Enhanced development environment quickens time to market

In this Product Exclusive for CONTROL DESIGN, GE Fanuc's Proficy Machine Edition helps OEMs configure, program, and commission tools all in an integrated development environment.

IT'S SAID repeatedly these days that any new tools that promise to speed the development, configuration, and versatility of a machine control system will get close inspection from control system professionals in every machine builder industry segment.

Not only can the company bring its machines to market sooner, it can reduce the startup time during installation and be up and running more quickly. The sooner the machine runs, the sooner the customer starts to make money.  GE Fanuc Automation Americas says it knows how vital this is to industrial OEMs. In response, the company will introduce Proficy Machine Edition Version 5.50--a new version of its universal engineering development environment for all GE Fanuc controllers--during October this year. 

“OEMs improve competitiveness by streamlining and unifying their control applications,” says Mike Richards, manager of controller programming for GE Fanuc Automation. “Proficy Machine Edition helps get this done with configuration, programming, maintenance, and commissioning tools all in an integrated development environment.” 

Proficy Machine Edition Version 5.50 allows users to apply function block diagram (FBD) programming and write code with the tools that best describe their application. If users already are familiar with tools that represent process application languages, then applying FBD programming in Proficy Machine Edition can decrease training time and boost productivity. “The FBD program simplifies troubleshooting and takes advantage of functionality such as dynamic cross references, context-sensitive companion help, selected item properties tool, and a single project database,” says Richards.

In conjunction with the block architecture of the company’s PACSystems controllers, users can pick the best programming languages and application components for each portion of their application. This increases development flexibility and can foster a collaborative development environment among control programmers. In the case of a hybrid application that includes both discrete and process control--users can select programming languages to best suit each portion of the application. “Users might employ Ladder Diagram (LD) for the discrete portion of the application and then use FBD for the process portions,” says Richards. “The powerful function block architecture allows users to mix Ladder Diagram, FBD, Structured Text, and C Blocks as desired for each portion of their applications, as well as use object-oriented programming techniques to create application building blocks in terms of user-defined function blocks in any of the available IEC 61131-3 programming languages.”

Further, says Richards, the ability to configure PACSystems controllers with new symbolic IO variables allows OEMs to take advantage of the hierarchical I/O addressing convention to tie application variables directly to the points of an I/O module. “That reduces application development time by eliminating the need to map application variables to controller reference memory,” he adds. “This also eliminates the manual bookkeeping previously required to bind application variables to I/O modules.”

For example, a user can simply drag-and-drop an application variable named $E_STOP directly to the terminal of a discrete I/O module to provide linkage to the I/O and its hierarchical address, such as %IW0.5.0.7. “This easy-to-use functionality also speeds the development of applications that are being implemented by multiple control engineers,” adds Richards, “by eliminating the need to manage reference memory address ranges for each participant.” HMI applications also can access the I/O through the symbolic IO variable names without the internal reference address, which eliminates the need to synchronize tag databases between the HMI and the controller whenever an application variable is moved in the controller.

Other New Features:

  • A Monitor Mode provides Offline, Online Monitor, and Online Programmer modes of operation with the GE Fanuc controller. Monitor Mode lets maintenance personnel view the operation of the application without the risk of an unauthorized or accidental modification to the project or controller.
  • New support for Asian language character sets offers industrial OEMs the ability to address a broader global market with applications that are documented in the language of the local user.
  • An optional new user interface, based on Microsoft.NET technology, delivers productivity tools such as Window Auto-Hiding to maximize desktop real estate. 
  • Storage of supplemental files in the controller lets a machine builder store documentation (any type of file) in controller memory that also can be backed-up in on-board Flash. This eliminates the paper or electronic copies of information in the control cabinet that can be lost or damaged. A visiting service technician can be assured of having all the necessary information needed to debug or diagnose problems.

  About this Product

For more information, call 800/433-2682, e-mail gefanuc@gefanuc.com, or browse to www.gefanuc.com.

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