Building Blocks Ease Machine Automation Tasks

Nov. 19, 2008
Connected Components Building Blocks Provide Information to Implement Common Control Tasks in Machine Design

Many stand-alone machine builders struggle with component cost constraints as well as with having the resources and expertise needed to implement control strategies. And to help satisfy these particular OEMs’ needs, Rockwell Automation demonstrated its range of Connected Components Building Blocks, or CCBBs, in the Essential Components booth at this week’s Automation Fair in Nashville, Tenn.

“These CCBBs help provide stand-alone machine builders with the information they need to quickly and easily implement common control tasks in their machine design,” said Amy Montes, components commercial programs manager.

A highlight of Rockwell Automation’s Essential Components display at Automation Fair is the Connected Components Wall, where the company’s, “just enough control” solutions for stand-alone machines are on display.

“CCBBs include pre-written blocks of application code for the PLC that can be modified to help meet the precise needs of a given machine, pre-written HMI programs to make setting up the operator interface easier, and pre-configured drive parameter files that take the strain out of implementing speed control tasks.”

In addition, said Montes, CCBBs help with product selection, panel layout and wiring diagrams, application profiles, quick- start guides and with generating a bill of materials for the project.

The exhibit showed examples of some of Rockwell’s best practices-based CCBB tools, which are available free on CD and include:

Configuration and Selection Tools: A variety of tools are available to simplify the sizing and selection of Rockwell Automation equipment. Starting Bills of Material allows easy selection of the exact features and ratings needed for your application.

System Design Literature: “The Application Profiles provide an overview of the various Building Blocks and the systems they can help to build,” said Montes. “The Quick Starts provide step-by-step guidance on how to use the templates and take advantage of them to accelerate machine design.”

Enclosure CAD Files: Users can start their design with a pre-configured panel built on best practices and adapt it to fit the needs of their particular machine. They use the supplied CAD drawings in .DXF format as a starting point to reduce design time.

Wiring Diagram CAD Files: Rockwell Automation believes wiring diagrams are an important part of the machine documentation package. Designers use the sample wiring diagrams in .DXF format as a basis for a documentation package and reduce the time spent on research, layout and drawing diagrams.

Controller Programming and HMI Application Files: These are provided to get up and running quickly while minimizing engineering and integration costs. “Basic pre-configured logic and HMI screen templates can be used for either base or custom applications,” said Montes. “The HMI screens include Network Monitoring, Component Status and Fault/Diagnostic Screens in multiple languages.”

Parameter Backup and Restore (PB&R): Many of the Building Blocks include PB&R capability, which enables the user to store and reload operational parameters without the need for a computer or special training.

Support Information: The CCBB CD provides literature and additional CAD drawings to make it easier to adapt the supplied drawings and programs to the specific needs of a particular machine. Designers can use the supplied links to search for additional documentation and CAD drawings of specific products that users want to add to their design.

Translations: The Building Blocks have much of their literature, HMI screens and program documentation translated into multiple languages. English, Portuguese, Italian, German, Spanish, Czech and Polish are available, with more to follow.

The newest member of the Allen-Bradley MicroLogix family of programmable controllers, the MicroLogix 1400 controller also was featured in the Essential Components exhibit area. It provides end users and OEMs with a higher I/O count, faster high-speed counter and pulse train output (PTO) and improved networking.

“Customer demand has shown the need for an affordable controller that provides a greater level of control and communication,” said Seung Ju Lee, MicroLogix product manager. “An embedded Ethernet port and two embedded serial ports with advanced communication protocols will provide the customer a valuable solution in many applications.”

The MicroLogix 1400 builds upon the features of the MicroLogix 1100 controller--online editing, EtherNet/IP and an embedded LCD--while providing the user with additional improvements. This new family of controllers is available with an embedded I/O count of up to 38 and can support up to seven additional I/O modules for a maximum of 144 discrete I/O points.

Other features include up to six embedded 100-kHz, high-speed counters and removable terminal blocks. MicroLogix 1400 can support up to 10,000 program words and 10,000 words for data, as well as a memory module for program backup and transport and data log or recipe-storing.

The MicroLogix 1400 is well-suited for general industrial machinery applications, HVAC and building automation, machines used in food, beverage and pharmaceutical manufacturing, commercial machinery, and applications using supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA).