provided by independent system integrators.