Increasing Sophistication with Automation Software

November 5, 2007

5 Min Read
Increasing Sophistication with Automation Software

When Wonderware InTouch reaches Version 10.0, it’s a tribute to software developers creating all types of automation control software. As an industry group, these companies have written millions of lines of code in pursuit of more powerful, easy to use and elegant software solutions. It’s a trend that reaches across powerful software packages for HMIs, SCADA and data analysis to integrated development tools that help users manage every aspect of machine and motion control development projects.

The goal has always been to provide engineers with a comprehensive set of compatible tools that use a common “look and feel” and simplify all types of automation control tasks. Software, and lots of it, is the glue that makes these complex systems work and provides a user interface and display tools that make data useful.

The newest software and latest versions are no different, as automation software suppliers continue to refine the state-of-the-art and offer increasing power and sophistication.


MPX is a simplified motion programming library for the Microsoft Visual Basic .NET application development tool. With MPX, users can quickly create multi-axis motion, I/O and graphical user interface (GUI) automation programs.

Compatible with Danaher Motion’s SynqNet® motion controllers, MPX supports servo and stepper multi-axis motion control via SynqNet, high-speed I/O commands, system event management and TCP/IP remote access, as well as a suite of PID and PIV control algorithms. MPX also supports real-time data recording for system analysis and optimization, including the ability to monitor internal drive variables such as current output. It is compatible with MechaWare for developing custom control algorithms and the utility library includes GUI controls.

Visual Basic .NET provides debugging and auto-complete features not found in proprietary motion programming environments. Users will be able to easily create programs for coordinated motion, point-to-point motion, pause-on-path motion, on-the-fly motion modification, velocity motion and streaming point (PT, PVT, splines) motion.


A new human-machine interface (HMI) solution from Parker Electromechanical Automation leverages the wide availability of the Internet and Web browsing software to enable distributed HMI software, remote support and application sharing. The CTC-brand Interact Xpress™ combines a graphical runtime interface with HMI development tools that can be accessed from either the HMI panel or a PC Windows® desktop.

HMI applications are developed, edited, published and run in a browser-based environment, allowing users and OEMs to publish upgrades and applications to any global location with an Internet connection and a Web browser. Web integration simplifies implementation of remote diagnosis for support of machinery anywhere in the world.

HMI applications can be served and edited remotely in real time. The HMI designer/editor is able to support multiple runtime versions, eliminating version control management issues. Development tools can be used offline to work on applications when a live Internet connection is not available.


Beckhoff Automation has announced full EtherNet/IP compatibility for its TwinCAT IEC 6 1131-3 compliant software. Using TwinCAT EtherNet/IP Slave (available in Windows XP and CE variants), one standard software package can communicate seamlessly with all Beckhoff devices including industrial PCs, embedded PCs and PLCs, as well as EtherNet/IP master devices from other vendors.

EtherNet/IP has been fully integrated into the TwinCAT programming environment, allowing for graphical linking of mapped data to PLC tasks. The software acts as an intelligent gateway system by using integrated EtherNet/IP communication and PLC functionality. The BK9105 bus coupler facilitates this communication.

TwinCAT supports other major fieldbus networks including DeviceNet, PROFIBUS, SERCOS, CANopen, Ethernet TCP/IP and others. It allows automation technologies to be easily integrated with a non-Beckhoff EtherNet/IP master device on machines and share data without restriction. EtherNet/IP system designers can now take full advantage of Beckhoff technology without isolating machine modules already equipped with third party devices.


Steeplechase VLC software from Phoenix Contact now offers seamless integration with the SynqNet™ motion network. A SynqNet-based system with Steeplechase VLC and the RapidCode VLC driver can control up to 256 axes of motion from a single runtime program. SynqNet provides synchronized, plug-and-play motion devices from a range of servo manufacturers.

The new software provides a single programming environment for real-time motion control and eliminates analog wiring and handshaking between PCs, stand-alone controllers and motor amplifiers.

The RapidCode VLC driver, developed by Robotic Systems Integration, provides VLC programmers a common set of system motion commands such as jogging, point-to-point positioning, position tracking, contouring, linear and circular interpolation and electronic gearing. Pre-defined axis I/O provide typical axis status information such as axis position, position error, speed, torque and over-travel limits.

The SynqNet motion network is designed to meet demanding motion applications and industry trends toward interoperable, digital machinery.


SIMATIC WinCC from Siemens provides a process visualization system for stand-alone workstations, to scalable client/server and Web-based clients. Coupling SCADA functionality with plant intelligence options, operations can achieve a high level of data transparency and process optimization.

The system is designed to intelligently use information to improve a company’s processes, reduce costs and prevent scrap. The visualization platform provides a wide range of display and evaluation functions and, for example, both statistical functions for message/measured value archives and an integrated “historian” for acquiring important production data.

Additional SIMATIC WinCC options, WinCC/Audit and SIMATIC Logon, comply with good engineering practices and the requirements of 21 CFR Part 11 from the U.S. FDA in the pharmaceuticals industry and the requirements of EU 178/2002 in the food and beverage industries. These options make it considerably easier to validate plants, track production processes and provide comprehensive tools within these industry segments.

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