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28 JANUARY 2011 CONTROL ENGINEERING www.controleng.

com
C
ontroller-based applications face a
divergence when selecting a con-
troller: Simplicity and ruggedness,
or openness and functionality? In
math, thats called indetermina-
cy, but in automation, the engineer should know
what controller feature set is best for the appli-
cation, no matter what you call the logic device.
In 2001, when ARC Advisory Group Ana-
lyst Craig Resnick proposed the new term for
the new class of controller (PAC, programmable
automation controllers), the acronym was coined
on the basis of market observations. Functional-
ity of programmable controllers was extended by
the main global automation vendors.
Vendors use the PAC acronym to describe a
class of products conforming in design and mar-
ket positioning with similar hardwaresoftware
architecture philosophy. Because there are a
wide variety of feature sets, it has become dif-
ficult to definitively classify each controller as
either a PLC or a PAC. Even a small PLC can be
programmed with the use of the automatic code
generation tool from Matlab/Simulink. The same
controller, given 8 GB to 32 GB of data mem-
ory, thanks to the compact flash (CF) interface,
can be a data acquisition and analyzing tool for
predictive maintenance of the machine. The same
controller, thanks to virtual interface technology,
can be changed into the remote gateway for the
whole process.
PAC definition
Programmable automation controllers (PACs)
are known for the following main features, dif-
ferentiating them in functionality from a typical
PLC:
Multidomain functionalitylogic, motion,
continuous control systems can be designed with
the same hardware platform.
Single multidiscipline development plat-
Krzysztof Pietrusewicz, PhD, and Lukasz Urbanski, MSc, West Pomeranian University of Technology
BalancingPLCs
andPACs, andIPCs
Do you need a PLC, PAC, or IPC for your next control application? Will programmable
logic controllers (PLCs) evolve into programmable automation controllers (PACs) or
industrial PCs (IPCs)? Whatever the name, get the best features and software for
your control applications.
cover story
AutomationDirect Click micro brick PLCs with
standard CPU units have eight discrete inputs
and six discrete outputs, available in four com-
binations of built-in I/O types. Bottom: GE Intel-
ligent Platforms PACSystems RX3i controller, a
programmable automation controller (PAC) with
RX3i, has one control engine and a universal
programming environment.
www.controleng.com CONTROL ENGINEERING JANUARY 2011 29
formdata tags are stored in a common database.
One tool for every programming taskcon-
trol logic, motion control, HMI design for more
than one machine in a process.
Open, modular architecture lets the engi-
neer use only the equipment he need.
Use of many communication standards
(from asynchronical to deterministic ones) and
many programming languages (consistent with
IEC 61131-3 as well as the higher level program-
ming languages)the engineer can design a
multivendor system simply and efficiently.
But as PLC technology has emerged, some
companies look at PLC and PAC differences and
choose to use the PAC acronym for their prod-
ucts, even without offering all the features men-
tioned above.
Many things have changed for programmable
controllers since 2002:
Openness of communication standards is
typical with PLC functionality.
More tools are IEC 61131-3 compliant,
extending the normative list of programming lan-
guages (IL, LAD, ST, SFC, FBD) with ANSI C
or even C++ and C#.
Small controllers are equipped with a large
amount of data memory (8 GB and more).
Ethernet TCP/IP has become the most pop-
ular programming interface for PLCs.
Software architecture of PLCs is based on
the real-time deterministic multitasking operat-
ing systems.
Given the blending of features, it is difficult
to define which controllers are PACs and which
are PLCs. The simplest definition says that a
PAC combines PC elasticity and functionality
with the ruggedness of a PLC.
PAC controllers combine PC and PLC hard-
ware/software architecture, offering flexibility
and ruggedness in one efficient system.
Two-system operation
Users in recent years have built applications
within two operating systems architectures.
Examples include Beckhoff Automation (Twin-
CAT PLC under Microsoft Windows XP Profes-
sional) and Bernecker & Rainer (AR010 system
under Microsoft Windows XP Professional),
among others.
