Controllers: Advantech launches a new generation of PACs

Dual controllers separate HMI and software-based logic tasks, and a backup system enhances reliability for APAX-5000 series PACs.
By Renee Robbins November 12, 2009

Advantech PAC APAX 5000
The Industrial Automation Group of Advantech has introduced a new generation of programmable automation controller (PAC), the APAX-5000 series, which integrates control, information processing, and networking in a single system with a unique dual controller architecture.

Advantech’s APAX-5000 series consists of controllers, I/O modules, backplanes, and power modules and features a unique architecture: two standalone CPU modules working together, responsible for different tasks. One provides high computing power for HMI/SCADA, recipe, database and communication tasks (APAX-5570XPE or APAX-5571XPE), while the other is dedicated to software-based logic for I/O tasks (APAX-5520KW). This means that if the HMI/SCADA controller crashes, the I/O processing won’t be affected. Engineers can simply check the HMI/SCADA controller and maintain it, without having to worry about the I/O processing tasks. This can prevent unexpected stoppage, decreases operational risks, and ensures higher reliability for critical control tasks.

APAX-5000 controllers also support backup functions by storing the same I/O processing program on two controllers. One will execute the I/O processing and if that controller fails, the second controller will automatically take responsibility for I/O processing within 1.5 seconds. Users don’t need to write programs for this mechanism and the backup system enables reliability for critical applications, according to Advantech.

The APAX-5000 I/O modules are designed to be hot swapped when the system is powered-on and running. I/O modules are equipped to be either local I/O or remote I/O through their Ethernet bus backplane. APAX-5000 PAC offers one and two slot backplanes, each with one expansion port. Using a standard Ethernet cable to connect the expansion port on the two backplanes, a remote expansion with local-bus speed is built with a distance up to 100 m. In addition, any standard Ethernet switch can be used between the two backplanes.

The implementation of Ethernet switches not only enhances the flexibility of I/O expansion, it also increases the expansion distance. For example, if there are three Ethernet switches between two I/O stations, the expansion distance can be at least 400 m. (When fiber optic ports are available on the Ethernet switch, the distance can be much longer.) Therefore, users can build line, tree or star topologies for I/O expansion – all with fast local-bus speed.

The APAX series offers complete scalability functions that the system can easily upgrade by changing controller with difference processor (higher performance). This means users don’t need to re-write any program if they want to upgrade the system.

– Edited by Renee Robbins, senior editor
Control Engineering News Desk

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