The efficient networking of machines, automated systems and processes is the key to securing advantages in an increasingly competitive laboratory market. This applies equally to the users of analytical and laboratory equipment as well as to manufacturers.
According to a study carried out by McKinsey, up to 50% of costs can be cut and up to 70% savings achieved in terms of delivery times through digitalization and automation in quality laboratories.
The interdisciplinary and cross-company SPECTARIS 'Networked Laboratory Equipment' working group has taken up the challenge of promoting the standardisation of interfaces in laboratories to serve the industry. The objective of the working group is the creation of a manufacturer-independent open standard, which comprehensively takes on board the requirements of various branches, disciplines and business processes, and is sustainable and adaptable to future requirements in the field of digitalization and automation.
Current laboratory infrastructures comprise many highly specialized items of apparatus from a variety of manufacturers. Multiple interfaces and data formats aggravate the networking of pieces of equipment among themselves and their integration into existing IT infrastructures. This, though, is the most important prerequisite in consistent digitalization and efficient automation. At the moment, what is lacking is a comprehensive, efficient and robust solution!
Particularly in industrial automation and the process industry, OPC UA has won through over recent years to become the worldwide standard. This is reflected in the fact that more than 750 reputable manufacturers subscribe to this standard, which is embedded in thousands of products supporting OPC UA. As a result of its widespread use, OPC UA is well-defined, very highly adaptable, proven in practice and the focus of ongoing further development. The laboratory market is increasingly aligning itself with industrial automation processes and the adopted approaches, thereby profiting from the many decades of experience already gathered. The associated benefits have been collated by the SPECTARIS 'Networked Laboratory Equipment' working group, resulting in the decision to adopt OPC UA as the standard technology for networking equipment, systems and processes in the laboratory. This not only facilitates connectivity in the laboratory but also enables integration with typical industrial infrastructure.
The working group offers various forms of involvement and cooperation with the network. These are scalable to cater for the capacities and capabilities of participating companies and range from simply monitoring the activities of the group, to providing feedback through to active cooperation in shaping the standard.
Core members represent the body with a focus on the long-term strategic establishment and further development of standards. This includes networking and collaboration with other initiatives as well as the development of reference implementations and the acquisition of new users.
Contributing members assist with development work by offering their expertise and technical skills. In addition to this, they advise core members with respect to the requirements of their clients.
Observing members monitor the development of standards and provide feedback on emerging trends in the various markets. They serve as creative minds and sparring partners, but without any obligations.
Various review committees ensures a close exchange of views and information between the working group, equipment manufacturers and users. They ensure ongoing reconciliation between the development of standards and their use in practice.
Interested companies are invited to contact Birgit Ladwig and Franziska Dorfmueller.
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