Controller platform: Small-scale system bridges device gap

Platform designed for processes that have outgrown PLC capabilities.


New AC 700F controller platform from ABB offers greater capabilities than PLCs without the overhead of larger process automation systems.

This new controller is part of ABB’s Freelance compact control system. This compact, robust controller reportedly offers high process performance for small applications, for roughly the same price as PLCs that have less power and functionality.

“The AC 700F provides our customers with a powerful, scalable control option for smaller applications, where a full size DCS solution would be much more than what is needed to do the job, and a PLC would not provide enough capability,” says Gero Lustig, Freelance business development manager at ABB. “The AC 700F is the right sized solution for these applications, as it provides superior functionality and ease of use, with the option to expand into a larger system, for roughly the same cost as a traditional PLC.”

The company contends that while traditional PLC automation systems are compact, low cost, and offer fast processing speeds, they support few engineering options and often lack convenient visualization capabilities. Larger process control systems integrate numerous components, such as controllers, engineering tools, HMIs, and functionality such as asset optimization, safety and ERP integration.

The Freelance compact DCS system is designed as a hybrid control solution for smaller sized applications. It complements other system offerings, ranging from the AC 500 PLC for discrete processes, to Compact Products 800 for standalone processes to its flagship System 800xA for larger, more complex processes that require visibility into and integration with multiple systems.

ABB says the AC 700F offers the benefits of all the tools integrated in the Freelance system, including Control Builder F engineering, DigiVis, pre-engineered visualization components such as faceplates, module diagnosis, extended troubleshooting capabilities, ready made system communication, event list, alarm line, trend displays or automatically generated sequence diagrams. According to the company, these components can be used straight out of the box, eliminating the manual configuration that is required when using traditional PLCs.

—Edited by Peter Welander, process industries editor, ,
Process & Advanced Control Monthly
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