Industry 4.0, or Industrie 4.0, is a movement that has great impact on the world of industrial automation. It is about software. And so is PLCopen.
Basically Industry 4.0 consists of two main items: the RAMI model and the Asset Administration Shell. In the RAMI model the standard PLCopen functionalities fit very well and so PLCopen focuses on the Asset Administration Shell, AAS. And in this shell PLCopen adds their functionalities also.
PLCopen has defined many software functionalities via the definition of Function Block Libraries, like done for Motion Control, Safety, and for Communication over OPC UA. These PLCopen specifications provide a well-defined suite of functionalities, covering the basic range. In addition PLCopen defined a framework related to the definition of function blocks with a focus to the create user defined libraries. In this way one can encapsulate larger functionalities and provide higher levels of integration. This helps the engineering of a new machine more easily and to provide a better decomposition and reusable structure in the software development, making it easier to maintain and add new wishes.
In order to be able to access these functionalities in AAS and make it available to the application running on the controller, PLCopen is defining a set of Function Blocks. In this way the programmer can access the relevant information in a harmonized way.
In addition, PLCopen is working on a document showing the integration of PLCopen and PackML via the PLCopen OPC UA profile. Following some basic rules for the application development, it will become much easier to interface to a machine in a harmonized way and to integrate machines in production lines in a standardized way, based on OMAC PackML state machine, modes, and Packtags. With the combination of the OPC UA functionality for browsing, one can even search for new functionalities and add them as the basis for a new application program more easily.