This helps manufacturers optimize lots of processes and stay abreast of market changes, but it also creates some major vulnerabilities. In the last decade, it’s become more and more common for hackers to gain access to plant floor data. They use these break-ins to demand money by threatening equipment shutoff and destruction.

The cost of downtime in itself is very high, not to mention the costs imposed by the hackers. The safety risks are also significant. For example, if a hacker were to break into a system responsible for controlling temperature, any malicious activities could not only damage equipment, but could also put employees in harm’s way.

Omron’s solution uses OPC UA

To provide a more secure way to transfer plant floor data over the internet, Omron embedded OPC UA (Open Platform Communications Unified Architecture) capabilities into its latest programmable logic controller (PLC). OPC UA is a protocol that’s device-independent, so it can be connected using a PC, phone, tablet or other devices for added flexibility.

OPC UA isn’t proprietary to Omron, but Omron realized that there was a significant advantage for customers in securing data at the plant floor level. OPC UA provides a level of authentication and data encryption that helps ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of data. People can’t just get in and start modifying it without having the authority to do so.

What makes Omron’s solution special?

Omron isn’t the only automation solution provider that supports OPC UA with its product portfolio, but what’s unique about Omron’s approach is that the protocol is sold as part of the hardware itself. This means that there’s no need to have middleware on a PC – you can use your standard Sysmac Studio software without purchasing anything separately.

Interested in learning more about Omron’s innovative automation solutions incorporating OPC UA? Check out Omron's NX102 Machine Automation Controller.