OPC Router already includes a wide range of features that you may already be taking advantage of. You're likely also aware that OPC Router is regularly updated to add additional useful features and tools, and to resolve any known issues, as part of its continuous improvement process.
In this post, I will cover new features and enhancements available in OPC Router V4.27 including:
- New plug-in for OPC UA Pub/Sub (Publish/Subscribe) for expanded OPC UA functionality with a new efficient method for transferring data
- Support for the OPC UA Cloud Library providing the ability to create and use centralized specifications based on OPC UA Companion Specifications
- Easier Docker container support with an included, ready-configured Docker sample script
The automation industry space is a constantly evolving environment where solutions need to be adaptive and continuously improved to meet the needs of companies and processes in every industry. To that purpose, OPC Router follows a continuous improvement process to maintain the greatest compatibility for users utilizing the latest technologies and to stay current with changes in the market.
Going further than just the list of features you'll find in the release history for OPC Router, I'd like to cover the key features in more detail to help you understand where and how they might benefit you with your OPC Router projects.
OPC UA Pub/Sub Plug-in – OPC data transfer in a new way
The latest OPC Router now supports OPC UA Pub/Sub (Publish/Subscribe), which completes the manner in which communication partners interact with OPC Router using the OPC standards. OPC UA Pub/Sub does not follow the traditional client/server communication architecture as OPC UA does with 1-to-1 connections (and as OPC Classic clients/servers implement).
With OPC UA Pub/Sub, the communication partners (i.e. the OPC UA clients and servers) are classified as publishers and subscribers. The publishers can send without a connection to a Client and the subscribers receive sent messages in an unsolicited, report-by-exception type update.
With this architecture, less complex and more efficient communication can be achieved by decoupling sender and receiver. N-to-M relationships between multiple publishers and subscribers are possible through the Companion Specification strategy in communication.
Pub/Sub communication primarily aims at two target scenarios. Namely, close-to-machine and close-to-device communication situations. For the first time, Pub/Sub can be used to establish real-time OPC communication that can also be implemented by devices with lower computing resources than a traditional server machine would.
On the other hand, Pub/Sub communication is very common in the cloud and IoT sector. Due to the
very simple structure of the communication channel (for example with an MQTT substructure), a simple connection of cloud platforms is possible since Pub/Sub is utilizes much less bandwidth by nature.
The OPC Router can operate with the new OPC UA Pub/Sub Plug-in as a Publisher and as a Subscriber. Due to the modular nature of the OPC Router, all other plug-ins can also be operated in conjunction with the OPC UA Pub/Sub plug-in and therefore “publish” and “subscribe” data from any of the other interfaces supported by OPC Router.
UA Cloud Library – Using and creating centralized OPC UA Companion Specifications
The developer of OPC Router, inray Industriesoftware GmbH, actively participated in the working group of the OPC Foundation for the new UA Cloud Library Initiative. The UA Cloud Library is a
central library where, among other things, the technical definitions of the OPC UA Companion Specifications are available for download. This is ideal for software clients that can load, implement and provide the corresponding specifications for operational use.
With the Version 4.27 implementation of the Cloud Library from the OPC Foundation, OPC Router is one of the first software solutions that can provide a selection of available OPC UA Companion Specifications. After that, the OPC UA Server can be implemented with the Companion Specification with just a few clicks. The data points of the objects contained therein are filled with the visual drag-and-drop graphical workflows that users of OPC Router have come to rely on for straightforward and efficient configuration.
The valuable collaborative work of the many Joint Working Groups, which create the various industry and use-case specific Companion Specifications under the leadership of the OPC Foundation, can now be realized in practice with minimal effort. This greatly expands the flexibility of using OPC Router on projects where industry-specific OPC UA namespaces have been adopted.
And while the OPC Foundation Library is the core offering, the Cloud Library functionality in OPC Router is not limited solely to that library. Via a user-configurable URL, any library can be requested for use with the OPC UA interface of OPC Router. For example, company-owned libraries are the best way to professionally define and distribute structural specifications for large internal OPC UA projects where you have your own defined standards.
This flexibility to add additional libraries further expands the extensibility of the OPC Router on Industry 4.0 initiatives.
Docker Sample Scripts for Easier Access to Exploring Docker Container Technology with OPC Router
And last but not least, you may recall that the previous OPC Router Version 4.26 added the much requested ability to use OPC Router in Docker containers. Feedback thus far on this relatively new capability has been overwhelmingly positive. As such, to further the ability of users interested in Docker containerization initiatives using OPC Router, Version 4.27 now includes ready-configured Docker container scripts. (For more information on Docker, click here.)
This is provided with the goal of simplifying access to the technology, making it possible to easily test OPC Router with Docker containers with minimal installation and configuration for straightforward proof-of-concept testing. Additionally, for those Docker users also either currently using Kubernetes for large scale Docker container deployments or who are interested in using Kubernetes, a ready configured Helm-Chart is available.
These updates, as always, are aimed at enhancing our experience and expanding functionality when using OPC Router to integrate the variety of data sources and destinations on your projects. Don't forget to subscribe to our blog to find out about the latest updates to OPC Router and for how-to videos and other resources on using OPC Router.
Ready to try these new OPC Router features and enhancements with your own systems?