DRIVES AND CONTROLLERS

Drives and Controls was as much about PLCs, SCADA and integration as drives. We’d expected some launches at last month’s Drives and Controls Show in Telford. We weren’t disappointed; if anything perhaps surprised at the numbers and scale. Visitors were privy to several unveilings – and certainly not only in the field supposedly defined by […]

Drives and Controls was as much about PLCs, SCADA and integration as drives.

We’d expected some launches at last month’s Drives and Controls Show in Telford. We weren’t disappointed; if anything perhaps surprised at the numbers and scale. Visitors were privy to several unveilings – and certainly not only in the field supposedly defined by drives and controls.

First up on the Schneider stand was a new PLC, the Modicon TSX Premium – joining the existing Quantum, Micro and Nano ranges. It’s a mid range PLC, between the Micro and the Quantum – the launch device offering 80 analogue and 1,024 digital I/O, plus six smart modules.

Peter Reeve, Schneider’s marketing manager, said that while there are similarities with Micro, the Premium also uses a multi-processor architecture and IEC 1158 fieldbus backplane to distribute I/O to 100m.

`The message from Schneider is that by selecting Premium there’s no need to worry about which fieldbus wins because it’s backplane is based on the IEC 1158 standard’, said Reeve. `The Premium also already complies with the current IEC 1131-5 comms standard’, he added.

As for programming, Premium offers four of the five IEC 1131-3 languages; Function Block Diagram will be added soon. Development is in the Windows 3.1 or 95 environments.

Meanwhile, the company also warned DCS developers to `watch your backs!’ Reeve said that its Modicon Concept v2.0 software for the Quantum offers the fastest remote I/O in the industry. Again, it’s IEC 1131-3 compliant.

On the subject of fieldbus, Honeywell’s stand covered enhancements to SDS, the Smart Distributed System device level fieldbus. Version 2.0 of its PC control software now includes features claimed to increase productivity, with real time control on Windows NT and 3.1.

There’s also now SmartLink, a universal interface which, when inserted into a connector gives any sensor all the intelligence of an SDS device – including programmable functions and diagnostics. You get low cost connection of `virtually any sensor’.

Flexible programming

Moving on, star of Cegelec Industrial Controls’ stand was its Control Systems Workbench software, Alspa P80 v2.0 – which now features very comprehensive programming and commissioning libraries.

David Slingsby, PLC manager, said: `P80 is designed for Windows 95/NT, so it’s instantly familiar. With v2.0, we now have one-time data entry and on-line help. P80 is compatible with relational databases, SQL and OLE.’

There are multiple program and configuration libraries, plus controls on data access and modification. There’s also Wizards and storage for useful programs, segments and hardware configurations. Working with the device is as graphical or textural as you want.

On the business front, Charles Burch, marketing director, said that formation of new company, Cegelec AEG Systems and Automation, following the company’s recent acquisition of AEG’s automation division, now makes it a truly global player.

Siemens next – and this was another big stand. Centrepiece was a sweet factory simulation harnessing a range of Siemens products – from Simatic S7 programmable controllers and NT/95-based SCADA systems to vision systems and Profibus and AS-Interface fieldbus.

Most important, the company launched its Micro/Midi Master sensorless vector drive. The device, which covers the range 120W to 75kW, features self-tuning and includes a PC interface.

Rockwell used the Show to introduce everything from SCADA and software technologies to MMIs and drives. Its 1336 Plus sensorless vector drive now has v4.0 firmware, claimed to boost low speed torque performance – to 260% starting and acceleration torque. Rockwell says that it developed the firmware to enable users to more closely size motors and drives.

Omron’s stand also oozed total control. On the drives side, its contribution was CE marking of the 3G3FV sensorless flux vector inverter (for speed accuracy and torque) and the 3G3HV three phase inverter (general speed control).

IMO too had some interesting stars – including a new range of fieldbus options for its VX inverters. On display, controlling two drives from a laptop, were its Interbus-S and Profibus DP fieldbus options.

The company also revealed the modular Nexus 11 PLC – latest in its new range, with eight to 128 I/O. Features include simple programming, 3kword memory, 256 timers and counters. It’s a classic `relay replacement-plus’.

Star of HID’s stand was a new big drive – the Hitachi JE300, covering 132-500kW, using sensorless flux vector. It’s aimed at the utilities – for fan, pump and similar duties.

Eurotherm also entered the big drives world – the company released details of its drives, now with quadrupled output to 355kW. It also showed its smart card facility for set-up, configuration storage and cloning on its 601 series drives.

ABB is our next stop – with two significant launches, both in drives. First was the company’s entry into low cost, small drives. Ian Rennie, general manager, said: `ACS 100 is aimed at OEMs, contractors and panel builders.’ Rated from 0.37 to 2.2kW, the drives extend ABB’s coverage downwards from its existing ACS 200, 300, etc.

Second, ABB pronounced its Drive Tools software the first to support the a.c. drives life cycle. There are four packages – covering specifying and engineering, through commissioning and maintenance, to service support of the ACS 600 range. Rennie: `These tools are unique; this is a major launch for ABB!’

Smaller is beautiful

Back on small drives, and Toshiba showed its S7 which it claims is `the easiest drive to install and set up’. The device features automatic tuning and menu programming – with six keys. It provides sensorless flux vector performance with over 150% torque from start-up.

Then, on the business front, among the highest profile announcements was Mitsubishi’s and SMC Pneumatics’ declaration of a strategic alliance. SMC becomes an approved systems integrator in Mitsubishi’s just-launched Systems Integrator Partnership Programme.

Steve Bangs, sales and operations director for SMC said that OEMs and end users want integrated proven controls and systems from a single source. He felt that the partnership cold provide that.

For its own part, Mitsubishi championed its new PLC Systems Integrators programme and its Drive Systems Centres. It also previewed over 20 inverters, a top of the range MMI, the `world’s smallest PLC’ (FXOS) and a new process control system dubbed simply `Q’.

Details on Q are as yet sketchy – expect the official unveiling soon. However, we did glean that it’s a big dual system capable of handling 128 parallel processors and 1 million I/O with 0.075microsec cycle time.

As for the inverters, most interesting was the A140E. This device has built-in PI for more advanced pump or fan control on setpoint maintenance duty. Then the E710 MAC MMI is a keyboard-less device encased in steel. Programming is Windows-based, and you can create static and dynamic graphics, etc. Blocks, text and graphics can also be copied between projects.