Modularity for embedded machine control

When making choices about machine controls, nearly every machine builder and its customers agree on one thing: machines have to be more modular and the controls more compact and more distributed.

The eAutomation Group of Advantech now offers a product line aimed directly at those needs in embedded machine automation applications. The Amax embedded automation series of hardware and software products features a unified form-factor with a rugged casing, customizable function blocks, vertical DIN-rail mounted design, front-access I/O and detachable terminal blocks.

"The form-factor is designed for machine builders," says Peishan Juan, product manager for Amax. "We minimized the size of controller platform to avoid having to put it in the control cabinet. The design makes for easy access and maintenance. Even the motor drive form-factor makes optimum use of space inside a control cabinet."

The series consists of an Amax-2050KW master module, Amax-221X motion slave modules, Amax-27XX I/O slave modules, and KW IEC 61131-3 embedded software package for Windows CE with PLCopen motion control function blocks.

Amax-2050KW master module is a Pentium III platform with an onboard AmoNet controller that can control up to 2,048 I/O points or 64 axes. It has two USB interfaces, two RS-232 and one RS-422/485 communication ports with automatic flow control, one 10/100BaseT (RJ-45) port, four programmable diagnostic LEDs, an onboard AMD Geode GX2 processor with up to 256 MB RAM, 128 KB battery backup RAM, and it supports Windows CE.Net. "Amax-2050KW makes it easy for engineers to create and deploy reliable and deterministic applications through one complete programmable automation controller in multiple domain applications," says Mars Huang, product manager at Advantech.

Amax-27XX consists of digital slave modules for Amonet that expands digital I/O capacity. "With these modules, actuators/sensors can be connected directly with minimum effort," says Juan. "The design of the high-speed distributed I/O can extend the control distance up to 100 m, and keeps the I/O speed as fast as an internal bus. Two thousand points of digital I/O can be updated in 1 ms. Users save wiring effort and extend the design scalability easily."

Amax-2210 modules increase the number of axes for an Amonet distributed motion control network. "They’re designed with friendly, front-access, all-in-one wiring solution to save space and also solve the easy wiring requirements," says Huang.

The company adds the Amonet RS-485 communication link has driver-specific motion slave modules to support a range of common motor vendors such as Mitsubishi J2-Super series, Panasonic Minas A type, and Yaskawa Sigma-II. Users just select the respective cable SCSI-20P or SCSI-50P, and plug this cable into the motor driver and motion slave module. Amonet RS-485 also supports a general-purpose motion slave module for general motor drivers, including stepper and servo motor drivers with the same communications link.

"KW Multiprog is based on open motion control architecture and highly reusable code," adds Peishan. "Standard PLCOpen function blocks are used as the motion control interface. Its IEC-61131-compliant standard is adapted by many key motion solution providers." Depending on the task to be handled and/or company standards, the user can choose among the five standardized programming languages.

The use of Multiprog offers you many advantages," adds Huang. "As all essential data can be displayed, frequent switching between different tools during PLC programming and commissioning is no longer necessary. Observers guarantee data consistency with other tools, so the engineering effort for the programming of PLCs is reduced."


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