OPC UA for Machinery


In the "OPC UA for Machinery" Companion Specification all basic information models resulting from the work of all OPC UA working groups are combined.

The mechanical and plant engineering industry makes great efforts to create information models in OPC UA. As the central host, the VDMA coordinates the activities of around 30 working groups that define a common, cross-sectoral language between machines and systems with the OPC UA Companion Specifications. As a result of this cooperation, it quickly became clear that basic information and functions are needed in almost all of these groups. It was therefore decided to develop and publish a specification called "OPC UA for Machinery". This specification will unify all resulting basic information models.


The "OPC UA for Machinery" specification is divided into several parts. Each part will consist of some addressed functions or use cases. These are summarized in so-called Building Blocks. Selected Building Blocks can be used both in implementations of sector-specific companion specifications and in implementations without existing companion specifications.


The work on "OPC UA for Machinery" is coordinated by the VDMA. The editor of this group is Dr. Wolfgang Mahnke. He is an expert for OPC UA and leads the harmonization of the OPC Foundation. Since the "OPC UA for Machinery" specification is the harmonization for the machine building industry and is also a part of the specification library of the OPC Foundation, it is especially important to consider the big picture.


This Companion Specification is aimed at machines and machine components that are used in discrete manufacturing in mechanical and plant engineering.

Here, "machine" means any device that converts energy (e.g. electricity, steam, gas, human power, pressure) into mechanical movements, heat, electrical signals, pressure, etc. to perform a specific task in an industrial scenario.

are non-exclusive examples:

a. Machines according to ISO 12100:2010,3.1 ("assembly, fitted with or intended to be fitted with a drive system consisting of linked parts or components, at least one of which moves, and which are joined together for a specific application"), z.e.g. machine tools, injection moulding machines, woodworking machines, packaging machines

b. accessories and auxiliary equipment, e.g. interchangeable equipment, load handling attachments, partly completed machinery

c. Devices and modules for the process industry, e.g. furnaces, power plants

d. Control systems for machines as in a), measuring, analysis and test equipment

e. Equipment consisting of several units of a)-d)

A " component of a machine" is a part of a machine which is not itself a machine.

Non-exclusive examples are drives, valves, safety devices.



The "OPC UA for Machinery" specification will include various Building Blocks for Machinery that address use cases for different types of machines described in various industry specific Companion Specifications. The first use cases covered in Part 1 are:

  • Identification and nameplate of machines
  • Finding all machines in the server

The intention of the working group is not to define a single information model, but to continuously work on generalized concepts in the field of mechanical engineering in order to harmonize the application of OPC UA in the context of the mechanical engineering industry.


Procedure and working method

The mode of operation when creating "OPC UA for Machinery" is different from the usual procedure found in industry-specific Companion Specifications. First, a group of experts prepares a draft for each building block in the so-called core working group. The expert group is composed of specialists from various industries who have a high level of expertise in both OPC UA and mechanical engineering, especially for the addressed topic. At regular intervals, the draft prepared by the core working group is compared with the members of the overall working group. All members of the VDMA and the OPC Foundation are entitled to participate in the overall working group. As soon as the developed draft has reached a certain degree of maturity, the document is passed on to the OPC UA working groups of the VDMA for review. Only after the comments submitted in the VDMA internal review process have been processed, a Release Candidate will be given into the public objection phase.


Part I published

The development of the first building blocks is now completed. These have been published in the form of a Part I and are now available for comment. The first two use cases covered are:

- Identification and nameplate of machines

- Finding all machines in the server

In order to identify the next needed use cases and further requirements, feedback was gathered from the OPC UA working groups of the mechanical and plant engineering and manufacturing industries as well as the Industry 4.0 community. These were collected and evaluated to create a plan of action for the next topics to be defined. The work will continue seamlessly, so that by the end of the project, more Building Blocks will be published in additional Parts. The following use cases were identified as next topics:

  • Identification and nameplate of components
  • Machine status


Comments are possible until September 1, 2020

The draft of "OPC UA for Machinery" Part I has been made freely available in the database of the VDMA, and comments can be made on this draft until 01.09.2020. The comments received will be processed in a so-called objection consultation after expiry of the comment period.

▶︎ OPC UA for Machinery - Part I