The aim of this initiative is to develop an interface standard that will make it much easier and cheaper for companies to push forward connectivity for their machines. Because connectivity is the key to all added value and to the business models that the mechanical engineering sector is expecting Industry 4.0 to deliver. Since the start of this year, all participants have attended workshops and meetings on almost a weekly basis.
Global recognition as IoT language
From a technical and scientific perspective, the project is supported by the Institute for Control Technology of Machine Tools and Manufacturing Units (ISW) at the University of Stuttgart. The scientists at ISW are among the leading experts in industrial control technology – especially for machine tools – and have made a name for themselves internationally by developing standards and solutions, especially in the Open Platform Communications Unified Architecture (OPC-UA) environment. OPC-UA means a collection of standards for communication and data exchange in the industrial automation environment. UMATI and OPC-UA have now become established as the IoT (Internet of Things) language for mechanical engineering.
Although started initially as a purely German working group, the VDW industry initiative is now considered an international project, since only internationally harmonized standards can be accepted. Talks are currently underway with American, Chinese and Japanese partners with a view to agreeing an internationally valid interface standard.
GROB – pacesetter in digitalization
"UMATI is an interesting initiative for GROB as well," explains Markus Frank, Head of the GROB-NET4Industry (Digitalization) Department. "Together with other partners and competitors, what we are creating here is a new industry standard for machine tool construction that is set to go beyond European borders." In doing so, GROB is effectively driving digitalization to allow customers to optimize their processes, machines and systems in a simple manner without having to overcome any IT hurdles. The aim is to provide an "Industry USB stick" containing harmonized data semantics. "Although our customers have heterogeneous machinery, this does need to be maintained, optimized and reported," says Frank, explaining the procedure at GROB. "We will achieve this vision through the technical implementation in the OPC-UA environment and UMATI data semantics."