A Generic Plug & Produce System Composed of Semantic OPC UA Skills

Stefan Profanter, Alexander Perzylo, Markus Rickert and Alois Knoll

IEEE Open Journal of the Industrial Electronics Society, 2:128–141

January 2021 · doi:10.1109/OJIES.2021.3055461


Typical industrial workcells are composed of a plenitude of devices from various manufacturers, which rely on their own specific control interfaces. To reduce setup and reconfiguration times, a hardware-agnostic Plug & Produce system is required. In this paper, we present a system architecture that uses generic and semantically augmented OPC UA skills for robots, tools, and other system components. Standardized skill interfaces and parameters facilitate flexible component interchange and automatic parametrization with a focus on reusability of skills across different platforms and domains. The hierarchical composition of such skills allows for additional abstraction through the grouping of functionalities. Through the extension of OPC UA discovery services, available skills are dynamically detected whenever a manufacturing system's component is updated. The introduced Plug & Produce system is evaluated in multiple industrial workcells composed of robots, tool changer, electric parallel gripper, and vacuum gripper - all controlled via the proposed OPC UA skill interface. The evaluation of our system architecture demonstrates the applicability of the Plug & Produce concept in the domain of robot-based industrial assembly. Although it is necessary to adapt existing hardware to comply with the semantic skill concept, the initial one-time effort yields reoccurring efficiency gains during system reconfiguration. In particular, small lot production benefits from reduced changeover times.