Industry Leaders Band Together to Create UniversalAutomation.org
What is this new organization, and how are industry leaders like Schneider Electric and Yokogawa getting involved?
Who is UniversalAutomation.org?
UniversalAutomation.org (Universal Automation) comprises OEMs, universities, IT and OT software vendors, and industrial end-users. They have all come together with the same goal in mind, to separate industrial automation hardware brands from software.
Video used courtesy of UniversalAutomation.Org
Universal Automation is a not-for-profit group and is independent of any one supplier. They aim to provide a common automation software layer for any automation technology regardless of the manufacture or brand. There is a long list of companies involved in the collective. They range from universities across the globe to hardware manufacturers, and OEM suppliers, etc.
The companies currently involved are global players in many different disciplines of automation, from universities to OEMs, to IT software companies, and even some hardware manufacturers.
The Universal Automation logo. Screenshot used courtesy of Universalautomation.org
All of these institutions will have a hand in developing the future of automation. Below is the list of current universities and companies that have already joined.
- Aalto University
- Eaw Relaistechnik GmbH
- HTW Berlin
- Johannes Kepler University Linz
- Kongsberg Maritime
- Lawrence Technological University
- Lumberg Automation
- Phoenix Contact
- R. Stahl
- VP Process
Overall Goal of the Organization
Automation software has always been driven by hardware. Allen Bradley PLCs can only be programmed by Rockwell Automation software. The same is true with Siemens PLCs that can only be programmed by Siemens software. Having multiple programming software for multiple control platforms causes many issues for OEMs or maintenance staff.
Cross-training on different programming platforms costs money and downtime during production times. Having to maintain software licenses from multiple different suppliers can be costly and inefficient. Until recently, PLCs didn’t have much for cyber security features, mostly because machine and plant networks were always isolated from company networks.
The organization hopes to create portable applications and innovative architectures. Screenshot used courtesy of Universalautomation.org
Universal Automation’s goal is to develop and adopt universal automation solutions as a collective. The group of institutions and companies that have already joined Universal Automation are a wide spectrum of players in the industrial automation hardware, software, and education industries, along with some IT and OT software players.
Future of Automation
With Industry 4.0 and IIoT becoming more popular, manufacturers are requesting factory floor data anytime and anywhere around the world. This requirement is changing how we look at automation software.
The PLC no longer just has to move a servo or command some pneumatic cylinders. PLCs now need to report data to servers, allow multiple connections and remote connections, and send messages to PC programs.
This drive for change requires a universal programming runtime that can interface with any hardware from any brand and has the capability and security that Industry 4.0 and IIoT require.
Other industries have already adapted to different hardware platforms. For example, tablet or mobile phone software needs to run on multiple different hardware platforms. Some computer software is offered for PC or Mac. The commercial software industry is portable, so isn’t it about time the industrial automation software industry becomes portable too?
What do you think about this new organization?