When designing automation equipment, often times there may be different component manufacturers selected for separate aspects of the machine. In a conventional controls architecture structure, there is a separate HMI, PLC, motion controller, drive(s), motor(s), and safety equipment. These components can come from different manufacturers or possibly the same. In either case, maintaining multiple different components for discrete tasks can increase the complexity of the system.
For example, each station may require separate software which adds costs along with potential compatibility conflicts. Commissioning and service may also require special training along with individual software & licensing from different providers. When multiple manufacturers are used, an individual component supplier is only responsible for their product, and may be somewhat removed from the end performance goal of the system. The added complexities and associated costs can quickly add up and increase the risk that a machine designer incurs when creating a new controls architecture.
With an integrated automation system, these concerns can be eliminated. In this case, the PLC, HMI, and motion controller are an all-in-one package, eliminating the concern for compatibility issues. The I/O devices in this setup can include traditional digital and analog points, as well as safety IO and drives nodes. Each can be connected via Ethernet Powerlink (a truly deterministic ethernet based communication protocol). In an integrated system, safety compatibility is not a concern. In fact, in this setup, safety conforms to the openSAFETY standard and is capable of running safe and non-safe I/O together without a stand alone safety PLC.
Scalability: Another advantage in such a system is the scalability. For example, high performance motion control can be done directly in a standard B&R controller (alongside visualization and general automation tasks). If a single axis or a ten axes system is being built, the OEM or user customer can utilize the same controller platform and software. This secures investment and reduces hardware costs as your automation demands change. No longer must a controls software engineer rebuild a controls package from scratch simply because the machine needs have changed.
B&R’s Automation Studio 4.0 allows one software suite to program all components together at the same time including safety. This eliminates the need for expensive service contracts and software licenses from multiple vendors.
Service and support: This can be dramatically reduced with an integrated package due to B&R’s central data storage (CF card). The CF card stores system information like the HMI application, module firmware, drive OS, safety system, and recipes. If a integrated automation component, like a drive for example, needs to be replaced, the B&R controller will automatically populate the correct version of module firmware for the drive, with zero user intervention needed. This allows for simple and efficient maintenance.
Systems Diagnostic Manager: With the help of the internal SDM (system diagnostics manager), any component can be changed WITHOUT software. The new item is recognized and the appropriate firmware is downloaded.
For more information on how B&R’s integrated automation solution can help reduce your costs, make service easier and increase machine uptime, please contact us here to receive a personalized contact by an IFP Application Engineer: