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Application Programming with Yaskawa’s A1000 Inverter Drives
Jason Mayes

Application Programming with Yaskawa’s A1000 Inverter Drives

I recently had the opportunity to spend a few days at Yaskawa America’s North American headquarters to sit in on an A1000 Application Programming class. As a Yaskawa Solution and Service Provider PLUS, many DMC engineers have extensive application programming experience using Yaskawa’s inverter drives in the industrial workspace. In addition to being a Yaskawa Solution and Service Provider, we have frequently worked closely with Yaskawa’s software development team to aid i...

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Using Siemens S7-300 PLCs to Report System Errors
Jon Carson

Using Siemens S7-300 PLCs to Report System Errors

The Siemens S7-300 line of PLCs has about a million great features integrated into the programming environment. After I recently inherited a PLC project where some (many) of these were not implemented, I thought it might be a good idea to do a recap on some of the more useful functions Step7 has to offer us. By far one of the most useful, and sadly underutilized, capabilities available to us from the Step7 environment is the “Report System Errors” utility. This utility, when activ...

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DMC Attains Most Siemens Certified Engineers in the USA
Frank Riordan

DMC Attains Most Siemens Certified Engineers in the USA

DMC just attained a rather significant milestone - we now have eight people who have met all of the requirements for the Global Technical Certification in the SIMATIC Technology areas of S7 PLCs, SIMATIC HMIs, and SIMATIC Networking. This is signifcant from several points of view.  The first is that the certification test is, quite bluntly, pretty darn hard - I think the pass rate is less than 40%.  Secondly, in order to be part of the Siemens Solution Partner Program, an integra...

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DMC Hosts Webinar Comparing Competing Controller Platforms
Jessica Mlinaric

DMC Hosts Webinar Comparing Competing Controller Platforms

Last month DMC’s Nick Shea presented a webinar in conjunction with Siemens Industry, Inc.  The topic, An Unbiased Comparison of the Siemens SIMATIC S7-1200 and AB (Allen-Bradley) MicroLogix, drew an audience of over 400 registrants. Nick’s presentation focused on providing an independent analysis of both platforms from both a technological and benefits-oriented perspective.  Its aim is to help customers weigh the tradeoffs of the platforms based on their specific needs, ...

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DMC Presents at the 2010 Siemens Automation Summit
Tim Jager

DMC Presents at the 2010 Siemens Automation Summit

What was the best part of my trip to Charlotte, NC last week? - Watching the Blackhawks Stanley Cup game 6 on a massive screen in the NASCAR hall of fame after the Siemens award ceremony. Very surreal... and totally awesome! Yes, Siemens really knows how to put on a great event. Last week was the 2010 Siemens Automation Summit, held in beautiful Charlotte, NC. The Siemens Automation Summit is a conference that specifically focused on the end users of Siemens automaton products. It is a gre...

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RT-201: PLCs vs. Real-Time Systems
Eric Nielsen

RT-201: PLCs vs. Real-Time Systems

In RT-101: Real-Time Operating Systems (RTOS), I provided readers with a brief description of the many benefits that systems running an RTOS can provide in harsh and demanding environments. The bigger question is: in an industry saturated by PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers), PACs (Programmable Automation Controllers), Field Point controllers, Microcontrollers and many others, why should an engineer choose an RTOS PAC (Programmable Automation Controller) platform above all the rest? To addre...

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RT-301: Capabilities of Distributed LabVIEW Real-Time
Darren Jones

RT-301: Capabilities of Distributed LabVIEW Real-Time

Eric Nielsen’s Real Time blog did a good job of hitting the major strengths and benefits of any system based on a controller running a Real-time operating system. Here I’ll get into a little more depth, specifically for the capabilities these systems give in regards to distributed execution. As we’ve learned, the major benefits of running a Real-Time system are determinism and robust operation. These benefits can be realized in a very powerful way: distributed execution. Dis...

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Selecting the Right Machine Vision Software and Platform
Cesar Pena

Selecting the Right Machine Vision Software and Platform

One of our many areas of expertise at DMC is developing and integrating machine vision systems. Our focus is on offering the most effective solution for the application; we are hardware/vendor independent and are not tied to any platform. When selecting a vision hardware and software platform, the most important questions to answer are: What are the technical challenges of the application? How many vision systems will be produced? How many cameras are needed for each vision system? I...

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Siemens vs Allen-Bradley: Function Blocks
Nick Shea

Siemens vs Allen-Bradley: Function Blocks

Siemens and Rockwell Automation are two giants competing in industrial automation technology today. Rockwell (aka Allen-Bradley) seems to be more popular in the US market, but Siemens has a larger international customer base. A cursory Google search will reveal that there is no lack of debate among automation professionals over which one is preferred. On the higher end of their PLC lines, the programming environments to use are: Siemens - Step 7 Simatic Manager for S7-300 and 400 level ...

