Manufacturing AUTOMATION

OPC Foundation launches ‘OPC UA for AI’ working group for AI-enabled manufacturing solutions

April 22, 2024
By Manufacturing AUTOMATION

The OPC Foundation has formed a new working group focused on leveraging artificial intelligence (AI). According to the organization, this initiative marks a pivotal moment in the convergence of AI and manufacturing, promising to redefine how engineers interact with data and systems to build cutting-edge solutions.

“AI represents a paradigm shift in how we approach engineering tasks; and its integration into the OPC UA framework, opens up a world of possibilities for industrial automation,” said Stefan Hoppe, president of the OPC Foundation. “By establishing this new working group, we are paving the way for AI-powered solutions that will drive efficiency, innovation, and competitiveness in the manufacturing sector.”

With AI becoming increasingly integral to engineering processes, the OPC Foundation recognizes the potential for AI technologies to address or ease complex engineering challenges. Through this working group, the foundation aims to harness AI’s capabilities to streamline various aspects of production, from data analysis to code generation, and to redefine the user interface within manufacturing environments. Having a large list of standardized domain information models defined based on OPC UA, the OPC Foundation sees an easy integration of AI leveraging this standardized data into the industrial landscape. The combination of these technologies will reportedly provide a quick-to-market solution, addressing the needs of the industry.

The working group will focus on several key areas where AI can significantly impact manufacturing processes. Non-exclusive examples for work items are:

  1. Data analysis: Natural language interaction with data, powered by AI, will enable engineers to query and analyze large datasets without needing to learn domain-specific query languages. This approach empowers domain experts to perform custom analytics without the need for a dedicated data science team.
  2. Next-generation user interface: AI-driven interfaces will transform how engineers interact with manufacturing systems. From natural language documentation retrieval to speech-based fault investigation and maintenance procedures, AI will enhance efficiency and enable intuitive interaction with factory equipment.
  3. Code generation and documentation: AI technologies will be explored as tools for generating code, explaining existing code, and converting code between languages, thereby, streamlining engineering workflows and enhancing code quality.

“The potential applications of AI within manufacturing are vast, ranging from improving code efficiency to enhancing fault diagnosis,” says Dr. Holger Kenn, chairperson of the OPC Foundation board of directors. “By collaborating within this working group, industry stakeholders can collectively drive innovation and unlock the full potential of AI within the OPC UA ecosystem.”

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