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Growing Automation-Software Connection

Connecting software applications such as simulation and modeling to automation has been talked about, and even implemented in specific instances, for years. But the topic has gathered quite a bit of steam recently.

At Hannover Fair this year, Siemens made news with its focus on software-enabled concurrent engineering. This initiative by Siemens will center on expansion of its TIA (Totally Integrated Automation) Portal to includes its PLM (product lifecycle management) software, as well as its MES and HMI software. The company's vision is to enable a combined product and production lifecycle using a joint data model, allowing all software applications to access the same database for concurrency. You can access the full news article on this announcement from Siemens here.

This week, Maplesoft and B&R announced a partnership aimed at hardware-in-the-loop simulations (wherein actual plant control operations are included in the development and testing of real-time embedded systems of automated devices).

B&R's programming and development software -- Automation Studio -- is built on an open architecture, which reportedly allows for the physical models designed in Maplesoft's MapleSim simulation software to be transferred to B&R's controller hardware. According to the Maplesoft, the result is a hardware-in-the-loop simulation that emulates a machine's behavior in real time, in a safe testing environment before rolling it onto the production floor for use.

"Using MapleSim, Automation Studio users can develop high-fidelity models of the control plant, analyze the dynamics, and then generate optimized, real-time code for the plant," said Dr. Laurent Bernardin, vice president, Research and Development, Maplesoft.

The alliance with MapleSoft is not B&R's first venture into connecting simulation and automation. The company also has a relationship with Mathworks, using Simulink to transfer automatically generated source codes to machine control systems. To enable this, B&R created Automation Studio Target for Simulink, which gives product and systems designers an interface though which to connect B&R's Automation Studio with Mathworks' MatLab, Simulink and Stateflow software.

You can access an article explaining how OEMs can use Automation Studio for Simulink to generate PLC source code here.

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