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OOPS! We`ve made control programming easier

01 January, 2000

OOPS! We`ve made control programming easier

An American automation specialist has come up with a new programming technique that it says will make it easier and quicker to program control systems, and will cut the need for maintenance.

Control Technology Corp (CTC), originator of the Quickstep State Language for integrated machine control, says that its "object-oriented programming system" (OOPS) works in the same way as the machine it controls, making it easier for engineers to design a control strategy that will work in tandem with the machine.

The technique, which has just been granted a US patent, allows programmers to define devices in software and encapsulate each device with its own actions and characteristics. Once these encapsulated objects have been created, they can be re-used as modular blocks in other parts of the program.

"In designing machines with increasing complexity, the designer will modularise its components to simplify the process," CTC president Ken Crater told Drives & Controls.

"What we are doing with OOPS is similar - we modularise the program to make it more maintainable. This also improves our ability to test program components prior to full implementation, and we can re-use the code for other parts of the system.

"As a high-level development environment, sitting above the IEC 1131-3 standard languages, OOPS provides the ability for drive engineers to enter commands in a language they understand, like `turn servo 20 steps clockwise`, for example," he says.

Crater asserts that by simplifying complex programming tasks, OOPS will tackle what he regards as the remaining challenge in automation: "reducing the time and resources required to capture the value conferred by technological advances".

CTC plans to introduce OOPS products gradually over the coming three years, with the first commercial release due in about 18 months` time. It will be offered both as a soft controller and embedded into purpose-built software, primarily for machine control. Crater is also keen to licence the OOPS technology to other automation suppliers.

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