OPC UA’s Working Mechanism

OPC UA’s Working Mechanism

The choice between protocols in industrial communication can make all the difference. While OPC DA (Data Access) has served us well, the future belongs to OPC UA (Unified Architecture). In this blog post, we will look into why Softing’s OPC UA solutions are the best choice for modernising your industrial communication through security, flexibility, and future-proofing capabilities.

OPC UA: Security

In an era of increasing cyber threats, security is paramount. Softing’s OPC UA takes security to a whole new level. Here’s how the three key security mechanisms of OPC UA work:

  • Encryption – Data Confidentiality and Tamper-Proofing

Encryption in OPC UA relies on cryptographic algorithms to secure data in transit. Here’s how it works:

1. Data Preparation: When information is ready to be transmitted between devices or systems using OPC UA, it is first prepared for encryption. This involves converting the plain text data into a format that can’t be easily understood if intercepted.

2. Encryption Process: OPC UA uses encryption algorithms like RSA or AES to transform the prepared data into ciphertext. This ciphertext appears as random characters and is virtually impossible to decipher without the encryption key.

3. Secure Transmission: The encrypted data is then transmitted over the network. Even if an unauthorised party intercepts the data during transmission, they will only see the ciphertext, which is unreadable without the decryption key.

4. Decryption at the Receiver’s End: When the data reaches its intended recipient, it is decrypted using the appropriate decryption key. The recipient can then convert the ciphertext back into its original, understandable format.

  • Authentication – Verifying Authorised Access:

Working Mechanism: Authentication ensures that only authorised users and devices can access OPC UA systems. Here’s how it functions:

1. Identity Verification When a user or device attempts to connect to an OPC UA server or system, it must provide credentials, such as a username and password or digital certificate.

2. Credentials Authentication: The server authenticates these credentials by comparing them to a pre-registered list of authorised users or trusted devices. If the credentials match, authentication is successful.

3. Access Control: After successful authentication, the OPC UA server checks the user’s or device’s access rights. It determines what actions they are allowed to perform, such as reading, writing, or configuring data.

4. Authorisation and Denied Access: If the credentials are invalid or the user/device lacks the necessary access rights, access is denied. This prevents unauthorised access to sensitive industrial data.

  •  Authorisation – Fine-Grained Access Control:

Working Mechanism: Authorisation in OPC UA provides fine-grained control over user and device actions. Here’s how it operates:

1. Role-Based Access Control: OPC UA typically employs role-based access control. Users or devices are assigned specific roles or permissions that dictate what actions they can perform within the system.

2. Access Policy Enforcement: Each role is associated with a set of permissions or access policies. These policies define what actions are allowed or restricted. For example, a role may permit reading data but prohibit writing or configuring.

3. Access Requests: When a user or device attempts an action within the OPC UA system, the server checks their permissions against the associated access policies. If the action aligns with the user’s role and permissions, it is allowed.

4. Audit Trails: OPC UA systems often maintain detailed audit logs that record all access and actions. These logs can be used for traceability, accountability, and post-incident analysis.

Flexibility and Interoperability

The ability of Softing’s OPC UA solutions to bridge the gap between different industrial systems and facilitate communication between devices and systems using different protocols is a crucial feature for achieving interoperability and reducing integration challenges. Here’s how this mechanism typically works:

1. Protocol Translation: Softing’s OPC UA solutions act as intermediaries or translators between devices or systems using different communication protocols. These protocols could be OPC DA, Modbus, BACnet, MQTT, or any other industrial protocol.

2. Data Mapping: Softing’s solutions are equipped with intelligent data mapping capabilities. This means that they can understand the data structure and semantics of one protocol and map it to the corresponding structure in another protocol. For example, if one device uses a specific data structure in OPC DA, Softing’s solution can map that data to a format compatible with OPC UA.

3. Data Transformation: In some cases, data transformation might be required to ensure that data exchanged between systems is in the right format. Softing’s solution can transform data values, units, or even data types as needed to ensure compatibility.

4. Message Routing: Softing’s OPC UA solutions route messages between devices or systems. When a device using one protocol wants to communicate with a device using another protocol, the message is sent through the OPC UA bridge. The bridge then translates, maps, and routes the message to its destination.

5. Error Handling and Protocol Conversion: Softing’s solutions are designed to handle errors gracefully. If there are issues with data exchange or if there are incompatibilities between the protocols being bridged, the software can manage these situations to ensure minimal disruption.

6. Security Considerations: Security is a critical aspect of protocol bridging. Softing’s OPC UA solutions typically incorporate encryption and authentication mechanisms to ensure that data remains secure during transit, even when bridging between different protocols.

7. Configuration and Management: Users can configure and manage the protocol bridging functionality through a user-friendly interface provided by Softing’s solution. This allows for flexibility in defining how different protocols are mapped and communicated.

8. Real-Time Communication: Softing’s solutions ensure that data is communicated in real-time or with minimal latency between devices or systems. This is crucial for real-time applications.

Future-Proofing Your Communication

As industries evolve, your communication protocols must evolve with them. OPC UA future-proofs your systems in several ways:

– Scalability: Softing’s OPC UA solutions are designed to accommodate your growing needs. As your operations expand, your communication infrastructure can seamlessly scale, reducing downtime and costs.

– Platform Independence: OPC UA is not tied to specific operating systems or hardware, ensuring that your communication infrastructure remains adaptable to future technology changes.

– Global Adoption: OPC UA has gained worldwide recognition and adoption across industries. By choosing Softing’s OPC UA solutions, you become part of a global community that embraces the future of industrial communication.


In conclusion, Softing’s OPC UA seamlessly bridge the gap between different industrial systems and communication protocols, achieving interoperability and reducing integration hurdles. Here are the key takeaways regarding Softing’s OPC UA working mechanism:

1. Protocol Translation and Mapping: Softing’s solutions excel at translating and mapping data between devices or systems that use different communication protocols. This ensures that data can be exchanged smoothly, regardless of the underlying protocol.

2. Data Transformation: Softing’s solutions can transform data values, units, and data types as needed to ensure compatibility between systems, allowing for seamless data exchange.

3. Message Routing: These solutions efficiently route messages between devices or systems, ensuring that data reaches its intended destination without disruption. This routing includes translating, mapping, and adapting the data as necessary.

4. Error Handling and Security: Softing’s OPC UA solutions prioritise security and error handling, ensuring that data remains secure during transit and that any issues that arise during protocol bridging are managed gracefully.

5. Configuration and Management: Users can easily configure and manage the protocol bridging functionality through user-friendly interfaces provided by Softing’s solutions, offering flexibility in defining how different protocols are mapped and communicated.

6. Real-Time Communication: Softing’s solutions are designed to facilitate real-time or low-latency data communication, crucial for applications where timely data exchange is essential.

Softing’s OPC UA solutions serve as intelligent intermediaries that enable efficient and secure communication between industrial systems, regardless of the communication protocols in use. This capability simplifies integration, enhances interoperability, and supports the seamless operation of modern industrial automation systems.

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