Embedded at SPS/IPC/Drives 2004

Embedded (and PC-based) controls are integral parts of industrial automation as demonstrated at the SPS/IPC/Drives Exhibition and Conference in Nuremberg, Germany (Nov. 22-25, 2004).


Planning for next year's show is already underway.

Embedded (and PC-based) controls are integral parts of industrial automation as demonstrated at the SPS/IPC/Drives Exhibition and Conference in Nuremberg, Germany (Nov. 22-25, 2004). This successful electric automation show continued its steady growth path, again establishing new marks for number of visitors (31,800), exhibitors (1,032), and display space (65,000 sq m, which translates to over 694,000 sq ft). Highlights from Baldor Electric, Beckhoff, B&R Automation, Bosch Rexroth, Moxa, National Instruments, SBS Technologies, and Schneider Electric follow, along with links to company Web sites for more information.

This year’s SPS/IPC/Drives show was host to a record number of 31,800 visitors.

Baldor Electric was part of a multi-vendor demonstration of Ethernet connectivity now expanding to a variety of automation system elements. Baldor motion controllers and servo drives handled 16 motion axes simultaneously in the demo, based on real-time Ethernet Powerlink protocol. Specific CANopen profiles also are adopted in the controllers to allow linking with operator interfaces, I/O devices, and other components. The demonstrated motion control products are expected to be available in early 2005. "Ethernet is going down to lower levels of the control architecture," said David Greensmith, International Business Development manager for Baldor UK Ltd.

Among Beckhoff Industrie Elektronik ’s numerous offerings (PC-based controls, industrial PCs, fieldbus components, etc.) was CX 9000 CPU module, a mid-size controller for embedded applications. It sports two Ethernet ports to simplify distributed control architectures by daisy-chain connectivity of system elements. The shrinking form factor of CX 9000 gives it the capacity of an earlier large industrial PC, explains Gerd Hoppe of Beckhoff’s corporate management. He also mentioned recent developments in the company’s EtherCat networking system. A "measurement of performance" demo illustrated network response in nanosecond terms (20 ns jitter) and 100% precise performance at 1 microsecond response. Bernecker+Rainer Industrie-Elektronik (B&R Industrial Automation) offered two significant announcements: an expanded line of industrial PCs with Intel Pentium M processor and X20 automation system with novel slice I/O design. New models complete the APC620 line of B&R Automation’s industrial PCs, says, Helmut Kirnstötter, international sales manager. Modular, fanless APC620 has various display options and can hook up as many as four operator screens at the same time. Among X20 system’s innovations is that each "slice" of its I/O design can be broken down into three sub-modules—terminal, electronics, and backplane (or bus). The highly modular design allows I/O unit combinations in one location or in widely separated groups up to 100 m apart, using a simple cable that extends the backplane. Bosch Rexroth presented a variety of automation products, including its IndraMotion system, available in
three versions for providing the motion logic: drive-based, controller-based, and PC-based. The
controller-based version has embedded PC architecture, scalable I/O system, and 70-microsecond cycle
time. PC-based IndraLogic VPP has reported cycle time of 30 microseconds for 1k of instructions.

Moxa Technologies exhibited its board-level, embedded control, and Ethernet connectivity products.
Network enablers (serial to Ethernet), programmable communication gateways, and RISC-based
universal communication boards comprise Moxa’s offerings for the embedded control arena.

Among computer-based measurement and automation products, one highlight at National Instruments
(NI) booth was its CompactRIO [reconfigurable I/O] technology, which applies FPGAs (field-
programmable gate arrays) and graphical software development tools to speed up input/output circuit
design. (See Control Engineering Daily News for Aug. 18, 2004 , for more about RIO technology.)

Gricha Raether, NI’s product manager for Industrial Control & Distributed I/O, also mentioned the growing
importance of partnerships in industrial automation developments. For example, Raether cited an
industrial communication demo at the show, where a Comsoft controller card runs Profibus in real time,
interacting through NI’s LabView software. The CompactPCI card works as a Profibus master for which
Comsoft has created a library of virtual instruments that allow real-time communication from a LabView
application. A driver kit for LabView is available from Comsoft, a developer of communication interface
and gateway products.

SBS Technologies exhibited its embedded PCs, industrial PCs (goes without saying at this show), along with products for FPGA communications. SBS products also included CPU boards, I/O modules, bus interconnections, and related complete systems.

Controllers and peripherals with embedded Web servers were among offerings related to embedded systems at Schneider Electric ’s wide ranging booth. Unity V 2.0 automation system with open architecture and scalable hardware was also prominent. Unity software uses COM/DCOM interfaces to create flexible client/server architectures and XML for application source format. It supports Modicon and Telemecanique processors.

Some other companies exhibiting at SPS in embedded systems and PC-based control arenas included:

—Frank J. Bartos, executive editor, Control Engineering, fbartos@reedbusiness.com

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