Schneider Electric announced that its IEC 61499 Integrated Development Environment (IDE), EcoStruxure Automation Expert, can now also deploy to Phoenix Contact’s PLCnext automation equipment. Such independence from vendor hardware represents a key milestone in industrial automation’s transformation to open and software-defined automation.
Both Schneider Electric equipment and PLCnext share the same runtime software technology, giving industrial operators new levels of engineering and maintenance efficiency due to far greater application portability.
Developed and managed by UniversalAutomation.org (an independent, non-profit association) the shared IEC 61499 runtime engine enables software applications that are independent of the automation hardware on which they execute. The promise of software defined automation is that industrial companies can mix and match automation solutions and longer be constrained by the traditional “full stack” vendor-proprietary automation development platforms.
EcoStruxure Automation Expert was designed to decouple automation software from hardware and integrate equipment from different automation vendors, providing greater freedom, agility and simplicity for industrial automation system integrators and OEMs, who can now develop and deploy applications to one or more PLCnext controllers using EcoStruxure Automation Expert.
Harry Forbes, ARC Advisory Group, commented, “This development illustrates the value of a common runtime software environment in automation systems, as advocated by Universal Automation. Software development options for PLCnext now include Phoenix Contact, Schneider Electric, and various Linux tools. That level of choice for SIs and end users is a taste of the future of industrial automation.”