Panel Builder System Integrator

July 31, 2019

In cooperation with the OPC Foundation, AIM-D launched a new communication standard for AutoID devices in 2016. At the last SPC IPC Drives in Nuremberg, it became clear that this standard  is being embraced by many device manufacturers across the entire AutoID spectrum. What’s more, customer demand for OPC UA as the communication standard in the industry is also consistently rising.

In 2014, the AIM System Integration working group – motivated by Siemens and HARTING – decided to define a new, forward-looking, technology-independent and manufacturer-independent communication standard for the AutoID industry. Until now, many devices communicated via proprietary interfaces, and there were often various communication standards for various technologies. In other words, regardless of whether it was via barcode or UHF RFID had an impact on the programming of the communication interface of the software to be connected. These circumstances evolved historically.

AutoID the technological base for Industry 4.0

Containers, printed circuit boards, car bodies, hospital beds and much more – today these can all be automatically identified thanks to AutoID technology. This is generally something that happens entirely passively and without maintenance work on the object, making the technology essential in the driving forward of automation in general! With UHF RFID (also known as RAIN RFID), the object itself has a memory. Information like the date of manufacturing and the firmware version of a printed circuit board can be saved directly on the printed circuit board in this example. There is no need for a power supply, accessibility is wireless and updates can be implemented easily.
Today, AutoID technology is a self-explanatory tool for implementing an overall solution, e.g. an automatically functioning warehousing logistics centre. Communication barriers are unwanted! The AutoID technology used for which purpose should also be decided on the basis of the application and not by the communication interface of the AutoID device. Classic communication structures – keyword automation pyramid – are also broken open. Today, an RFID Reader communicates directly with an ERP system and with a control unit on the production line.

Motivated by these ideas and requirements, the AIM working group decided to define a communication interface based on OPC UA. OPC UA is one of the standards for implementing state-of-the-art communication architectures and is also being listed in the RAMI specifications for Industry 4.0 by the government. Moreover, OPC UA is already supported by many control units and software systems. Communication with Automobilhersteller (the Automation Initiative of the German Automotive Industry) together with the VDMA Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbauer (Mechanical Engineering Industry Association) and in cooperation with the OPC Foundation held an OPC UA information day for car manufacturers at Volkswagen in Wolfsburg. This also shows that users of the AutoID technology are demanding OPC UA.

One for all

Meanwhile, the OPC Unified Architecture for AutoID Companion Specification published in 2016 has been integrated into devices by many AutoID manufacturers. As was evident at the OPC Foundation trade fair stand at the SPS IPC Drives in November 2018, barcode, HF and UHF devices are now available with an OPC UA interface. Many different AutoID technologies but one common communication standard! Standard, secure data communication with various devices from different manufacturers is now a reality – and it is based on OPC UA, the future-proof communication standard in the automation industry.

Of course, AutoID devices continue to differ depending on the manufacturer, with all devices having sufficient differentiation options. Only the data exchange is standard across all of them, something that simplifies the integration of AutoID technology. The “inbuilt security”, if used correctly, increases the security of communication, which is accelerating the expansion of automation to Industry 4.0.

However, the work of the System Integration working group did not come to a stop in 2016. The participants continue to work on extending and improving the interface specification. Their tasks here are multi-faceted. A core issue is the simplification of the interface for from the AutoID perspective – simpler application scenarios. The purpose here is to accelerate implementation and interface integration and remove unnecessary obstacles. Thus, simple scanning of an individual object via variables alone is possible in the newest version. Function calls are no longer required and implementation work is reduced to a minimum.

Another important topic is the integration of sensor data. The RAIN RFID technology, in particular, is increasingly being used to transfer sensor values. This enables an object to be uniquely identified, additional data to be read out and written and the current status of the object to be queried. Information on whether the drive is too hot, the body is wet or the container is locked can be directly requested. There is often no need for a battery even – i.e. passively and without additional maintenance work. 
The individual technologies are merging more and more here and classic sensors and AutoID are growing together.

AIM Deutschland also looked at this aspect in 2018 in an additional working group “RFID & Sensors”. The results and recommendations of this working group are, needless to say, being taken into account in the extension of the OPC UA-based interface. There is also an international exchange on the RAIN or AIM North America Association.

The Hannover Messe 2019 saw the introduction of the latest release of the OPC Unified Architecture for AutoID Companion Specification from AIM Deutschland in cooperation with the OPC Foundation. Initial results of the work packages discussed the machine and with the database system in the Cloud is thus simple to implement. OPC UA is the communication standard of the automation industry. There is virtually no provider for this industry and virtually no machine manufacturer that does not already offer an OPC UA interface today.

Thanks to the object-oriented structure, OPC UA was highly suited to the development of a common communication standard for the various AutoID technologies. Commonalities – like a scan method for simple detection of an ID – can thus be defined in higher-level classes. Specific characteristics can be implemented in classes derived from these for the individual AutoID technologies. Thanks to this mechanism and on the basis of the standard, manufacturer-specific updates can be performed without affecting the common basic functionality.

Integrated security

Communication security is another important issue. Isolated communication systems are becoming increasingly rare in production and logistics also. As already explained, the vertical and horizontal integration of AutoID systems is crucial to be able to develop an overall solution. OPC UA already offers diverse integrated security mechanisms and this was also investigated by the Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik (BSI) – the Federal Office for Information Security. The BSI confirmed that OPC UA already offers integral mechanisms for implementing secure data communication. According to the BSI: “OPC UA was developed taking security aspects into account and does not have any systematic security gaps”.
For AutoID systems, this aspect should not be disregarded. Ultimately, complete machines and processes work more or less autonomously on the basis of the data communicated by the AutoID system. 

