Standards-based Platform for Enterprise Communication

Manufacturing has become data driven. Today’s Smart Manufacturing is hampered by the complexity of connecting and configuring heterogeneous machine tools, PLCs, sensors, and devices on the shop floor. On-site process data and information is disconnected from higher-level decision making systems.


Lack of standardized communication models to define protocols for horizontally and vertically integrated manufacturing systems is the primary disconnect. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) provide little to no support for dynamic planning, scheduling, or optimizing equipment utilization. They don’t support the needs of contract manufacturers as the industry moves towards flexible, agile design and manufacturing services to accommodate wider customer requirements.

The challenge is to create the ability to aggregate and analyze process data within a factory in order to make real-time decisions that improve factory operations, and to make this data available to factory operators and to other parts of the value chain.

Project Partners


The ultimate goal is a smart factory that has full systems integration of hardware, software, and data to achieve efficiency, robustness, and profitability.

The SPEC-OPS project assessed, integrated, and enhanced five existing standards (MTConnect, ISA-95/B2MML, UPnP, ISO 13399, ISO 13374/OpenO&M) to provide a standards-based communication platform enables integrated predictive process control, dynamic scheduling, and process analytics with significantly reduced implementation cost. The SPEC-OPS open-standards communication platform advances the effort to realize a plug-and-play, near-zero-configuration infrastructure utilizing real-time sensor and process data. It is the first communication platform that allows tight integration between machine tools, MES, ERP systems, dynamic planning/scheduling, and process analytics.

This capability will deliver immense savings in planning, scheduling, execution, and maintenance time, translating to increased competitiveness and agility for U.S. manufacturers.


The SPEC-OPS project developed information models, standards mappings, and standards harmonization documents that enable the communication and integration of heterogeneous physical and software components in the manufacturing environment. Where necessary, the team proposed extensions and enhancements to the MTConnect standard to better serve the needs of dynamic planning, scheduling, and process analysis.

SPEC-OPS has demonstrated the ability to utilize standards-based information models and communication technology to create an agile, smart manufacturing platform where each component is a pluggable service sharing open source messaging and data representations. These harmonized standards will allow industries, universities, and national labs to collaborate using common information models. Standards-based implementations increase the availability of solutions, reduce costs, simplify the level of information complexity, and ultimately foster an ecosystem where every engineer can develop meaningful applications.