Combined controller streamlines IIoT

Logix control engine and Windows 10 IoT Enterprise operating system run on same Intel Quad Core i7 CPU

When you have a good foundation, you can construct something cool on it, especially if it's something your community really needs. In the case of Rockwell Automation's ControlLogix and CompactLogix systems, building on the long experience of the controllers and software is enabling the company to start filling the persistent gap between traditional, proprietary control architectures and CPUs and more recent, third-party, commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) microprocessors and devices.

The result is the new Allen-Bradley CompactLogix 5480 programmable controller, which combines a Logix control engine and Microsoft Windows 10 IoT Enterprise operating system in an Intel CPU-based platform, according to Jason Shaw, global product manager for controllers at Rockwell Automation. This new programmable controller runs Logix control and Windows 10 in parallel, allowing users to view equipment and application data at their source, and make better decisions.

"In the past, if users wanted to run PLCs, PACs and other devices in conjunction with COTS CPUs and other components, it required a lot of integration to provide the value of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) in the manufacturing space," says Shaw. "The CompactLogix 5480 controller addresses this performance gap because it's a true IIoT device that uses an Intel Quad Core i7 CPU to run Rockwell Automation's high-performance, real-time control engine and a COTS operating system at the same time. This provides insights close to where they’re produced, enabling users to make smarter, faster operating decisions, react better to issues, and increase productivity."

Though it was challenging to combine the Logix architecture and technology with Intel i7 and Microsoft for the first time, Shaw explains, "We relied heavily on the design engineers and our other partners at Intel and Microsoft to learn what would be happening in this chipset, and integrate their IP under the hood. This was a different design, so we had to be cautious at the outset, and make certain it was developed correctly."

Consequently, from a functional standpoint, CompactLogix 5480can reduce latency by performing real-time data collection at the device level, and users can view control information at its source, while other data can be sent upstream to the enterprise or cloud. Its ability to run Windows applications on-premise can also reduce the need for a separate PC on the plant floor and shrink equipment footprints. The controller also incorporates multiple security functions, including user authentication and authorization, role-based access, and digitally signed encryption. And, because its Windows operating system runs independently from the control engine, any disruptions to the operating system won't affect machine or line control.

"The CompactLogix 5480 can be used for line control and supervisory control," adds Shaw. "It can run software packages like Rockwell Automation's FactoryTalk software  or Windows-based ThinManager software. This controller supports up to 250 nodes of components networked by EtherNet/IP, as well as up to 150 axes of motion."

On its hardware and communications side, CompactLogix 5480 possesses four Gigabit Ethernet ports, including three EtherNet/IP ports for real-time Logix and one for dedicated network interfacing by Windows 10 IoT. These interfaces can display industrial monitoring connections, while its two USB 3.0 ports allow connections to computing peripherals and other devices. The CompactLogix 5480 is also equipped with Rockwell Automation's standard 0-60 °C temperature operating range for its controllers.

"Overall, the CompactLogix 5480 provides true information technology/operations technology (IT/OT) functionality at the device and production levels where their information is first generated and resides," concludes Shaw. "We believe this is the best, most efficient way to turn data into valuable, actionable knowledge for users and their enterprises. The CompactLogix 5480 is a true expression of Rockwell Automation's vision for The Connected Enterprise."

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