Bringing together different pieces of equipment to make a coherent automated system can be a challenge. An increasingly frequent problem that many engineers face.
Let’s say you have legacy equipment from differing drives & controls manufacturers, including ABB, Siemens, Control Techniques, Danfoss, Omron, Rockwell, Trend to name but a few.
Here I take a look at ways you can start to bring those differing assets together.
A production line can evolve over time with upgrades along the way, or new equipment comes in that needs to interface with existing assets.
Equally, we often see equipment being re-allocated from another facility within a group which appears to have no common components with existing plant.
Sometimes, the old-fashioned way of using isolated digital IO (usually via volt-free relay contacts) works well enough, especially if there’s only a few points to consider (clear to send, line stop, etc). Simple, easy to diagnose and effectively the lowest common denominator.
The downsides come when it gets more complicated with the plethora of signals needed, if any analogue signals (line speed being the favourite) or tracking data are also needed.
Suddenly you are looking at signal isolators and, in some cases, whole cards of IO required to pass the required signals.
What if it’s an obsolete system where IO card supply is limited or expensive?
What if you’ve reached the IO or rack limit?
Modbus RS485 to Profinet? No problem.
Profibus to CC-Link? By all means.
Set up a mapping table inside these clever little devices and they appear as a device both sides like to talk to.
They’re also surprisingly cost effective – in some cases much less than a rack-based communication card.
The only downside may be needing to modify the configuration on both sides – something that you may not have the luxury of – but this applies to most communications based solutions.
If you’d like more clarity on how to bring together seemingly incompatible drives & controls equipment, we’re here to help.
Blog post authored by: Phil Howard, Lead Systems Service Engineer, iconsys
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