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`Embedded automation` is a new class of control

01 April, 2006

`Embedded automation` is a new class of controls

Siemens claims have to have come up with a new class of control technology that combines the openness of PC-based automation with the ruggedness of PLCs. The company`s maintenance-free Simatic Embedded Automation devices, due to be unveiled at this month`s Hannover Fair, will come in Microbox PC or Panel PC formats.

The devices (shown above) use the Windows XP Embedded operating system and incorporate PC interfaces. They have no fans or hard drives, and store data on CompactFlash cards.

The first product in the new family is a combined PLC and motion controller called the Microbox 420-T. This has a software PLC which provides dynamic motion control and it uses PLCopen-compliant motion control blocks for tasks such as curve synchronisation, path- or time-dependent cam control, print-mark correction, and position control of hydraulic axes.

An optional extension to Siemens` Step 7 programming software supports the configuration and paramaterisation of up to 64 "technology objects", consisting of up to 32 axes, 32 cams, 32 cam plates, 16 probes, or 16 external sensors. The controller has an isochronous Profibus DP interface that supports the DP drive profile. There is also a second Profibus interface, as well as Ethernet, USB, COM and DVI/VGA ports.

A second new arrival the compact Microbox 420-RTX, designed to provide PLC functions. This controller has two Ethernet interfaces, one Profibus interface, three PC/104-Plus slots, and connections for four USB devices, a monitor and an RS-232 device.

The third development is a 75mm-deep panel PC which will be available in two versions. The first (Panel PC 477-HMI) comes with Simatic WinCC visualisation software supporting up to 2,048 "power tags". The second (Panel PC 477-HMI/RTX) adds a software PLC. The panel PCs have Profibus and Ethernet interfaces and are designed for installation in locations, such as control cabinets, where space is limited.

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