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22 October, 2018

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Safety network controller is ‘first’ to support two protocols

28 August, 2018

Omron has announced a safety network controller that, it claims, is the first to support two safety protocols: CIP Safety (which adds safety functions to EtherNet/IP); and Functional Safety over EtherCat (FSoE). The NX-series controller provides modular safety control, avoiding the need to stop an entire production line for maintenance or when the layout is changed.

Omron says that it will make it easier to build and modify safety systems on production lines that produce a variety of products, as well as controlling systems safely at high speeds.

Omron argues that there is a growing need – especially for automotive and food manufacturers – to be able to change production line layouts flexibly to produce low-volume, high-mix products and to deal with short product lifecycles. However, with conventional safety controllers, they have to check the safety system for the entire line, even when changing just part of the line.

In addition, as the use of robots becomes more widespread and manufacturing sites are established in locations around the world, there is an increasing need to simplify the installation and maintenance of advanced safety systems because of the shortage of safety experts.

The new safety network controller  is designed to tackle these issues.

A typical installation consists of an NX-SL5500/5700 safety CPU, an NX-CSG320 communications controller, and an NX102 machine automation controller. This combination allows EtherNet/IP+CIP Safety and EtherCat+FSoE to be used simultaneously. It can provide real-time safety control of up to 12 motors via EtherCat+FSoE, while the NX-SL5700 safety CPU provides up to 254 CIP Safety connections, supporting safety systems for large production lines.

Two ways of using the safety network controller: for safety control of large systems (left); and for high-speed control of mid-sized systems (right), using CIP Safety and Safety over EtherCat

Systems can be configured quickly using Omron’s Sysmac Studio development environment. Offline simulation allows programs to be verified without needing to connect hardware, while online functional testing allows non-expert users to test safety systems, reducing the time taken from design to safety verification.

There is also a safety datalogging function that non-experts can use to identify the cause of sudden line stoppages. When this happens, specified variables can be stored on an SD memory card in a chronological order, helping to identify the cause of a stoppage and to determine preventive measures, thus helping to improve productivity.

A “safety unit restore” function allows hardware to be replaced easily without needing software.

A typical configuration of Omron's safety network controller



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