Keywords: Innovation, PAC, Motion Applications, Scalability, Sustainability.
The need for continuous innovation is the driver that keeps today's machine builders ahead of the competition. Whether they make production or packaging machines, handling equipment, or machine tools; today's machine builders recognize the necessity to continuously improve -- to keep inventing -- as a strategy to stay ahead. To support this process, machine builders rely on modern automation architectures that support and enhance new innovations.
Integration Is the Key
At the center of a modern control architecture is the concept of the programmable automation controller (PAC); a platform that supports multiple, concurrent control disciplines. These can range from logic control to motion control to managing and visualizing data. PAC architectures integrate these disciplines by allowing applications to access data from a single, common source and communicate with each other without the need for interfaces.
In the face of fierce global competition, bringing new innovations to market quickly is crucial. An integrated automation architecture gives OEMs the flexibility and efficiency to concentrate on machine design and function, rather than programming and configuration. Modular architectures allow OEMs to standardize machine modules and produce more serial machines with less customization. With a PAC-based integrated architecture as a backbone, OEMs can design new machines from the ground up in a modular fashion, mimicking the architectural flexibility demanded by their customers.
Midrange Architecture Addresses Requirements of Machine Builders
Rockwell Automation recently briefed ARC Advisory Group about the company's new-generation CompactLogix midrange control architecture. While priced to compete on smaller machines, the designation is somewhat misleading. CompactLogix 5370 shares the same execution engine as the larger ControlLogix platform, and I/O can be expanded either locally or remotely via EtherNet/IP. The company's Kinetix servo drives, Stratix industrial Ethernet switches, and PanelView Plus operator panels round out the midrange architecture, which includes new features and enhancements that address specific needs of modern machine builders.
CompactLogix now directly integrates motion control with Kinetix 6500 servo drives over EtherNet/IP. All axis moves are planned and executed in the PAC and then communicated to the Kinetix drives via the CIP Motion profile over the network. Servo drives now connect directly to the PAC-like intelligent I/O modules without the need for dedicated motion control modules. According to the company, this not only simplifies engineering, it also lowers the system price by reducing the number of components needed. Extending EtherNet/IP down to the motion control levels also completes Rockwell Automation's vision of a single network for everything.
For motion applications, the company also offers its Motion Analyzer software, a sizing tool for analyzing, optimizing, selecting, and validating motion control applications. The tool's simulation features allows users to quickly design and validate new machine concepts long before committing to a finished design. Users can also link 3D mechanical designs in SolidWorks 3D CAD software directly to control programs in RSLogix 5000.
To help ensure universal connectivity from the enterprise level down to the shop floor, Rockwell Automation supports EtherNet/IP, an open network designed to meet the needs of industrial users. EtherNet/IP provides a single network solution for all areas of industrial use, from the high-speed plant backbone network to deterministic motion control applications. Thanks to its use of standard, unmodified Ethernet, EtherNet/IP helps bridge the gap between the corporate and manufacturing worlds with common, easy-to-maintain technology.
Rockwell Automation designed all its controller platforms to offer seamless connectivity for multiple networks, including legacy networks. According to the company, the keys to this connectivity are the intelligent backplane together with communications modules that bridge networks independently of the PAC. The latest release of CompactLogix continues this support for current and legacy networks while adding support for motion control via EtherNet/IP.
Modular and Scalable
According to the company, the new generation of CompactLogix increases scalability by allowing users to choose CPUs based on memory size, number of local I/O, and integrated motion requirements. Because PAC code is compatible throughout the range, OEMs can save money by scaling their CPU selection to match the needs of each machine. Modular hardware and program configurations and flexible, tag-based addressing allow users to quickly adapt standard programs to individual machine set-ups.
Other mid-range architecture components, such as operator panels, servo drives and AC drives, are also scalable and can be selected by size, capacity, or power rating to meet individual application needs.
One Programming Tool for Everything
Rockwell Automation RSLogix 5000 programming software helps meet increasing user demands to reduce engineering and start-up costs by integrating all automation functions in a single engineering tool. RSLogix 5000 offers functionality for integrating logic, motion, and safety programming, allowing each function to access common data in a single-tag database. Tags for HMI devices such as the company's PanelView Plus series of operator panels are also directly accessible from within RSLogix 5000. Finally, the tool also supports the configuration of drives and, for users in hybrid manufacturing plants, programming of Rockwell Automation's PlantPAx process automation system.
For safety applications, Rockwell Automation's line includes Compact GuardLogix, safety controllers that share the same control engine and development environment as CompactLogix. In addition, CompactLogix processors and Kinetix servo drives support advanced safe motion functions such as safe stop and speed monitoring, allowing OEMs to perform these functions at the servo drive level.
Performance and Sustainability
PAC size and performance used to be inter-related, meaning that OEMs had to upgrade to larger PACs if they needed more speed or capacity. With CompactLogix, Rockwell Automation now employs the same control engine across all processors, including its larger ControlLogix line. This allows OEMs to select and scale their PAC to the specific hardware needs of each machine.
To enhance sustainability, with the midrange system launch, machine builders can leverage smaller components to reduce the overall footprint of the cabinets and machine, plus drives that use less energy. In addition, machine builders can reduce energy consumption by replacing pneumatic and hydraulic actuators with electric cylinders. By reducing the demand for compressed utilities such as air and, oil machine builders can often reduce leakage, equipment maintenance, and the energy needed to keep compressors running.
Today's machine builders are driven by the need to streamline engineering processes, standardize machine designs, and shorten time-to-market for new innovations. These challenges require an automation architecture that supports modularity, reduces development and start-up times, and increases productivity with integrated engineering tools. ARC believes that Rockwell Automation's midrange architecture addresses these needs with a solution that tightly integrates disparate automation disciplines in a single platform. Machine builders can take advantage of this integrated environment to address the challenges they face in today's highly competitive, globalized industrial marketplace.
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NOTE TO READERS: ControlLogix, and Kinetix are registered trademarks of Rockwell Automation. PlantPAx, CompactLogix, PanelView Plus, and RSLogix are trademarks of Rockwell Automation. All other trademarks mentioned are trademarks of their respective owners.