Low-cost nanocontrollers, programming software target standalone machines
Allen-Bradley Micro800 PLC family and free Connected Components Workbench software from Rockwell Automation (NYSE: ROK) give machine builders affordable convenience and ease of use, the company said, while providing just enough control capability to match lower-end applications.
The small-sized controllers scale to offer 10 points to 48 points (see comparison tables), targeting original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Plug-in modules personalize Micro800 controller capabilities, so the customer only has to pay for needed capabilities. Applications include:
- Lighting control
- Heating and cooling
- Material handling
Rick Sykora, product marketing manager, controller software, Rockwell Automation (photo), told CFE Media on June 13 that the controller offers “greater value for stand-alone machines for machine builders that’s price competitive with just-enough control, scaled in a way to do what need.” In its simplest form, the sub-$100 nanocontroller allows Rockwell Automation to address volume markets, he noted.
The component-class micro programmable controllers and Connected Components Workbench software are easy to configure, install, and maintain, and are designed to be used with other Allen-Bradley component class products, such as drives, motion control, and operator interface products. Together, the offering helps ease selection, installation and commissioning of low-cost, standalone machines.
Machine builders need economical, convenient control solutions they can customize to suit their customers’ specific application needs, according to Paul Gieschen, market development director, Rockwell Automation. The new line offers the functionality and flexibility of a micro programmable logic controller for the price of a smart relay.
Suited for standalone machine applications with fewer than 48 I/O points, the initial launch consists of two controllers, the Allen-Bradley Micro810 and Micro830 controllers, and the software.
The controllers have embedded USB and serial ports for rapid programming and linking to human-machine interfaces (HMI) and other serial devices, to minimize selection and installation for OEMs and the total cost of ownership for end users.
The offer a wide-range of plug-in modules for analog/digital I/O, communications and an expanded memory module; Rockwell partners have been invited to develop additional offerings, Sykora said. Plug-in modules enable machine builders to personalize the controllers to increase functionality without expanding the product footprint. The new controller family also offers removable terminal blocks (most models) and simplified communication via point-to-point data exchange.
Connected Components Workbench software follows IEC-61131 standards (three languages are supported: ladder diagram, function block diagram and structured text), and the software can configure PowerFlex drives and PanelView Component HMI products. The software uses Rockwell Automation and Microsoft Visual Studio technology and shares data with the HMI editor for PanelView Component operator products. The programming software features run-time download, which enables live program adjustments. (MicroLogix only offers ladder, Sykora said.)
The smallest controller, the Allen-Bradley Micro810 programmable logic controller, features embedded smart relay function blocks that can be configured from a 1.5-inch LCD and keypad. The function blocks include Delay OFF/ON Timer, Time of Day, Time of Week and Time of Year for applications requiring a programmable timer and lighting control.
Allen-Bradley Micro830 programmable logic controller provides flexible communications and up to six, high-speed counter inputs. It incorporates up to five plug-in modules on the 48-point models, with four available bases. An optional power supply converts 240 ac or 120 ac to 24 V.
They carry global certifications and support.
Machine builders seek solutions that are priced to provide essential capabilities and feature convenient, easy-to-use programming and configuration tools that minimize set-up and start-up times to maximize their profitability, said Craig Resnick, research director, ARC Advisory Group.
Micro810 and Micro830 controllers are available. Additional plug-in capabilities for the controllers will be available later this year, the company said.
Allen-Bradley Connect Components Workbench software comes in two versions: Standard, which can be downloaded for free and Developer, which features run-time download, user-defined function blocks and controller simulation. A DVD is available, if local Internet speed doesn’t support the download, Sykora added. Support for EtherNet/IP, the ODVA Ethernet protocol, is planned.
Rockwell Automation Inc. said it is the world’s largest company dedicated to industrial automation and information. It is headquartered in Milwaukee, Wis., and employs about 19,000 people serving customers in more than 80 countries.
– Mark T. Hoske, CFE Media, Control Engineering, www.controleng.com, edited from a June 2 release and a June 13 interview.
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