"The group will start its work in January 2019,” reports Dr Alexander Broos, project manager for umati at the VDW. "Interested members of the OPC Foundation, the VDW – or affiliated associations who want to co-operate in the joint development of umati – are welcome to contact us.”

In this way, the VDW wants to ensure that the worldwide needs of customers and machine tool manufacturers are included in the standard.

As common with international standards, a draft of umati will be presented to the (professional) public for inspection, feedback and comments. After a deadline, the comments received will be incorporated to the greatest possible extent, such that a final standard can be adopted. In contrast to many similar organisations, OPC UA also includes configuration files that facilitate the set-up of so-called OPC servers, which need to be implemented in the machine and then handle actual communications.

The VDW reports that umati passed its first crucial test in a showcase during the AMB 2018 tradeshow in Stuttgart recently. Some 15 machines, from nine manufacturers (with five control platforms), were connected to numerous communication partners. The exchange of data was based on an extract of the first parameter set that had been jointly defined up to then. The participating companies report that setting up the communication network took between eight and 16 hours.

"The next important milestone for umati is the presentation of a more extensive showcase at EMO 2019,” says Broos. “At EMO, we want to see a significantly larger number of international partners participating in umati.”