National Instruments PXI series controllers
are available in two-boot operating systems ver-
sionsreal-time and embedded, with Microsoft
Windows XP Professional and with Microsoft
Windows 7. This design can be booted only in
PLC hardware architecture
IEC61131-3 programming
one or more language
(IL, LAD, SFC, ST, FBD)
I/O Communication bus
(internal data exchange)
Real-time
operating system
Central processing
unit (shorter instruction list)
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PC hardware architecture
Software
(created by users)
I/O Communication bus
(internal data exchange)
General use operating
system (i.e. MS Windows)
Central processing
unit (wider instruction list)
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PC-RT hardware architecture
IEC61131-3 programming
one or more language
(IL, LAD, SFC, ST, FBD); software
(created by users, C++, C#)
I/O Communication bus
(internal data exchange)
Central processing
unit (wider instruction list)
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General use
operating system
(i.e. MS Windows)
Real-time
operating
system
PAC controllers
combine PC and
PLC hardware/
software archi-
tecture, offering
flexibility and rug-
gedness in one
efficient system.
National Instruments PXI series controllers are available in
two-boot operating systems versionsreal-time and embed-
ded, with Microsoft Windows XP Professional and with
Microsoft Windows 7. This design can be booted only in one
system mode, different from what the figure shows.
30 JANUARY 2011 CONTROL ENGINEERING www.controleng.com
one system mode, different from what the fig-
ure shows.
Functionality, classification
As the functionality of PLCs has been extend-
ed and newer control technologies have been
introduced, the range of controller definitions
needs to be reevaluated since 2001.
An increasing number of engineering tools
are modernized to comply with the Micro-
soft Windows 7 32-bit operating system. Fewer
64-bit computers are used, but it hasnt been
a problem. The first updates of the program-
ming tools (for development of control applica-
tions) for the Microsoft Windows 7 system were
released in mid-2010.
Development tools for programmable con-
trollers will continue to receive updates in 2011.
Other companies also are working on the 64-bit
versions of their tools, with most upgrades
expected to be complete by year end.
Automatic code generation
The number of programming tools consistent
with IEC 61131 programming languages contin-
ues to increase. Users can program applications
with more than just a ladder diagram computa-
tion model, typically with three or more languag-
es, including structured text.
New programming software offers new
opportunities, such as automatic code generation
for programmable controllers. This functionality
allows users familiar with the MathWorks Mat-
lab/Simulink environment to rapidly design and
implement control algorithms within the con-
trol tasks. Research and development of control
strategies is one of the main areas of opportunity
for new products. Shortening the time to mar-
ket of new product development is the reason
for employing the mechatronic approach, also
known as the model-based design.
Tools for automatic code generation are list-
ed, with a list of controllers for which they are
designed.
Future of control systems
How will control systems evolve? Automa-
tion vendors are incorporating safety technolo-
gy in their systems. More are integrating motion
Ruggedness and hardware reliability
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Programmable automation
controllers
Programmable logic
controllers
Personal
computers
Ruggedness and hardware reliability
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Programmable automation
controllers
Programmable logic
controllers
Personal
computers
FPGA
FPGA + SOPC
hybrid: FGPA + MCU
PACs in 2001: Automation suppliers continue to improve the PLC to serve
market opportunities and specific user needs. Additional functionalities have
allowed a new class of system to emerge. Programmable automation control-
lers offer open industry standards, extended domain functionality, a common
development platform, and advanced capabilities. ARC Advisory Group has
coined this new term to help users define their application needs and manu-
facturers to more clearly communicate the capabilities of their products, said
Craig Resnick, ARC Advisory Group, in 2001.
PACs in 2011: Thanks to the functionality of two-system operation (such as
TwinCAT from Beckhoff Automation and AR010 from Bernecker & Rainer
[B&R], among others), personal computers obtained the same control soft-
ware functionality (with much more cost-efficient resources) as the PACs.
