Rockwell Offers New Bundle of Machine Control Design Tools
Screenshots from a new bundle of machine control tools from Rockwell Automation that offers an all-in-one solution for designers of machine control applications. The Connected Components Accelerator Toolkit includes an entire set of automation engineering design tools for machine control app development, the company said. (Source: Rockwell Automation)
As in any new product, someone has to come up to speed in the learning curve. Is this so expensive only huge companies can afford it, or can a regular street engineer get a copy and make himself useful?
In efforts like this, companies tend to stick to a proprietary system. Its initiatives like this that keep innovative ideas out of the public's hands. They don't have to go open source, but how about a generalized software package? Something like what universal CAM software packages can do already. For example, many CAM packages can handle brand name machining centers as well as DIY machines.
Cabe, the Connected Components product line is PLCs and HMIs (low cost, entry level) and the software package (Connected Components WorkBench, Selection Toolbox).
The industrial controls market works differently than the CAM market. Siemens does not make software to run Rockwell PLCs, Omron does not make software to run Siemens hardware, etc.
While there IS a standard for coding (IEC 61131-3), in the USA I've seen very little successful porting from one platform to another.
There's almost no desire from end users to have the ability to switch from one PLC platform to another. They standarize on one. They get better pricing from distributors that way.
In theory, OEMs would see a benefit from this platform-neutral coding (they can build a machine with Rockwell hardware for one customer, and Siemens for another, and not have to change the code), in reality it's not that simple. The OEM ends up having to deal with twice the document managment (a fundimental design change means doing it twice, or more).
ttemple, computers have been "taking over" factory automation for more than two decades. They offer huge possibilities, but haven't made proper inroads in the field because of their poor reliability.
No end user company is going to rely on a computer for a mission critical process. No municipality would rely on one for their waste-water or drinking-water processes. No power company would rely on one for dam control. All of these functions have to work, day in, day out, day after day, year after year, without needing to "reboot" every so often (sometimes every day). Computers do not offer such reliability for system control.
They're great for supervisory functions, but not for the actual process control. There, PLCs reign.
I said ""real" computer languages". I didn't say anything about the hardware.
A PLC is a computer. Bad code in a PLC will fail just as fast as bad code in any other computer. "real" computer languages could be supported on PLC's.
In my opinion, "Ladder Logic" is a language that does nothing to promote writing "good" code. It is very easy to write code that is frought with side effects, and difficult to write reliable code. (My opinion, based upon my own experiences and observations)
I understand why a company wants to be proprietary with their products (so they can make more money), but it drives me crazy when there are standards that they defeat in order to make people have to stay with their hardware. I used to do a lot of IEEE programming and while most GPIB cards could be swapped out - one specific company insisted on making it impossible without buying special software drivers from them or you were stuck with their specific software package. I see what some folks are saying - basically, "dance with the one that brung ya" but that isn't always possible. I am in favor of universal platforms as much as possible. I was thrilled when I was working on a microcontroller project and I could program a DS5000 with the same code that I wrote for an 8751 (okay, I know that isn't really realistic but in the early 90s it was) - why can't we all just get along?
I assume you are talking about our Mark V Turbo Retro Encabulator, as we have ceased production of the Mark IV. But, all of our recent models can still be found on Ebay.
You may be impressed by the new features offered in the Mark V. You no longer have to plug it in to AC power, as in the Mark IV and below, plus the efficiency tabulated in the Mark V is over 200% and the extra energy emmitted can be extracted to run most households, farms, and small communities.
@warren, you realize of course your Mark V will be in direct competition with the Government Motors power plant that uses old junk Volt batteries to power local areas (another recent design news article, I'm serious). When I read that article I wondered if they could use the Volt batteries from garages that burned down or cars that caught fire on the street? I advise you to not tangle with GM.
On a related note, I started putting many gasoline saving devices in my Mustang GT. Spark plugs that increase efficiency 20%, air intake another 30%, a spoiler, another 30%, high performance oil filter, another 20%, and lastly synthetic oil another 20%. As I drive 60 miles round trip to work, I now have to drain between 5 and 10 gallons per week from the tank! Now I'm looking at adding a device made from Unobtainium oxide, which fit on the fuel injector rails that they promise a 40% milage increase. My fear is that I'll turn my little hotrod into a Volt failure lookalike.
If we fail to have a sense of humor we will end up like the majority of the population.
Did I ever tell you guys about the time that I ........
Warren, the Connected Components Workbench is Rockwell's response to customer complaints about the cost of their software.
How much? It's FREE! My company is a Rockwell Automation Solution Partner. To us, this is astounding.
A Rockwell distributor might have a test rig that you could borrow, but the cost of the components (entry level PLC, HMI, etc) are reasonable enough that buying them yourself is not out of the question.
The Connected Components product line is geared towards OEMs and entry level needs. Get beyond those and and you're back into the higher end and more expensive product lines.
My experience with Rockwells "Accelerator Toolkits" is that they're good for your first project; they provide a great framework in which to learn the intracacies of the product. At the end of it though, the Accelerator Toolkit adds a LOT of overhead that can be cumbersome to troubleshoot. After that first project, you'll know what you can keep and what you can jettison.
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