A universal machine connectivity interface with standardized semantics is highly needed and requested to enable Industry 4.0. The OPC/UA architecture for machine-to-machine communication together with the umati companion specifications defines a common data model suitable for the AM industry.
Benefits of OPC/UA + umati
Reasons to integrate OPC/UA+umati to AM machines are:
It is a set of companion specifications for OPC/UA, a well-accepted, performant, and secure protocol that is made for high throughput and polling and pushing mechanisms. Other technologies/interfaces like MTConnect are only based on polling, which is not well suited for machine control use cases.
Compared to designing an internal API scheme, umati already comes with a ready-to-use scheme. That reduces the time needed for implementing an internal API.
Although OPC UA is documented in an abstract form, there are a lot of libraries that are easy to use. For supporting umati, most of the features offered by OPC/UA are not needed.
Umati is still in the early stages, but even if umati does not become the industry standard, the machines will still have a solid API using OPC/UA that can be used for connectivity.
It is also possible to support umati in parallel to an existing Machine Connectivity interface either in a side-by-side installation or with a driver that converts the existing data interface to umati.