Schneider Electric granted patent for web-enabled PLC
Schneider Electric secured a U.S. patent May 9 for its design of a programmable logic controller (PLC) that can link to the web using an Ethernet interface. This design couples an Ethernet interface module with a web server on a PLC. The interface translates Ethernet, TCP/IP, and HTTP protocols used on the Internet into data recognizable to a PLC.
Schneider Electric secured a U.S. patent May 9 for its design of a programmable logic controller (PLC) that can link to the web using an Ethernet interface. This design couples an Ethernet interface module with a web server on a PLC. The interface translates Ethernet, TCP/IP, and HTTP protocols used on the Internet into data recognizable to a PLC. The embedded web server allows almost instantaneous transfer of data to and from factory-floor equipment.
The patent covers Schneider's Transparent Factory automation architecture, which creates an open e-manufacturing environment with seamless communication between manufacturing, facility and business systems. The company began selling web-enabled PLCs under its Modicon Quantum and Premium PLC brands in 1998. In 1999, Schneider Electric worldwide sales of web-enabled PLCs grew to approximately $15 million.
"Embedding a web server into the PLC allows information to travel directly across the backplane of the PLC," says Richard Baker, project design team director. "The performance and cost advantages of this approach are infinitely superior to the PC-based web servers offered by most automation companies."
Mr. Baker adds that a web-enabled PLC also makes some aspects of specialty HMI products obsolete. "For years, companies have sold HMI packages to retrieve PLC data over factory floor networks. However, by embedding a web server with web pages in a controller, we have removed this expensive requirement. Factory floor data can now be remotely accessed over a PC from anywhere."
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