Innovative I/O Solutions

November 5, 2007

3 Min Read
Innovative I/O Solutions

Controllers are using innovative methods for implementing logic control on machines, combining I/O functions and automation control software into effective solutions for factory automation. Suppliers are utilizing embedded control platforms to provide flexible approaches to logic control, while also providing both expansion options and support for factory networking protocols.

I/O controllers are also increasingly integrating solutions for analog, digital and serial control with motion. As more processing power is available within the I/O controllers, suppliers have the ability to use these resources to implement functions such as stepper motor control and other types of control loops within these products.

Software provides the interface that makes it easy to implement these solutions. By unifying development tools for all of these functions in a single programming environment, it makes it easier for users to develop and manage applications.


Two new embedded controller platforms from Phoenix Contact, the S-MAX 50xx VLC and ILC 350 VLC, provide powerful control features and Steeplechase VLC flow-chart programming for low-cost control applications.

The controllers combine secure PLC control functions with PC-based performance, capacity and connectivity options. Steeplechase VLC version 7.0 offers sub-millisecond logic scans and intuitive flow chart programming that accelerates design, installation and system launch. HMI software options for the S-MAX and the industrial PCs include Citect HMI or Iconics MachineWorX.

For applications requiring local I/O expansion options, the new blind-node ILC 350 VLC offers direct connection to Phoenix Contact's modular INLINE I/O system. The integrated Ethernet port supports multiple protocols such as MODBUS TCP. The master capability allows for the easy design of Ethernet-based I/O solutions.

The S-MAX 50xx VLC combines the functions of a PLC and a color touch screen operator panel in one compact unit.


The SNAP motion subsystem from Opto 22 is designed for applications that require motion control along with analog, digital and serial control. Motion control is combined with process control, sequential logic, string and data handling, math and networking in a single platform. The Opto 22 PAC programming environment provides a single development tool for control, motion, data acquisition and monitoring.

A motion host communication module, a breakout board and the OptoMotion command library provide an integrated set of tools that simplify application development where multi-axis stepper motor control is combined with traditional analog, digital and serial-based automation and control. Each host module is capable of communicating with up to 16 axes of stepper motion. Up to four breakout boards, using intelligent Magellan®-based motion processors, accommodate up to 4 axes of stepper motion each. Breakout boards drive motors based on commands received serially from the host, so the system acts as a distributed, intelligent system.


The Soloist™ single-axis servo controller from Aerotech combines a power supply, amplifier, positioning and I/O control in a single package. Controlling up to four tasks simultaneously, as well as handling variables and managing I/O, allows the unit to perform demanding production applications. The Soloist™ has high-speed position latch inputs and advanced data logging capabilities for laboratory and test instrument applications.

The controllers can drive a wide range of motors including brushless, dc servo and microsteppers. Sinusoidal commutation of brushless motors minimizes torque ripple. A digital servo loop with feedforward tightly tracks velocity and position trajectories with virtually zero error. On-board auto-tuning simplifies servo tuning.

Using variables and math capability, one program produces a variety of parts by simply prompting the user for new application data or users can teach positions using a digitizing joystick. The ability to specify “user units” makes it easy to create custom units for both linear and rotary applications.

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