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OPC Foundation

The Linking and Embedding for Process Control (OPC) Foundation is an industry consortium that creates and maintains standards for open connectivity of industrial automation devices and systems. The OPC standards specify the communication of industrial process data, alarms and events, historical data and batch process data between sensors, instruments, controllers, software systems, and notification devices.

The OPC Foundation started in 1994[1], as a task force comprised of five industrial automation vendors, with the purpose of creating a basic OLE for Process Control specification. OLE is a technology developed by Microsoft Corporation for the MS Windows operating system. The task force released the OPC standard in August 1996. The OPC Foundation was chartered to continue development of interoperability specifications and includes manufacturers and users of devices, instruments, controllers, software and enterprise systems.

OPC Standards and Specification Groups

OPC Data Access
This group of standards provides specifications for communicating real-time data from data acquisition devices such as PLC's to display and interface devices like Human-Machine Interfaces (HMI). The specifications focus on the continuous communication of data

OPC Alarm and Events
Standards for communicating alarm and event data on demand, as opposed to the continuous communications in the OPC Data Access group

OPC Batch
Standards to address the needs of batch processes

OPC Data eXchange
This group of standards addresses server to server communications across industrial networks. The standards also address remote configuration, diagnostics, monitoring and management communications

OPC Historical Data Access
Standards for communicating stored data

OPC Security
Standards for controlling client access to OPC compliant devices and systems

Builds on thOPC Data Access specifications to communicate data in XML. Incorporates SOAP and Web services

OPC Complex Data
Standards for specifying the communication of complex data types such as binary data and XML documents

OPC Commands
Standards for communicating control commands to devices and systems

OPC Unified Architecture
An entirely new set of standards that incorporates all of the functionality of the above standards (and more), but does so using cross platform web services and other modern technology. OPC Unified Architecture