SPS/IPC/Drives 2004: Updates from OPC Foundation, PLCopen, SERCOS interface, and more

Nuremberg, Germany—Besides showing a gamut of automation technologies ranging from controllers, electric drives, and motion systems to sensors, computers, software, and industrial communications, SPS/IPC/Drives Exhibition and Conference provides a venue for companies and associations to make announcements significant to industry.


Nuremberg, Germany —Besides showing a gamut of automation technologies ranging from controllers, electric drives, and motion systems to sensors, computers, software, and industrial communications, SPS/IPC/Drives Exhibition and Conference provides a venue for companies and associations to make announcements significant to industry. It was the case during this year’s staging of the event, Nov. 23-25, 2004. For other coverage of this show, also see Dec. 29, 2004 Daily News and December 2004 Information Contro l and Discrete Control E-Newsletters.

OPC’s changing image

The OPC Foundation reported on the progress of its activities to develop standards for multi-vendor interoperability and connectivity for measurement and automation products, during a Nov. 24 press conference. OPC Foundation continues to reshape its original “process control” image, adding manufacturing industries to its mission, as it approaches a run-up period to introducing its Unified Architecture specification.

“Today, OPC stands for Openness, Productivity and Collaboration,” said Jürgen Lange, OPC Europe representative and senior architect at Softing AG . Meanwhile, the Foundation reported success with its existing specifications being applied at all automation levels from human-machine interfaces and PLCs to ERP, MES and other higher level systems.

Other developments involved compliance and interoperability issues, which are increasingly visible marketplace requirements, explained Lange. OPC Foundation software and interoperability workshops in various global locations help to promote compliance. Cooperation with regional and international organizations, such as ISA, OMAC, and MIMOSA, also aids the process.

Thomas Burke, president and executive director of OPC Foundation, spoke about OPC specs extending to the enterprise-level, which is a more complex arena. To deliver better integration of plant connectivity, OPC has been developing its Unified Architecture (OPC-UA) spec for some time. OPC-UA moves away from DCOM methods, adopting the latest technologies, such as Web services. Said Burke, “Web services are key to moving information more efficiently within Unified Architecture.” Safety and reliability of the information handled also receive full attention in OPC-UA.

Burke provided some timelines for the delivery of the OPC-UA spec. Approval cycle is seen as 12 to 18 months overall, with release of the spec for member response expected in spring 2005. Allowing time for members to respond, approval is expected in late 2005. “Migration of legacy products and backward compatibility issues will take extra time,” added Reinhold Achatz, vice president of OPC Foundation. Fifty or so products compliant to OPC-UA are expected from manufacturers by spring 2006.

PLCopen in high-speed packaging, Asian activities, new strategies

Proof of concept results for a flow wrap packaging machine based on IEC 61131-3 structured approach, PLCopen Motion Control Function Blocks, and OMAC Guidelines were among topics presented at PLCopen ’s press conference, also on Nov. 24.

Developed by Dutch packaging machine manufacturer Tevopharm BV —now part of Bosch Packaging—Pack-300CA Flow Wrapper demonstrated proof of concept by wrapping 2,000 products per minute (that’s 33.3 per second)—its design capacity. A complete machine was on hand to demonstrate this remarkable speed at PLCopen’s exhibit.

Pack-300CA incorporates three servo drives that control: product in-feed chain, film feeding and alignment, and a cross sealing step. The three servo motion axes are positioned and synchronized by a “virtual line shaft” in the controller using software. Tevopharm’s structured design allows one approach to serve many machine types, according to Eelco van der Wal, managing director of PLCopen. It also is said to reduce training costs for both supplier and user.

Pack-300CA Flow Wrapper packages 2,000 products per minute.

Other benefits of the method include savings in software development costs, ability to support multiple platforms and to add new features, increased software quality, shorter machine development times, and easier maintenance, explains van der Wal.

PLCopen also reported on its expanding Asian activities. Focus of PLCopen Japan’s first general meeting in May 2004 was the strengthening of standardization, for example, that of a program description by XML, and the promotion of standardization benefits, in general. Rounding out the 2004 program were a user-oriented seminar, also in May; start of standardization of an XML schema in July; and participation in Manufacturing Open Forum in Tokyo (November).

PLCopen China has been founded. After start of contacts in 1999, official signing of PLCopen China took place in July 2004 at the FAPA (Factory Automation & Process Automation) Fair in China. IEC 61131 standard is well known in China, having been translated to Chinese “a long time ago,” stated a representative of the Chinese organization. Several related seminars were conducted in 2004, with an increasing number to come in six cities in 2005.

Looking ahead for the overall PLCopen organization, four new strategic topics were identified for focus in 2005 from a list of 14 potential action items voted on by participants at this year’s general meeting. These “hot” topics are: adding standard interfaces to HMI and fieldbus engineering tools; performance test for evaluation of systems; library for communication/Ethernet; and tag naming and standard wiring numbering schemes.

SERCOS III on schedule; multi-vendor demo

SERCOS interoperability demo networked controls and servo drives from Automation Intelligence, Beckhoff, Bosch Rexroth, and Rockwell Automation plus servo drives from Danaher Motion.

