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Schneider Rolls Out Products at Belgium Event

Schneider Electric (www.schneiderelectric.com) showed off many new products as it welcomed about 2,000 customers to its Initiative 2003 conference and trade show held in Brussels, Belgium, Dec.

1–5. The company has been busy integrating the products garnered from acquisitions of Telemecanique, Square D and Modicon several years ago. The fruits of the labor were unveiled to customers, editors and analysts from around the world at the event.

Alain Marbach, senior vice president, Industrial Automation, explained that the company believes it is in a hotly contested race for number two in worldwide automation market share with Rockwell Automation (www.rockwellautomation.com) and Mitsubishi (www.mea.com). Siemens (www.siemens.com) is acknowledged to be the global market share leader. Acquisition of Japan’s Digital, a manufacturer of industrial computers and displays, and partnership with Toshiba for variable frequency drives has advanced Schneider’s position in Asia.

The anticipated new program development studio and collaboration tool, Unity, was demonstrated for the first time. In addition to supporting programming in the IEC 61131-3 languages, Unity’s developer module also supports Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications, Visual Basic and Visual C++ languages for those more familiar with computers than programmable logic controllers (PLCs). Studio allows engineers to manage and collaborate on multi-application projects. The Application Generator module generates code from a model developed by the designer based upon the ISA 88 batch code state model.

New PLC models with more memory and faster processors than their predecessors supplement the new programming software. These include the Advantys line of “slice I/0” products, which provide input/output modules in a small form factor.

Gary Mintchell

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