User friendliness is the key to acceptance of automation solutions. But the challenge of making operation clear and simple grows, the more sophisticated the automation tasks become. In terms of engineering, it’s not just the hardware but the software implementation that’s particularly important – and if possible this should be in the user’s native language. Users aren’t the only people to benefit: design engineers can also reduce their effort significantly.
Until now, automation solutions have often been characterised by independent, standalone functions: safety technology, control technology, visualisation technology and motion control systems are independent systems. The large number of systems and architectures adds complexity to the plant control. And the larger the automation project and the more extensive the requirements, the more complex it will be for the user to handle.
In today’s centrally configured programmable logic controllers (PLC), changes in individual plant sections have far-reaching consequences at control level, because program structures at central points in the control system have to be modified. In terms of flexibility, re-usability and user-friendliness, classic automation architectures with centralised PLC controllers can no longer meet future requirements.
That’s why the automation of the future demands solutions that can distribute control intelligence but also guarantee that the necessary networking of multiple control systems remains easy for the user to handle.
Centralised view of a distributed system
That’s why Pilz developed the automation system PSS 4000. Whereas in classic automation a standalone, centralised control system monitors the plant or machine and processes all the signals, the PSS 4000 allows control functions to be distributed consistently. In detail, the automation system PSS 4000 consists of hardware and software components as well as the real-time Ethernet SafetyNET p and various programming editors designed for use in different sectors, with their application-oriented function blocks. The hardware includes control systems of various performance classes.
Process or control data, failsafe data and diagnostic information are exchanged and synchronised via Ethernet. For the control function, therefore, it makes no difference where the respective program section is processed. Instead of a centralised control system, the user has a program distributed in runtime within a centralised project. All network subscribers are configured, programmed and diagnosed via this software. This enables simple, standardised handling across the whole project.
Transferring functions to the software
The transfer of functions to the software brings users flexibility and scalability, reduces the variety of hardware types and simplifies maintenance and diagnostics on automation solutions. The question as to whether software can be used efficiently depends essentially on the user interface and the available languages – both in terms of human language and programming language.
PSS 4000 meets these challenges with the software platform PAS4000. Various editors and blocks are provided, which can be used for automation as well as safety-related tasks. In PAS4000, the tools for configuration, programming, commissioning and operation are closely compatible.
The ability of users to use their normal native language is important in terms of acceptance. As a result, the PAS Editors in the automation system PSS 4000 are not only available in English and German but also in Italian, Chinese, Spanish, French, Japanese and Portuguese, therefore providing a total of 8 different languages. The diversity of language is not just limited to the menu language but incorporates the whole of the help menu and installation support, as well as the whole System Description and Safety Manual.
The diversity of language in PAS4000 extends not only to human language but also to programming: that’s because there is a preference for individual programming languages, based on the application area, country or region.
One of the editors available to users in PAS4000 is the simple, block-based Program Editor PASmulti. PAS4000 also provides established editors for programming. These include editors for PLC programming (in accordance with EN/IEC 61131-3) for Instruction List (PAS IL) and Structured Text (PAS STL), as well as the new editor for Ladder Diagram (PAS LD). This can be used to create safety-related programs, programs for automation tasks or a combination of the two.
PAS4000 also provides the individual editors with a comprehensive library of pre-certified software blocks for position detection or general functions such as emergency stop, for example, to which users can add their own software blocks.
Different countries, different languages
The individual editors are used to varying degrees, depending on the country or region. While Instruction List or Structured Text is frequently used for programming in Europe, Structured Text is usually favoured in Australia. Programmers in USA and Japan, for example, prefer to use Ladder Diagram. Within the Pilz automation system the new Editor PAS LD can be freely combined with the other EN/IEC 61131-3 PLC programming languages, so that even complex automation tasks can be handled simply and consistently. All PAS Editors and programming languages have been classified as an LVL language (Limited Variability Language) by TÜV Süd, enabling users to resolve not only automation tasks but also safety-related tasks, without functional restrictions. So for the first time, machine builders can create safety-related application programs using their usual development process.
The programming environment of the graphics Program Editor is identical to that of editors designed in accordance with EN/IEC 61131-3, enabling simple operation. For example, customised software blocks written by users in PAS LD for safety-related and non-safety-related functions can be transferred to PASmulti without further ado. As a result, complex projects containing software components from various editors can be clearly structured.
Open for all protocols
In addition to the interfaces for man-machine communication, data exchange within the automation project also has an important role to play. The same applies: The more complex and extensive the project, the more important it is to have a standardised language. PSS 4000 also supports the diversity of language from a technical perspective: the control systems PSSuniversal PLC in the automation system PSS 4000 support the various communication protocols used depending on country and region, for example, the Profibus protocol, which is particularly widespread in Europe; Ethernet/IP, which is frequently used in the USA and Asia, as well as EtherCAT, CANopen and Modbus TCP. As a result, there is no problem exchanging data with the widest range of third-party control systems – irrespective of the country, region, sector or machine type.
PSS 4000: truly cosmopolitan
The increasing challenges faced by automation can be met using systems that can distribute intelligence but at the same time are user-friendly to control. As a result, the cost of engineering, commissioning and maintenance can be significantly reduced. The system’s openness and the wide range of languages make it easier to use in automation projects around the world. If local users can configure their machine in their native language and in their familiar programming environment, it simplifies the learning process and tool handling enormously, as well as increasing acceptance.
For machine builders it brings the additional benefit of using one hardware structure, and a software program that needs generating once only, to create automation solutions that can be used anywhere in the world.
Pilz India Pvt. Ltd
E-mail: [email protected]