Ruggedness and hardware reliability remain at a level comparable to that
of a couple years ago. PLC software functionality increases year by year.
Modern PLCs offer the whole galaxy of modules proper for every applica-
tion. FPGAs (field programmable gate arrays), with their modern and flexible
engineering tools, let the user (with combination of system on a program-
mable chipsoftware-based processors implemented in FPGAs) implement
even programmable logic controller architectures. Software functionality
is the same, but typically FPGA development tools are delivered without
CE approval, so the ruggedness has to be fulfilled by the user with proper
enclosuresdesigned individually for the application. Within these modules,
two are the most known: Alteras Cyclone/Stratix FPGA series with Nios II
Software Processor (here one can find Alteras DSP Builder Toolbox for rapid
prototyping of control functionalities within the Matlab/Simulink environment
from Mathworks), and Xilinxs Virtex and Spartan series FPGA with Micro-
Blaze soft processor (also with the Matlab/Simulink automatic code genera-
tion tool called System Generator for DSP). New hardware microcontrollers
with FPGAs are on the market (Example: SmartFusion2 from Actel).
See more PLCs and PACs,
p. 32, with views on the
future of controllers.
cover story
www.controleng.com CONTROL ENGINEERING JANUARY 2011 31
Name
Supported
targets
Description, website
M-Target
for Simulink
Bachmann M1
(PC Based)
www.bachmann.info
M-Target for Simulink enables the use of Simulink and other
toolboxes from the product family for automatic generation of
executable real-time programs for the Bachmann M1 automa-
tion system.
B&R
Automation
Studio Target
for Simulink
Bernecker &
Rainer
www.mathworks.com
B&R Automation Studio Target for Simulink provides an easy-
to-use but powerful solution for implementing advanced closed-
loop controllers on B&R hardware. Providing an additional
Simulink blockset for variable and parameter exchange, B&R
Automation Studio Target for Simulink supports the whole range
of B&R hardware for integrated automation.
M2F Interface
Fix32/iFix
environment
www.inteco.com.pl
M2F establishes a data exchange link between the Fix32/iFix
and Matlab/Simulink environments. M2F includes Fix database
blocks, which embed the executable modules inside the Fix
database and process data in real time under the control of the
Fix scheduler as specified by the source Simulink model. Tasks
can be rapidly prototyped and applied to process Fix database
signals in real time, such as design and implementation of
digital filters, FFT calculation, design and tuning of advanced
controllers, finite state machine implementation, and fuzzy and
neural data processing.
The M2F package is designed for Fix32 and iFix users who wish
to apply complex and sophisticated Fix database signal pro-
cessing. The robust set of functions available in Matlab/Simulink
significantly extends the data processing capabilities of the
Fix environment. Matlab can be applied to online Fix database
processing. Simulink and Real-Time Workshop can be used for
automatic generation of stand-alone executable modules.
TwinCAT 3
Integrated
Beckhoff www.beckhoff.com
In TwinCAT 3, Beckhoff introduces the newest software genera-
tion for PC-based control technology that will expand the world
of automation with many powerful new functions. The broad
term for this new technology is eXtended Automation (XA).
Name Supported targets Description, website
Mathworks PLC
Coder
3S-Smart Software Solutions CoDeSys 2.3, 3.3
B&R Automation Studio 3.0
Beckhoff TwinCAT 2.11
KW-Software Multiprog 5.0
PLCopen XML 2.01
Rockwell Automation RSlogix 5000 17, 18
Siemens Simatic Step 7 IDE 5.4
www.mathworks.com/products/sl-plc-coder/
Simulink PLC Coder generates hardware-independent IEC 61131 structured
text from Simulink models, Stateflow charts, and Embedded Matlab functions.
The structured text is generated in PLCopen XML and other file formats that
support integrated development environments (IDEs).
