25 Jul 2024


Advanced PLC targets demanding applications

At the recent SPS IPC Drives in Germany, ABB announced a high-performance, multi-processor version of its AC500 PLC, aimed at demanding machinery and motion automation, control and communication tasks. The AC500 PM595 Machinery Controller incorporates a 1.3GHz processor with four 32-bit RISC processors, an embedded double-precision floating-point processor, 16MB of user program memory, and an array of communications interfaces.

The controller can handle complex tasks such as precision coordinated multi-axis motion, and mathematically-intensive computation such as real-time trigonometric calculations for robotics and other advanced kinematic applications. A built-in interface allows ABB safety PLCs to be connected for high-risk applications requiring functional safety.

“Machinery and motion control applications are becoming much more complex as machinery becomes more capable, smarter and safer, and as demands for more sophisticated human interfaces and communications grows,” says ABB’s product marketing manager, Wangelis Porikis. “The sheer computational capability of the AC500 PM595, with its rich feature set and versatile communications capability, provides enormous flexibility for automation builders. It provides a controller that can handle virtually any application, but also one that is highly software-configurable – giving OEMs a single control platform for a very broad range of applications.”

The controller can be used  with legacy systems as well as today’s networks. It has four independent Ethernet interfaces and an integrated network switch. Two of the interfaces are programmable, supporting Ethernet-based protocols such as EtherCat and Profinet, and allowing the PLC to be connected simultaneously to two different networks. TCP/IP, UDP, CAN/CANopen and two RS-232/485 serial interfaces complete the on-board connections.

Further networking and fieldbus interfaces can be added via the PLC’s dual expansion ports. Users can evolve control networks easily, adding new machinery or equipment into their networks, even if located on another process line or location. The PLC is compatible with existing AC500 expansion modules.

The PLC uses non-volatile MRAM memory, and operates without fan cooling. A XC (eXtreme Conditions) variant is available which adds further protection against high and low temperatures, high humidity, low air pressure, salt mist and hazardous gases, and vibration and shock. It can cut costs by eliminating the need for complex protective enclosures with special seals, HVAC, shock absorbers, EMC protection, and so on.

The new PLC is compatible with ABB’s Automation Builder engineering environment which provides all of the tools needed to configure, program, debug and maintain automation projects via a common intuitive interface.

“PM595 offers control engineers a single platform for today’s and tomorrow’s applications,” adds Porikis. “The associated Automation Builder engineering tool completes the solution for developers and owners – providing the means to simplify control engineering and standardize on one development platform for all projects – regardless of scale.”

The new PLC is especially suitable for large-scale process control applications, delivering similar performance levels to an industrial PC, for example, but with a much higher level of robustness. Advanced multi-axis motion control is another target, with the PM595 being capable of controlling more than 64 motion axes within a 1ms cycle.

The communications and security capabilities of the PM595 make it suitable for telecontrol or Scada applications. The controller’s robustness, and the availability of a ruggedised variant, also allow it to be used for difficult applications, ranging from maintenance-free controllers in applications such as wind turbines, to safety-critical applications in equipment such as cranes, mining hoists or automatic guided vehicles.