Universal Robots A/S today announced that Rocketfarm AS has developed software enabling its UR collaborative robots to support the OPC Unified Architecture, an industry-standard communications protocol.
“We initially developed the software for a local factory but thought it would be great if this functionality could be available for anyone who wants to connect UR robots with OPC UA,” stated Egil Mundal, CEO of Rocketfarm. “Finally, we have a version that fully complies with the OPC UA standard, including necessary security features.”
Odense, Denmark-based Universal Robots is a 2020 RBR50 innovation award winner. Sogndal, Norway-based Rocketfarm is a robot producer and consultant specializing in cobot applications. The company is also a certified UR+ developer.
Rocketfarm provides Industry 4.0 integration
The Unified Architecture protocol, developed by OPC, the successor the Open Platform Communications organization, is one of the fastest-growing standards for machine-to-machine communication. It is a key component in “Industry 4.0,” said Universal Robots. The protocol is frequently used to enable data to flow from the production layer to either the business layer or monitoring systems.
“We know there have been a lot of requests to support OPC UA on UR robots,” said Christian Fenk, UR+ ecosystem manager for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa at Universal Robots. “With this enabled, it will open even more doors for our robots and play an important role in key markets.”
The UR+ network is an “app store” for hardware and software that are certified for use with any of the UR models.
UR gets help to support OPC UA
Universal Robots’ arms do not support OPC UA out of the box, but users can download the necessary software from Rocketfarm. The UR+ partner said it has worked on the URCap for more than a year.
The URCap translates information from the UR robot to OPC UA-compatible data. By incorporating the translation in the robot, factories and production facilities can avoid installing external hardware, said the companies.
This provides a simple and easy solution for production facilities of all sizes to connect UR cobots to their monitoring systems, said Universal Robots. To improve the accessibility of the URCap, Rocketfarm is offering a 30-day free trial of the full license. This enables any company with an UR robot to test the benefits of the OPC UA with no commitment, it said.