Aug. 4, 2009
Siemens has unveiled the latest version of its embedded automation family, WinAC MP 2008 which enables users to implement control and visualization tasks on a single, compact, maintenance-free platform.   
“People have been predicting the death of traditional PLCs for a few years now, and I think they are getting a little ahead of reality. That said, WinAC MP certainly has its uses in automation and is capable of handling applications outside of the paradigm of a traditional PLC,” says Siemens Automation Marketing Manager, Eric Kaczor. “Embedded automation offers users the openness of PC based control while keeping the robustness of a PLC. Our newest offering delivers the collocation of operator control, monitoring and machine control in one pre-configured unit available in screen sizes from 6 inches all the way to 19 inches.”

Traditional automation and control systems typically comprise of numerous hardware and software components, including hardware PLCs, field bus coprocessor cards, I/O via field bus or Ethernet, motion control via parallel cabling or field bus, an HMI for visualization, and Ethernet connectivity to other processes or to the manufacturing execution system (MES).

“Some people are more comfortable with that kind of approach. It’s what they know and there’s no need to fix what isn’t broken,” says Kaczor. “On the other hand, embedded automation delivers a centralized structure, reduced hardware costs, fewer interfaces, full integration and high reliability, among other things. It’s typically a high-performance architecture when compared to the traditional approach, limited only by processor technology. These factors make it very attractive considering the current state of the economy.”

The newest version of WinAC MP, while available as software, is typically paired with one of Siemens’ many rugged multi-panels – the compact MP 177, the mid range MP 277 and/or the MP 377 at the high end (all of which are based on the Windows CE operating system). These panels are available in an array of sizes including touch screen or keypad functionality. With their built in Ethernet, Profibus, and USB interfaces and absence of rotating components such as disk drives or cooling fans, they are an ideal platform for demanding control and visualization tasks on, or near, the production line. 

“Finally,” concludes Kaczor, “WinAC MP is not only a PC-based controller but also the integration platform for all parts of the automation solution running on the PC and it may also provide the connection back to the front office through an Ethernet connection. This device is a major step forward in terms of increasing the power and reliability of soft controllers, while simplifying critical tasks like installation, configuration and ongoing control through the HMI interface.”

For more information on WinAC MP, please click here.

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