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Safety controllers integrate with standard I/O and motion

18 June, 2013

Omron in Japan has released more information about the NX range of safety controllers that integrate with its EtherCat-linked Sysmac modular automation platform which combines motion, standard I/O, and safety controls.

A preliminary announcement about the NX system was made last year.

When used with Omron’s NJ automation controllers and Sysmac Studio automation software, the NX safety controllers provide high-speed motion control and safety control in an integrated engineering environment. They are claimed to cut machine design and safety verification work, to reduce downtime, and to save space in control panels.

The safety controllers support the Safety-over-EtherCat protocol, allowing safety control data and standard machine control data (including motion) to be carried on one EtherCat network. The EtherCat slaves use the same modular design as the standard NX I/O for sequence control, allowing flexible connections between safety CPUs, safety I/O and standard I/O.

The safety inputs can be connected directly to safety sensors and safety switches, and the safety outputs to servodrives and inverters with safety functions. This reduces the work needed to specify safety devices and to test connectivity. If Omron safety devices are used for inputs, logic, and outputs, it is said to be easy to evaluate the performance level (PL).

Omron’s Sysmac Studio automation software now includes programming for safety control, which is integrated with sequence and motion control. Previously, safety control had to be designed separately.

The software supports the IEC 61131-3 function block diagram language, cutting programming effort and simplifying the sharing of programs. The modular safety programs can be re-used, and the amount of device verification work needed to validate systems can be reduced.

Omron's NX Safety controllers share the same EtherCat network as standard Sysmac NJ controllers

Global programming variables with easy-to-understand names help to reduce errors when designing complex interfaces between components such as I/O, motion and safety devices.

Unified troubleshooting for safety applications is now available using the Sysmac Studio software. Because safety systems control the machine control power circuits, any errors could halt production. The unified troubleshooting helps to identify the location and timing of any problems and how to resolve them, thus reducing machine downtime.

The safety I/Os can be added or removed without needing tools or a PC. Parameters are set by an “automatic configuration restore” function. When a connection is established, the parameters are transferred automatically from the safety controller to the safety I/O.

The 12mm-wide safety I/Os are about 70% smaller than Omron's existing GX series remote I/Os for EtherCat, reducing system and the control panel sizes.

The new safety controllers are designed to meet PLe / SIL 3. They support up to 256 safety I/O points and 32 safety master connections, and have a 512kB program capacity. Safety inputs are available in four or eight-input versions, and safety outputs in two- or four-point versions.

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