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Open core software will give OEMs more freedom

27 December, 2012
Rescuers check a flooded area of Rosalie in Brisbane, the Queensland capital.
Photograph: Dave Hunt/EPA

At the recent SPS/IPC/Drives show in Germany, Bosch Rexroth unveiled a concept, called “open core engineering”, which, it says, will provide OEMs with new possibilities for developing their own software functions. The idea is to “build a bridge between traditional software engineering and the new information technologies, carrying some fresh ideas into the PLC-based world of automation which OEMs will also want to take advantage of”.

According to Rexroth, IEC 61131-3-based engineering is “reaching its limits”. The new Open Core interface enhances software engineering – which until now has focused on PLC automation – allowing it to work with applications based on high-level languages.

Open Core uses software tools and function toolkits based on open standards such as Sercos, OPC-UA and PLCopen. It connects PLC and IT automation, allowing OEMs to access the control cores of Rexroth’s IndraMotion MLC and IndraLogic XLC systems from applications based on high-level languages. This will allow them to design customised systems more easily, and at a lower cost than before.

OEMs will be free to choose their platform – PC, controller or smart device – and their programming language. They can use high-level languages to write their own software functions which then run as low-level real-time applications on the controller, or in non-real-time on external devices such as PCs and smartphones.

The Open Core interface supports Apple`s iOS and Google`s Android operating system. According to Rexroth, the future will bring new ways for humans to communicate with machines that are more user-friendly, flexible and intuitive. With Open Core, OEMs can develop Java-based applications as native apps, integrate smartphones into their automation process, and support machine operators with new diagnostic and operating concepts. The native applications will run on a smartphone or tablet, with the machine programs remaining untouched.

“Being efficient is no longer sufficient,” says Rexroth senior vice-president, Lucas Wintjes. “OEMs want to set themselves apart from the competition by offering customised software functions and machine concepts that offer the user specific benefits. In the future, software engineering must therefore give OEMs a maximum degree of freedom for them to realise their ideas – including when it comes to integrating new information technologies.”

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