umati – on its way to becoming the global language of production

umati: universal machine tool interface.
umati: uni­ver­sal machine tool interface.

The VDMA and VDW are join­ing Forces to pro­mote the use and Dis­sem­i­na­tion of OPC UA Stan­dards through­out the mechan­i­cal Engi­neer­ing sec­tor under the umati label.

Cross-indus­try and cross-tech­nol­o­gy mar­ket­ing will take our cus­tomers a sig­nif­i­cant step for­ward,” said Dr. Wil­fried Schäfer, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of the VDW (Ger­man Machine Tool Builders’ Asso­ci­a­tion), explain­ing the strat­e­gy at the asso­ci­a­tions’ joint press con­fer­ence in Frank­furt am Main.

Man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pa­nies have not only machine tools but also their own indi­vid­ual mix of machines, equip­ment, robots and sys­tems. If all these tech­nolo­gies can exist in a com­mon ecosys­tem which is ide­al for pro­duc­ing plug-and-play solu­tions, this will save end users a lot of time and mon­ey,” Schäfer con­tin­ued. Hart­mut Rauen, Deputy Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of the VDMA (Ger­man Engi­neer­ing Fed­er­a­tion), added: “Over 30 spe­cial­ist group­ings in more than 17 asso­ci­a­tions are work­ing on tech­nol­o­gy-spe­cif­ic inter­faces, the “Com­pan­ion Spec­i­fi­ca­tions”. This high lev­el of col­lab­o­ra­tion forms the basis of true, open inter­op­er­abil­i­ty between machines and soft­ware sys­tems, from the shop floor to the cloud. Only the VDMA has the means to unite the nec­es­sary inte­gra­tive forces from the wide range of pro­duc­tion domains.“

OPC UA Com­pan­ion Spec­i­fi­ca­tion for Machin­ery to be pub­lished in 2020

The mechan­i­cal and plant engi­neer­ing sec­tor adopt­ed OPC UA as the stan­dard for data exchange from an ear­ly stage. This is because OPC UA pro­vides a uni­form frame­work for machine and sys­tem inter­op­er­abil­i­ty. Hav­ing adopt­ed a bot­tom-up approach, it became clear how impor­tant it was to have uni­form def­i­n­i­tions for basic ele­ments for a large part of the diverse range of prod­ucts in mechan­i­cal and plant engi­neer­ing. The sim­plest exam­ple is machine iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, includ­ing fea­tures such as man­u­fac­tur­er, ser­i­al num­ber, year of man­u­fac­ture and machine type.

Here, var­i­ous VDMA depart­ments – such as Elec­tri­cal Dri­ve Engi­neer­ing, Plas­tics and Rub­ber Machin­ery, Machine Vision, Met­al­lur­gy, Robot­ics and Machine Tools – are cur­rent­ly draw­ing up the Basic Com­pan­ion Spec­i­fi­ca­tion OPC UA for Machin­ery. “The first ver­sion is sched­uled for pub­li­ca­tion lat­er this year,” announced Hart­mut Rauen.

umati aimed at end customers

The machine tool indus­try was also at the fore­front of this process. An ini­tia­tive to devel­op an open, stan­dard­ised inter­face was pre­sent­ed back in 2017. Here, too, an ear­ly deci­sion was tak­en in favour of OPC UA as the base tech­nol­o­gy. Just two years lat­er, a show­case fea­tur­ing 70 part­ners from ten coun­tries demon­strat­ed at EMO Han­nover that it was pos­si­ble to con­nect 110 machines to 28 soft­ware ser­vices dis­trib­uted across the exhi­bi­tion grounds in a sys­tem which func­tions to all intents and pur­pos­es on a “plug and play” basis. In addi­tion, the VDW launched the umati – uni­ver­sal machine tool inter­face label back in 2018, a brand aimed pri­mar­i­ly at cus­tomers all over the world.

In the mean­time, numer­ous oth­er OPC UA Com­pan­ion Spec­i­fi­ca­tions have been devel­oped by the VDMA and its part­ner organ­i­sa­tions. In order to give these spec­i­fi­ca­tions greater vis­i­bil­i­ty and to increase their usage lev­els, umati is now being extend­ed to cov­er the entire mechan­i­cal and plant engi­neer­ing indus­try as a com­mu­ni­ty for the use and mar­ket­ing of OPC UA Com­pan­ion Specifications.

The new name umatiuni­ver­sal machine tech­nol­o­gy inter­face rep­re­sents a per­for­mance promise of inter­op­er­a­ble pro­duc­tion. umati is a brand and label for a com­mu­ni­ty that has come togeth­er to prop­a­gate the OPC UA stan­dards with­in the mechan­i­cal and plant engi­neer­ing sec­tor. It pro­vides a frame­work for joint mar­ket­ing, pub­lic rela­tions, demon­stra­tion of use cas­es and for end cus­tomer com­mu­ni­ca­tion. It is based on the OPC UA inter­face stan­dard­i­s­a­tion in var­i­ous branch­es of mechan­i­cal and plant engi­neer­ing. “That is why in the future we will always be refer­ring to the lat­est ver­sion of the OPC UA Com­pan­ion Spec­i­fi­ca­tion for Machine Tools“, explains Wil­fried Schäfer from the VDW.

The next steps include fur­ther opti­mi­sa­tion of the rel­e­vant Com­pan­ion Spec­i­fi­ca­tions, dis­sem­i­na­tion of the respec­tive stan­dards, and the stag­ing of show­cas­es at trade fairs. The umati show­cas­es high­light the cross-indus­try use of var­i­ous OPC UA stan­dards in a prac­ti­cal way, aimed at demon­strat­ing the suit­abil­i­ty of OPC UA stan­dards for every­day use in pro­duc­tion to the diverse range of customers.

We expect to see the first con­crete prod­ucts based on the OPC UA Spec­i­fi­ca­tion for Machine Tools pro­vid­ing con­nec­tiv­i­ty to cus­tomers in the sec­ond half of this year,” said Schäfer. “For our part­ners it is there­fore all the more impor­tant that the devel­op­ment of the umati com­mu­ni­ty also adheres to this roadmap in pro­vid­ing clear vis­i­bil­i­ty and rais­ing aware­ness lev­els,” he continued.

The VDW and VDMA have decid­ed to take care of this togeth­er in future. Pro­duc­tion man­agers all over the world must be able to count on machines from any giv­en man­u­fac­tur­er being able to speak the same lan­guage, thus turn­ing the claim of umati – Con­nect­ing the World of Machin­ery, into real­i­ty,” con­clud­ed Rauen.

Con­tacts for fur­ther information

Andreas Faath, VDMA Forum Indus­try 4.0, Tel. +49 69 6603–1495,

Dr. Alexan­der Broos, VDW Research and tech­nol­o­gy, Tel. +49 69 756081–17,

Categories: Allgemein