Targeting Low Cost PACs

January 7, 2010

3 Min Read
Targeting Low Cost PACs

AutomationDirect's Productivity3000 is a new programmableautomation controller (PAC) platform from the makers of the DirectLOGICPLC. That product family, well known by engineers as a low cost controller option,has shipped thousands of units since the early 1990s and has its roots in theGE Series One PLC a decade earlier.

Thenew platform combines more of the features and capabilities of a PC-basedcontrol system with that of a typical programmable logic controller (PLC). Itis a modular, rack-based system providing up to 116,000 I/O points with local,expansion and remote I/O bases and a full lineup of discrete, analog andspecialty I/O modules. A high-performance P3-550 CPU offers 50 Mbyte memory, sub-millisecondscan times (3 Kbytes of Boolean logic and 1Kbyte of I/O in less than 650 µsec) andseven built-in communication ports for just $599.

"TheProductivity3000 was not specifically designed with a programmable automation controllerin mind, but we found that our finished product was tailored for applicationspace currently occupied by PACs," says Jeff Payne, a product manager forAutomationDirect.

Paynesays what drove the development project was feedback from customers about shortcomingsin the existing product, the availability of new technology and the desire tomaintain its place as a low cost controller solution. Compared to the DirectLOGICline, the Productivity3000 product offers major upgrades.

"Built-incommunications capabilities have to be the first unique feature of theProductivity3000 that catches your attention," says Payne. With a total of sevencommunications ports on the CPU, the product offers USB and Ethernetprogramming options, Ethernet networking using the ModbusTCP protocol, serialModbus RTU support plus ASCII and custom protocol capabilities using the unit'sRS-232 and RS-485 ports. Also included is built-in support for expanding local I/O,the ability to master remote I/O and a USB data port that allows engineers tolog process data and transfer projects to and from the CPU.

AUSB local expansion port supports up to four additional I/O bases, while adedicated Ethernet remote I/O expansion port can connect up to 32 remote basegroups; each remote group supports up to four additional local bases, for over116,000 maximum I/O.

Anotherkey development is that the free downloadable ProductivitySuite programmingsoftware now features tag name based programming to simplify programdocumentation and eliminate many boundaries set by fixed memory addressingcommonly found in traditional PLCs. Advanced "fill-in-the-blank" function blockstyle instructions are also used to compliment the basic ladder logicinstructions.

Anothermajor difference from the DirectLOGIC product is the easy integration of thecompany's GS drives on the Ethernet remote I/O network. Using networked drives,engineers can connect to the CPU and the drives are automatically discovered inthe hardware configuration. The drives can be configured and saved into theuser's program, and they become part of the project file. Instructions withinthe controller make it easy to read and write data, or control drive operationwith the instructions inside the program rather than mapping Modbus registers.

DataWorxTMP3K data logging software provides an easy and inexpensive way to collect databy connecting it to enterprise database systems using SQL, MS-Access or anyODBC compatible database. Report-by-exception operation eases network trafficby sending information only when needed. It also allows the device completecontrol to store data to a computer database or to store it locally if the networkis down.

AutomationDirectalso has immediate plans for expanding the Productivity3000 product line withhigh speed input and output modules and also a new Ethernet and serialcommunications module.

The Productivity3000 product focuses on low cost, while adding communication and software enhancements. Photo:  AutomationDirect

Targeting Low Cost PACs A



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