The OPC Foundation announced in August the establishment of the new "Laboratory Agnostic Device Standard (LADS) based on OPC UA" as a “Joint Working Group” (JWG) together with the industry associations OPC Foundation, SPECTARIS and VDMA.
LADS aims to create a manufacturer-independent, open standard for analytical and laboratory equipment that comprehensively reflects the different customer industries and their respective workflows, is sustainably applicable and also meets future requirements of digitalization and automation. LADS will be based on OPC UA which is the open communication platform for cross-vendor communication and interoperability in industrial automation processes developed and promoted by the OPC Foundation.
Today's laboratory infrastructures are made up of many highly specialised devices from a wide range of manufacturers. Different interfaces and data formats make it difficult to network these devices with each other and to integrate them into existing IT infrastructures. However, this is the most important prerequisite for end-to-end digitalization and efficient automation. Currently, there is no comprehensive, efficient and robust solution for this.
"SPECTARIS has therefore been working on an answer to this challenge since 2016 in its working group 'Networked laboratory equipment'. The first foundations have already been laid in recent months. With the creation of a working group together with the OPC-Foundation and the VDMA, the involvement of all international and national interested stakeholders is now beginning", says Mathis Kuchejda, chairman of the professional association for analysis, bio and laboratory technology.
Within the framework of the OPC UA Joint Working Group, this standard is being developed as the so-called OPC UA Companion Specification for analytical and laboratory equipment
"We very much welcome the establishment of the LADS Working Group as a new joint activity", emphasizes Stefan Hoppe, President of the OPC Foundation. "The standard is based on a technology that has become established worldwide in recent years, particularly in industrial automation and the process industry. OPC UA is well-defined, scaled from the sensor to the IT with integrated security via different protocols, is very well adaptable, field-tested, is continuously being developed and therefore widely used".
Mathis Kuchejda adds: "The laboratory market is also increasingly oriented towards industrial automation and its solution approaches, as the results of laboratory analysis are increasingly linked to process control. The advantages associated with this were worked out by the SPECTARIS working group 'Networked laboratory equipment' and resulted in the decision to use OPC UA as the basic technology for networking equipment, systems and processes in the laboratory".
This enables not only networking in the laboratory, but also the connection to the classical industrial infrastructure. "We as VDMA are pleased that the trends set in mechanical and plant engineering towards the development of OPC UA interface standards are also finding resonance in the field of laboratory equipment communication. The future cooperation will enable us to jointly develop another piece of the puzzle of the production landscape completely described by OPC UA interface standards - and this will be harmonized across industries by OPC UA for Machinery", adds Andreas Faath, Head of OPC UA in the VDMA.