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`Open` distributed I/O system talks to almost anything
Published:  01 September, 2003

`Open` distributed I/O system talks to almost anything

Schneider Electric has developed a modular, distributed I/O system, based on open technologies, which can be connected to a variety of fieldbuses and to non-Schneider products. The Telemecanique Advantys STB (smart terminal block) system allows I/O to be mixed and matched down to as few as two points of control, thus saving the space and costs of unused I/O points.

The open, plug-and-play architecture requires just one fieldbus node to distribute I/O across an entire machine, and can interface with fieldbuses including Ethernet, Profibus DP, DeviceNet, CANopen, Interbus, Modbus Plus and FIPIO. The system`s core "network interface module", or NIM, can support up to 32 I/O modules.

High-speed logic solving, with a response time of 1-3ms, can be performed locally at the I/O points, independently of a PLC master. This allows limited control to be maintained if the fieldbus fails.

The use of separate power supplies for input and output devices eliminates the need for extra terminals and protection devices. The supplies, which have built-in over-current protection, also isolate AC and DC voltage groups for operation at 24V DC or 110/230V AC.

Advantys STB ( shown above) uses a combination of techniques to cut commissioning and maintenance times. Removable, snap-in field-wiring connectors allow pre-wiring of I/O, and components can be "hot swapped" without needing to shut down the system.

The IP20, DIN-rail-mounting I/O modules are configured automatically when they are installed. They can also be customised using a Windows-based package that offers more configuration options and can program the local control functions. The software can be used to: plan and design a system; configure I/O groups; check power and configuration settings; simulate and test I/O characteristics before going online; create documentation; and perform on-line diagnostics and troubleshooting.

As well as allowing direct "plug-and-play" connections to many of Schneider`s own products — including motor starters, HMIs, variable speed drives, and I/O — the Advantys STB system can also integrate with third-party products, such as encoders, sensors, actuators, hydraulics and pneumatics. This is done via the CANopen bus which it uses as its backplane protocol.

Data from an installation can be accessed locally via an HMI connected to the system`s serial ports, or remotely via an Ethernet interface module and a Web browser.

Next year, an integrated safety management system will be added to the Advantys STB system, to provide diagnostics back to the fieldbus PLC.

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