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Three methods to optimise existing equipment with OPC

How can you optimise existing equipment with OPC? In this article, you will learn three different approaches to connecting industrial equipment and systems and understand how the industry standard OPC can help you better leverage your existing equipment. Connectivity is the first step of your digitisation journey.

Read more about OPC: What is OPC and OPC UA?

Firstly, digital transformation and Industry 4.0 often describe an ideal production scenario where modern industrial equipment and software seamlessly communicate, providing data-driven insights for decision-making support. However, before obtaining the necessary data insights, fundamental work must be done: your different industrial equipment and systems need to be interconnected.

Three methods to optimize existing equipment with OPC

With smart factories, IoT sensors, and web-based software, this might seem like a simple task. In reality, most manufacturing companies today have a broad ecosystem of new and old equipment from various vendors, all offering different functionalities and communication requirements – leading to “data silos”. To obtain the data insights you need, you must first figure out how to integrate your data – a task that can be challenging.

Three different methods for better connectivity with OPC

1. “Rip and Replace”: Replace Existing Equipment

The “Rip and Replace” method involves removing older machines and equipment and replacing them with new, modern models. Many may aspire to do this, but for most manufacturing companies, it’s not an option due to high costs.


  • You stay ahead of technology with equipment prepared for next-generation features.
  • Modern machines and equipment often have better performance and lower energy consumption.
  • In some cases, older equipment is no longer supported by the supplier. New equipment comes with full support.


  • The costs make a complete “Rip and Replace” unrealistic.
  • Equipment replacement is time-consuming: Existing equipment must be removed, new equipment must be installed, and employees must be retrained.

2. In-House customised solution

With the second method, an in-house solution is developed by experts within the company and is tailored to the business’s needs. Often, IT and OT teams work together to access specific data they need.


  • Customised solutions that provide you with precisely the data you need.
  • In-house experts are familiar with the challenges and quickly know how to solve them.
  • Using internal resources means you are always prioritised for installations and support.


  • Customised solutions can be difficult to scale.
  • After the equipment is interconnected, the next step is to visualise, analyse, and leverage the data. There are few technicians who can handle all of this.
  • In-house solutions also require maintenance, troubleshooting, and updates, which must be continuously prioritised.

3. “Wrap and Extend” Third-Party Solution

Third-party solutions often employ a “wrap and extend” approach, which involves “wrapping” (integrating) all industrial equipment and then extending data access. With OPC, such a solution ensures seamless communication between everything from the oldest machines to the newest IoT devices.


  • A standard off-the-shelf product that can be installed quickly and easily, without production stoppages, and provide immediate ROI.
  • Designed to accommodate both older protocols and the latest IoT sensors.
  • Developed by industry experts who understand the industry and the needs that must be met.
  • System integrators are familiar with the systems and can either guide you or manage the project without it becoming too costly.


  • Collecting large amounts of data means more strain on the network. Many such systems, therefore, include edge-based processing.
  • Having many third-party sensors can make maintaining the system challenging. The solution may be to enlist the help of a system integrator for installation or to purchase all sensors from one supplier.

Which method should you choose?

All three methods can provide you with the data insights you need. It’s also unnecessary to choose a single method: You can replace an older machine that the supplier no longer supports, retain a well-functioning in-house solution for a specific part of production, and implement a third-party system for easier data access on a larger scale. It all depends on your company’s needs.

The benefits of an OPC Solution

For most manufacturing companies, a “wrap and extend” third-party solution will be the quickest, easiest, most cost-effective, and safest option. This method utilises industry standard OPC, providing a single source for data collection, monitoring, and control across all industrial devices, regardless of vendor or age.

OPC communication facilitates leveraging your existing industrial equipment to obtain the data insights you need, both now and in the future. This is the foundation of your digital transformation.

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