Model-Based Automation Software

DN Staff

February 23, 2010

3 Min Read
Model-Based Automation Software

Thetrend to model-based software development is making an impact in the field ofindustrial automation. Using B&RAutomation Studio Target for SimulinkA(R), development modelsconstructed in the simulation environment provided by The MathWorks can be implementedon a B&R industrial controller at the push of a button.

"The key innovation is the ability to interface the codeautomatically generated from Simulink tools directly into the B&RAutomation Suite's development environment," says Robert Muehlfellner,automation director for B&R Industrial Automation.

He says that models developed in Simulink, plus the codeautomatically generated out of the models, can be seamlessly executed on theB&R controls in real time. This capability is built on Real-Time Workshop,one of the components of MatLab Simulink, which generates C code.

"It allows us to use our ability to have our controls to beprogrammed in C, which is uncommon in the controls world with PLCs or PACs,"says Muehlfellner. "From Simulink, a real-time task is created that can beexecuted within our controls. In the Simulink toolbox, the user defines inputand output variables which can be tagged to I/O points or used by visualizationtools. Users see the model executed on the control as a black box."

Once models are built and mapped into the automationarchitecture, inputs, outputs and other control parameters represented as tagssense changes within the model. Other functions in the model are compiled intoa C program which can be executed in real time on the B&R controls, and isintegrated with other control tasks using the input and output tags.

Users of Simulink's Real-Time Workshop are typically workingon a much lower level, and can leverage the product's automatic code generationalgorithms. But the idea is to combine the best of both worlds - classicalPLC-type programming and seamless integration of the C modules generated bySimulink.

The target for this solution is more complex processes inareas such as the automotive and semiconductor industries that benefit fromadvanced model-based design. Engineering is done typically by process engineerscomfortable with programming in Simulink, and the C code encapsulated for usewithin the B&R controls programming environment cannot be easily modified. Interfacingis achieved using the input and output tags, and can be accomplished using eitherladder logic or structured text programming.

Advanced simulation is particularly useful for applicationswhere users need to create sophisticated process control models or rapidprototyping. If a process requires special cascaded control loops or real-time,process engineering gauges, engineers often turn to advanced simulation toolsto draft their control algorithms. But it can be difficult when they need toconvey that information to a controls engineer who implements a solution in PLCcode, tests the code on a real machine, gathers results and makes adjustmentsto the code using an iterative process.

"The problem of conveying what needs to be done, from the science to thecontrols engineering, is no longer an issue," says Muehlfellner. "The coreprocess can be drafted using the tool kits available in Simulink. Thesimulation tool can be used to automatically generate the control code which theuser can execute in real time on the controller, view results and test thesystem instantaneously."
B&R's Automation Studio Target for Simulink uses automatic generation of software models as C code to create a seamless link to its automation controls.

Model-Based Automation Software

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