22 Jul 2024


Schneider unveils a new generation of controls

At the recent SPS IPC Drives show in Germany, Schneider Electric previewed a new a generation of controls that includes three new general-purpose controllers, a motion controller, a PAC (programmable automation controller), a servodrive, a new version of the company’s SoMachine automation software platform, and a “process expert system” (PES) package that combines PLC/Scada functions with energy management. The produdcts (some of which are shown below) will be marketed under the banner MachineStruxure, the Next Generation.

The three general-purpose controllers together form a family called Modicon M2X which is part of the MachineStruxure portfolio. They share an expansion bus claimed to be ten times faster than conventional systems. The controllers are:

• The entry-level Modicon M221 (below) – a 24 I/O logic controller for basic hard-wired applications, claimed to offer best-in-class performance. It includes two analogue inputs, Ethernet, USB and serial ports, and an SD memory card slot. It can be expanded using up to 14 modules including motor starters, safety modules, and analogue and digital I/O. Up to two servo amplifiers can be connected without needing a fieldbus network.

• The more powerful Modicon M241 is based on a dual-core processor and supports CANopen communications. A built-in Web server allows remote access via mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

• The Modicon M251 (below), which is aimed at distributed architecture applications, replaces the I/O terminal array of the first two M2X controllers with ports for two different Ethernet networks and has a built-in Ethernet switch. An alternative version incorporates a CANopen master interface (supporting up to 63 slaves), along with one Ethernet port and an Ethernet switch.

As well as the high-speed expansion bus (called Modicon TM3) for I/O and safety modules on the right-hand side of the Modicon M241 and 251 controllers, they also accept up to three stackable communications modules on their left-hand sides using a bus called Modicon TM4.

The next controller in Schneider’s new line-up is the previously announced Modicon M580 PAC, which Schneider claims is the first controller to have Ethernet at its core.

The new Modicon LMC078 (below) is a motion controller that can handle up to eight axes of motion and incorporates an IEC 61131-3-compliant PLC that can process 1,000 instructions in 5µs. The controller can store up to 254 programmable electronic cams with cam cycle times of 250µs. It can be used to control simple packaging machines as well as machine tools, and accepts standard G code, supporting up to three interpolated axes. Built-in interfaces include Sercos, CANopen and Ethernet, and expansion cards are available for Profibus DP (master/slave) and Ethernet IP (scanner/adapter). Also built in are 12 digital inputs and eight digital outputs.

Another element is Schneider’s new line-up is a new servodrive, called the Lexium 28 (below), which slots between its Lexium 23 and 32 Plus models, and incorporates functions from the higher-specification model such as load sharing, a DC link connection, embedded safety, and auto-tuning. The drives, spanning the power range 0.05–4.5kW, offer speed and torque control and can be linked to the new generation of controllers (M221, 241, 251 and LMC058) via CANopen. They incorporate analogue and digital I/O and Safe Torque Off functions to SIL 2 / PL d.

Schneider has also expanded its PacDrive family which now starts with the LMC100C PLC-based controller and includes dedicated models for applications from four to 16 axes. The ILM62 servodrives with integrated servo controllers and central PSUs can now be used to control up to 45 daisy-chained motors via connection modules, without needing intermediate distribution boxes. 

With the latest version (4.0) of its CoDeSys-based SoMachine automation platform for PLCs, HMIs and inverters, Schneider has enhanced the ergonomics, thus making the software easier to use, and cutting configuration times.

Finally, Schneider has announced a software package, called PlantStruxure Process Expert System (PES), which combines PLC, Scada and DCS functions with energy management data in a single integrated platform. The package uses an open Ethernet architecture, process-related object libraries and a central database, and is designed to optimise production processes and energy use.

By standardising and re-using applications, the PES package is claimed to cut project-planning costs by up to 25%. Input of data and parameters is done centrally, and the software’s standard libraries can be extended and customised to suit users’ needs. Data is collected and presented in a single system-wide format that gives operators a complete picture of the production process. Schneider claims that the energy management functions can achieve savings of up to 30%.

The new Schneider Electric products are due to start reaching the market within the next few months. “There will be more to talk about than in recent years,” says Dr Elie Belbel, Schneider’s senior vice-president for machine solutions in Germany. “With MachineStruxure, the Next Generation, we manifest again our claim to be among the trendsetters of industrial automation, internationally.”