Under development for a year by a working group of Interests Group SERCOS interface (IGS), the specification of new SERCOS III has been completed. This third-generation architecture combines established real-time mechanisms and diagnostic capabilities of the original SERCOS standard with universal communication benefits of Ethernet. SERCOS III specification will be delivered shortly to the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) as a Publicly Available Specification, Peter Lutz, managing director of IGS, told Control Engineering at SPS/IPC/Drives in Nuremberg. This is part of procedures required for inclusion in the eventual Real-time Ethernet standard, planned for 2007.

Meanwhile, the spec will be distributed to SERCOS trade association members. National committees of the IEC will then vote on the approximate 4,000-page proposed document. It will become available to non-members after the voting at IEC, expected by April 2005, according to IGS. Apparently other steps are involved in the procedure, given the 2007 date of release. Lutz believes that the IEC intends to “broaden” the eventual standard to something like that done for the Fieldbus standard.

First SERCOS III prototypes were shown at the SPS/IPC/Drives exhibition. Hilscher introduced a universal intelligent controller for SERCOS III, called netX, which reportedly offers “outstanding performance” for real-time Ethernet communication. The family of netX-chips (with an integrated 32-bit ARM CPU) also provides interfaces for fieldbus and peripherals needed for master and slave devices, enabling low-cost, "single-chip" controls and drives. Chip samples will be available in first-quarter 2005, according to IGS.

A demonstration of SERCOS interface’s networking capabilities with control products from different manufacturers also took place at SPS/IPC/Drives. The demo—similar to the one at Chicago’s Pack Expo in early November 2004—featured controllers from four manufacturers running each others’ servo drives and motors, plus a servo drive/motor from a fifth supplier. All devices conformed to SERCOS interface Packaging Profile, a subset of SERCOS functions defined for packaging machinery to improve multi-vendor interoperability of servo controls and drives. Networked devices in the demo also support PLCopen (IEC 61131-3) and OMAC PackML State Model, that unifies machine states, operating modes, instructions and machine data, explained Lutz. The demo was well received by show visitors, he added.

MEI launches modular I/O product family for SynqNet

Motion Engineering Inc. (MEI)—part of Danaher Motion Group—announced a new modular family of I/O products compatible with any SynqNet motion-control platform and network, at the SPS/IPC/Drives show. Available for order now, SQIO product line consists of a SynqNet Interface Device (SQID) and flexible analog and digital “add-on” boards that provide a cost-effective, high-count I/O solution for OEMs. SQIO also is said to easily integrate with existing machine I/O systems.

SynqNet I/O product family provides up to 256 digital I/O points and 16 analog I/O points per device (SQID). A total of 32 SQIDs can be installed on one network. SynqNet diagnostics permit firmware- and configuration-file upgrades on nodes from any remote host computer. All programming is done under one API, supported by MEI

For more information SQIO products, click here or visit SynqNet User Group ’s Web site

1394automation merges with 1394 Trade Association

Also announced at the SPS/IPC/Drives show, the European 1394automation group will merge with the 1394 Trade Association , at the start of 2005. Each organization promotes IEEE 1394 network standard (FireWire)—with 1394automation concentrating on industrial applications. Object of the union is “to form a worldwide group for the benefit of the only standard where motion control, vision and I/O are transmitted together in one cable,” said the developers. Work of the 1394automation group comprises the specification “1394 AP" and "FireWire Planning and Installation Guide."

1394 AP (Automation Protocol) lets automation components—such as drives, vision systems, I/O modules, and controls—work together on FireWire bus. The protocol’s essential features are summarized as: cycle synchronization and real-time capability (8 kHz isochronous bus cycle); jitter less than 500 picoseconds; data cross-communication of participants; communication with "slow" participants; as well as isochronous and asynchronous communication. Reportedly, 1394 AP can be widely applied. Applications range from distributed control architectures having intelligent nodes to traditional centralized controls with simple nodes whose circuits are closed via the bus.

1394automation group published its "Planning and Installation Guide" in time for SPS/IPC/Drives 2004. The “Guide” provides users with procedures for planning the installation and startup of “complex structures.” It defines different environment classes of installation, as well as installation requirements derived for industry-standard connectors and cables for copper wiring and optical fiber cable.

Issues such as EMC-protection, grounding, and bonding are also covered. All designs are based on a FireWire connection according to IEEE 1394. After the two organizations merge, “all of these aspects will be brought into the Cable & Connector Working Group of the 1394 Trade Association for a final specification,” said the announcement. After the spec is completed “conversion into products will follow.”

1394automation will continue to further develop and disseminate the FireWire standard as a technical working group within the 1394 Trade Association. All members of 1394automation are invited to become 1394 TA members. According to James Snider, executive director of the 1394 Trade Association, "Motion control is the next field of work which the Trade Association will deal with. The European group has a lot of experience with FireWire in highly innovative, industrial control systems. Accordingly, I am very glad that by joining forces, we will soon be able to vastly advance the IEEE 1394 standard in the field of motion control."

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Frank J. Bartos, executive editor

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