M2PLC Interface
GE Fanuc Series 90-30 PLC equipped with FPU
module or Series 90-70 PLC. (VersaPro ver.2 or
Simplicity Control)
www.inteco.com.pl
The M2PLC extends PLC functionality with new data processing algorithms by
enabling you to use Simulink as a modeling environment and transfer those
algorithms to the PLC. Simulink graphical blocks make design of control and
data processing algorithms fast and easy. Logic blocks, FSMs, neural network
blocks, filters, and different structure controllers can be developed and trans-
lated to C code using Real-Time Workshop. M2PLC automatically generates
PLC executable files from the Real-Time Workshop generated code, which
become blocks in a PLC ladder diagram folder.
The M2PLC interface fully integrates a system-level design environment with
industrial PLC applications. It is a perfect tool for designers who need to apply
complex data processing and control methods to a PLC environment.
PLC Link
Supported targets
3S CoDeSys
Bachmann M-PLC
Beckhoff TwinCAT
KW-Software Multiprog
Phoenix Contact PCWorX
Siemens Simatic Step7
IecEdit
Rockwell Automation RSLogix5000
www.deifwindpower.com
PLC Link is an automatic code generator and tool chain for speeding up
development of advanced control systems targeting IEC61131-3 PLCs using
The MathWorks Matlab and Simulink for simulation and environment for
Model-Based Design.
control functional-
ity in available pro-
gramming tools.
Rapid prototyping
is the most innovative
method of evolution, and appli-
cations also will accommodate that function-
ality. In 2020, control architectures will be so
open that there will be no problem with inter-
changing control solutions and hardware mod-
ules from different vendors, maybe even on the
level of processors and programming tools. This
may speed the natural evolution of todays con-
tinuing expansion of object-oriented program-
ming tools. Tools will decrease in importance as
the team of programmers work more efficiently
to solve problems, which is the promise of mod-
ern control systems. ce
Krzysztof Pietrusewicz, PhD, is assistant pro-
fessor at the Control Engineering and Robotics
chair, Faculty of Electrical Engineering at the
West Pomeranian University of Technology, Szc-
zecin, Poland, and contributor to Control Engi-
neering Polana. Lukas: Urbanski, MSc, is a PhD
student at the Faculty of Electrical Engineer-
ing, West Pomeranian University of Technology.
Rockwell Automations
Allen-Bradley Control-
Logix L73 and L75 Pro-
grammable Automation
Controllers integrate pro-
cess, discrete and motion
control capabilities.
Human-machine interfaces
can integrate industrial PCs
or PLCs. The B&R Indus-
trial Automation Panel PC
725 can be used directly on
machines.
Phoenix Contact Nanoline PLC has a base
station. The nLC-055s four-function math
capability and integrated analog inputs
increases flexibility.
Beckhoff Automation CX5000
Embedded PC has energy-saving
Intel Atom technology, up to 1.6
GHz processing power, rugged
magnesium housing, and resists
EMC.
NI cRIO-9025 embedded real-
time controller with extended
temperature range uses an
FPGA (reconfigurable) and Lab-
View graphical programming
software.
The Siemens Simatic S7-1200 controller and HMI Basic panel programmable
have one engineering software package. See application info online.
Opto 22 Snap-PAC-R1-W
Wired+Wireless Program-
mable Automation Control-
ler offers IEEE 802.11a/b/g
Wi-Fi wireless networking and
wired Ethernet networking.
32 JANUARY 2011 CONTROL ENGINEERING www.controleng.com
More about these and other controllers:
www.controleng.com/new-products/plcs-and-pacs.html
Choose the right programming language
http://bit.ly/hM9Bq3
How to choose a controller http://bit.ly/i8Soun
www.ab.com
www.automationdirect.com/click-plc
www.beckhoffautomation.com/cx5000
www.br-automation.com
www.ge-ip.com/PACSystems
www.ni.com/compactrio
www.opto22.com
www.phoenixcontact.com
www.usa.siemens.com/s7-1200
cover story