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Modules plug gaps left by obsolete Rockwell controls

13 April, 2017

Two US companies have stepped in to offer substitutes for controls products that Rockwell Automation has made obsolete. Real Time Automation is offering a replacement for the Allen-Bradley 1761-NET-AIC communications interface, which Rockwell discontinued in January, while AMCI (Advanced Micro Controls Inc) has an alternative for the Allen-Bradley 1746-HSTP1 motion module for SLC500 PLCs, also made obsolete recently.

Rockwell has announced that it is ending (or has already ended) production of several ageing controls lines. For example, its 1747 SLC 5/01 and 5/02 series controllers are no longer being produced and they will be joined in June by its MicroLogix 1500 controllers, and in August, 2018, by the Bulletin 1746 SLC 5/03 8K series. Rockwell is recommending that users migrate to the newer CompactLogix 5370 or 5380 control platforms.

Rockwell is also axing several PLC communications interfaces, including the Bulletin 1761-NET-ENIW Ethernet/IP module, which was discontinued in 2015, and the Bulletin 1761-NET-ENI, whose life ended in January this year, along with that of the Bulletin 1761-NET-AIC DH-485 communication interface.

Real Time Automation says that some manufacturing systems are in jeopardy because of the obsoleting of the 1761-NET-AIC module and that many control engineers and other factory-floor users “will be relieved” to see its new 515-RTA-AIC replacement module. The plug-and-play module, which provides the same ports with identical pin-outs to the 1761-NET-AIC, is designed to meet the serial conversion needs of several Rockwell PLC families. It supports the point-to-point isolator mode, RS-232 to RS-485 isolator modes, and more.

“Many Allen-Bradley customers who use SLC, PLC 5 and MicroLogix families of serial programmable controllers, are very worried about how to support their legacy control systems,” suggests RTA president, John Rinaldi. “The 515-RTA-AIC gives those users breathing room – the ability to run those systems well into the future.

“There is no ROI for upgrading controllers if you can’t increase speed, quality or efficiency,” he adds. “In many of these systems, there isn’t any justification or funds for upgrades like this. The 515RTAAIC is going to be welcome news in many manufacturing facilities.”

AMCI's 3501-HSTP1 motion module (right) is a drop-in replacement for Rockwell Automation's recently-retired Allen-Bradley 1746-HSTP1 device (left)

AMCI’s 3501-HSTP1 single-axis stepper motor controller is a direct replacement for the Allen-Bradley 1746-HSTP1 motion module for discontinued SLC500 PLCs. AMCI produced the original 1746-HSTP1 for Rockwell for more than 20 years, and is licensed to sell the replacement module, which is referenced in Rockwell’s PartnerNetwork Encompass program.

The module controls the position and velocity of a stepper motor, and includes discrete inputs for functions such as homing and emergency stops.  It can also control a servo system that has been configured to use step and direction inputs.

The 3501-HSTP1 is a drop-in replacement for the Allen Bradley 1746-HSTP1, and is said to behave like its predecessor, and to use the same programming software.

“Customers with old installations can be assured that the replacement module is the same, and will work – the only thing that has changed is the label,” says AMCI’s motion control products manager, Matt Tellier. “Users will get the same level of product quality, and will benefit from working with us directly.”

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