The topic of security – not just from the perspectives of communication with the control unit or computer system – was rated as important by the members of the AIM association. For this reason, AIM Deutschland founded its own working group “AutoID & Security” in 2018. This working group issues recommendations on how to securely use the AutoID technology. Further information on this working group can be found at

In 2016, AIM Deutschland introduced the new OPC Unified Architecture for AutoID Companion Specification at the Hannover Messe. The first RAIN RFID devices launched on the market by Siemens and HARTING were presented in a demo application at the trade fair stand of the OPC Foundation. Direct communication, e.g. to the Microsoft Azure Cloud, is not a problem. The interface specification is available free of charge upon request from The interface can thus be directly integrated by all control units and backend systems.

OPC UA has become even more important since 2016. The Volkswagen Group's membership of the OPC Foundation in 2018 is testament to the importance placed on OPC UA by one of the key industries in Germany and Europe, the automotive industry. On 21st May 2019, the AIDA Automatisierungsinitiative Deutscher above have already been included here. The System Integration working group is naturally also active beyond the Hannover Messe 2019 in cooperation with the OPC Foundation. For questions on the working groups or the AIM Association, contact

Changing Scene

  • Prev
Hammond Power Solutions (HPS) is proud to announce the release of their newly redesigned website. ...
The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum-Forum Canadien sur l’Apprentissage (CAF-FCA) has announced ...
Intertec Instrumentation is launching a range of tough field enclosures for housing remote I/O and ...
nVent Electric plc recently announced it has signed an agreement to acquire Eldon, a privately held ...
Canada continues to be an excellent performer for HARTING, recording double digit revenue growth on ...
  For the past number of months Proax Technologies Ltd. has been in discussions with ...
  Phoenix Contact Canada is pleased to announce that Roger Hallett has accepted the ...
  Machine designers are required to design safety into more industrial systems than ever. ...
Pilz Canada officially opened their Canadian Facility surrounded by Industry Partners, colleagues ...
Allied Electronics & Automation has announced the addition of the new TM Series of ...

One of Canada’s largest wastewater treatment plants at Annacis Island provides secondary treatment to approximately 175 billion litres of wastewater every year for over 1 million residents in 14 municipalities. After almost 20 years in operation, the variable frequency drives supporting the critical pumping systems for the primary treatment and secondary treatment facilities had to be replaced to ensure that the plant’s high operational availability and reliability will not be compromised in serving the plant, the surrounding municipalities and the environment. Metro Vancouver Regional District chose to deploy Rittal’s enclosure and power distribution solutions with E-plan software to efficiently support vital infrastructure improvements by reducing equipment replacement times and thereby minimizing risk to plant operations.

Emerson’s New Easy-to-deploy Monitoring Accelerates Asset Digitalization

Emerson MonitoringEmerson recently introduced the AMS Asset Monitor edge analytics device, which digitalizes essential asset data and analytics for better operations performance and improved decision making. AMS Asset Monitor provides actionable insights into essential assets that were previously monitored only with infrequent assessments. The new edge analytics device will connect with Emerson’s Plantweb Optics asset performance platform to provide key operations personnel with instant asset health details for operations and maintenance decision making. 



Read More

Printing With Precision – Improving Existing High-Speed Equipment

JAE LogoThe Scenario

A high-speed printing company had partially completed an upgrade to their equipment. The printing machine used two alternating print heads to produce units at a rate of more than 11/s. Due to the nature of the product, speed, accuracy, and repeatability were extremely important. The process needed to be consistent as any defect would impact production further down the line.

To ensure there were no errors, the units would pass through a vision system designed to detect defects and other irregularities. A mechanical reject system would then remove any defected units from the line.

Read More

Important safety considerations for machine shop equipment

OmronIf not properly safeguarded, machine shop equipment is capable of seriously injuring an operator. Lathes, band saws and other simple machines can cut or even sever a finger or a limb. Due to the major potential for harm, it’s essential for manufacturers to comply with all mandated safety standards for the types of machines they employ.

What are the standards?

To get started with machine shop equipment safety compliance, manufacturers can look up the safety standards applicable to their region. In the United States, relevant standards are sorted into the following three categories:

Read More

Cut Startup Costs and Inefficiencies with the Right MAC

RockwellBy Simon McEntee

Reduce Integration Challenges by Embedding an OEM MAC in Your Gas Processing Facility Projects

You’ve been through it before. Just days away from a scheduled plant or platform launch and you’re scrambling to connect OEM skids and at risk of missing your launch deadline.

Almost every oil and gas company has experienced the chaos that comes with trying to finish a start-up in its final days. The good news - this doesn’t have to be your status quo.

 Read More


Product News

  • Prev
Aluminum and copper conductors can be installed quickly, easily, and safely in the new UL-approved ...
You will be impressed by the new TRIO POWER power supplies with IP67 protection from Phoenix ...
4mm (smooth) and 5mm (M5 threaded) round photoelectric sensors are now available from ...
The NITRA pneumatic AC Series of coalescing air filters from AutomationDirect allows finer removal ...
The smallest robot controller in its class, the ultra-compact YRC1000micro minimizes installation ...
Introduced specifically for manufacturers branching out into robotics, the new Smart Series suite ...
Yaskawa Cockpit is a new software platform that monitors, accumulates and visually delivers ...
The next generation of robot programming, Smart Pendant radically changes the way a robot is ...
Ideal for high-speed assembly and handling applications, the GP7, GP8 and GP12 robots are fast, ...
Featuring power and force limiting technology, Yaskawa Motoman’s HC10 and HC10DT robots work safely ...
Kerrwil Publications

538 Elizabeth Street, Midland,Ontario, Canada L4R2A3 +1 705 527 7666
©2019 All rights reserved

Use of this Site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy Policy (effective 1.1.2016)
The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Kerrwil