How automation, programming standards help upgrades, integration

Automation integration and programming has become easier for controls, motion and networking as result of efforts from OPC Foundation and PLCopen, as explained at Pack Expo Las Vegas 2023.

By Mark T. Hoske October 31, 2023
Courtesy: Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering

 

Learning Objectives

  • Understand how PLCopen helps make automation programming easier.
  • Examine ways in which OPC Foundation increases standardization to improve automation.

Automation, programming insights

  • PLCopen provides many tools that make automation programming easier.
  • OPC Foundation increases standardization to improve automation.

PLCopen makes automation programming easier

Efficiency in programming for industrial automation needs to improve, according to Eelco van der Wal, managing director, PLCopen, in a Pack Expo Las Vegas 2023 presentation.

Automation hardware and networking have advanced much more quickly than software programming capabilities. About year 2000, software became the most expensive part of production line, and advances in control software programming haven’t kept up, van der Wal said. If more than seven people are involved with programing, it becomes too complex to improve.

PLCopen aims to provide efficiency in automation with coding guidelines, a function block library to help with motion, safety and communications. Function blocks allow about 10 lines of code to replace 30,000 rungs of ladder code, which is not sustainable as application needs increase.

Programming efficiency has lagged behind hardware and networking advances applied to automation and controls, according to Eelco van der Wal, managing director, PLCopen, in a Pack Expo Las Vegas 2023 presentation.

Programming efficiency has lagged behind hardware and networking advances applied to automation and controls, according to Eelco van der Wal, managing director, PLCopen, in a Pack Expo Las Vegas 2023 presentation. Courtesy: Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering

Tools also provide troubleshooting, pointing out programming errors, which is much faster than manual troubleshooting.

PLCopen tools combining logic, motion and safety, structuring and reuse and training, communications for smarter automation, he said.

Together with OMAC and the OPC Foundation, PLCopen shows that their combined technologies and standards contribute even more to the industry. All three organizations have a focus to a different section of the production flow, however combine excellently with their vision, standards and activities.

Cooperation includes:

  • Mapping of OMAC PackML state diagram to IEC 61131-3 control programming languages

  • Application examples with PLCopen motion control

  • Explanation of the combined technologies of PLCopen and OPC Foundation

  • PLCopen coding guidelines, function block libraries and guidelines for object-oriented programming.

OPC Foundation increases standardization applicable for automation

A working group of experts is looking at OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA) use with the metaverse, by creating a data model for information exchange with augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR) and virtual reality (VR) devices, said Mike Clark, OPC Foundation director North America. No standard way of information transfer is used, creating data-exchange challenges.

Automation and controls applications benefit when OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA) integrates a common data model for information exchange, suggested Mike Clark, OPC Foundation director North America, at Pack Expo Las Vegas 2023.

Automation and controls applications benefit when OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA) integrates a common data model for information exchange, suggested Mike Clark, OPC Foundation director North America, at Pack Expo Las Vegas 2023. Courtesy: Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering

Many OPC Foundation events are planned for 2024, Clark said, including the A3 Automate show, which starts May 6, 2024. The traveling wall of OPC UA devices (photo) and capabilities also will be displayed at the SPS show, starting Nov. 14 and at Hannover Messe, starting April 22.

OPC Foundation Field Level Communications (FLC) specification is available along with a new version of the OPC Foundation Conformance Test Tool (CCT) became available in September for testing of the OPC UA FX (field-level communications) specifications, expanding to automated testing for 90% to 95% of OPC UA FX specification. See more about OPC Foundation specifications.

Mark T. Hoske is content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media and Technology, mhoske@cfemedia.com.

KEYWORDS: Automation integration, control system programming

CONSIDER THIS

Is your organization modernizing its use of programming and standards to improve automation upgrades and effectiveness?


Author Bio: Mark Hoske has been Control Engineering editor/content manager since 1994 and in a leadership role since 1999, covering all major areas: control systems, networking and information systems, control equipment and energy, and system integration, everything that comprises or facilitates the control loop. He has been writing about technology since 1987, writing professionally since 1982, and has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism degree from UW-Madison.