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Successful Implementation of Siemens' SiMotion Shaftless Drive Standard
Kristie Simon Shea

Successful Implementation of Siemens' SiMotion Shaftless Drive Standard

In many industries, shaftless drive technology has replaced the old mechanical drive systems. Instead of using mechanical gearing to force one axis on a machine to follow another one, servos are used. The servo technology reduces many of the flaws of a large mechanical gearing system as well as provides a lot of flexibility. This technology is in heavy use in industries such as the automotive, packaging, and printing. Using the shaftless drive technology requires the use of a motion controlle...

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Object Oriented Programming in Siemens and Allen Bradley PLCs
Jon Carson

Object Oriented Programming in Siemens and Allen Bradley PLCs

Since their conception PLC programs have been founded on simple programs. RLL (Relay Ladder Logic) and IL (Instruction List) commands have dominated PLC programs since PLCs first came to market in the 1970s. However in the past few years automation requirements have grown more complex and demanding. This has in turn led to PLC manufacturers beginning to include some higher level programming concepts in their software packages. What exactly have they added? And what does it mean for your manufact...

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PLC Analog IO Troubleshooting Tips
Nick Shea

PLC Analog IO Troubleshooting Tips

When commissioning or troubleshooting PLC inputs and outputs (IO), the analog signals are often the most difficult. First, analog IO almost always has to be scaled to convert the raw signal to useful process values. Also, there are many wiring and external device (sensor/actuator) configurations. Here are some simple guidelines for troubleshooting and working with Analog IO. Although these guidelines are intended to help you think about the process of troubleshooting, this process will surely...

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PLC Troubleshooting
Matt Puskala

PLC Troubleshooting

We are frequently asked to work on PLC systems for clients that we did not develop. The job could be troubleshooting an issue or adding a new feature to the system. Working with unfamiliar code has its own unique challenges, although we take pride in our ability to do so. Here are some things you should keep in mind when asking an integrator or even your own internal maintenance staff to take a look at your PLC system. Source Code Almost every PLC system I've worked with does not store...

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"Indirect Addressing" in Step 7 Basic v10.5 SP2
Nick Shea

"Indirect Addressing" in Step 7 Basic v10.5 SP2

For those of us who appreciate and harness the power of indirect addressing in Siemens S7 300 and 400 level PLCs, we were sad to hear that this functionality was not supported in the same way for the new Step 7 Basic software for S7-1200 PLCs. As of Service Pack 2 for Step 7 Basic 10.5, however, Siemens has added array indexing functions that get you closer to indirect addressing. They are called "FieldRead" and "FieldWrite". Essentially, they are functions that allow you ...

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Siemens S7-1200 PLC communicates through Sinaut MD720-3 cellular modem
Nick Shea

Siemens S7-1200 PLC communicates through Sinaut MD720-3 cellular modem

Many consumers, including myself, have tapped into the ever-growing functionality of mobile internet. Many people leverage this infrastructure for their mobile phone. Others are beginning to use WiMAX connections for their PCs. Not to be out-done, PLCs are also capable of communicating through wireless data plans. DMC just finished the proof-of-concept phase in a project using the new Siemens Simatic S7-1200 PLC and Siemens Sinaut MD720 GPRS GSM cellular modem. We were able to successfully se...

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Redundant Control Systems: Siemens S7 400H Series PLC and WinCC
Cesar Pena

Redundant Control Systems: Siemens S7 400H Series PLC and WinCC

There are certain control systems, such as in nuclear power plants and airplanes, that cannot be disabled or shut down, even momentarily, because of the threat to people’s lives. In these applications, a redundant control system must be in place to take over instantaneously if the primary system fails. I recently deployed one such redundant control system for train tunnel ventilation at a major international airport. The system's main objective is to control, reduce, and help exting...

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IEC61131-3 Data Structures (Encapsulation = Domination!)
Tim Jager

IEC61131-3 Data Structures (Encapsulation = Domination!)

Encapsulating your data into custom Data Structures will allow you to Dominate (maybe not the world, but at least your PLC) I'm going to conclude my series on the IEC 61131-3 standard by examining the benefits of Data Structures. (If you missed my other posts, you can check out the previous part 1, part 2, part 3) Before we dive into Data Structures, let's review basic data types. Every PLC supports a certain group of standard data types. The list typically includes the followin...

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Communication between Siemens HMIs and non-Siemens controllers
Jon Carson

Communication between Siemens HMIs and non-Siemens controllers

Ever wanted to use those very nice looking Siemens touchpad HMIs with a third party controller Siemens doesn't officially support? On a recent project I was presented with the following scenario: a customer already had several Siemens touch-screen HMIs in stock, and wanted to use one to help operators control an Elau motion controller. Of course to do this I had to get the HMI and controller to talk to one another. The HMI understood about 20 different protocols — everything from Allen...

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IEC 61131-3 Function Blocks - Unleash the Power!
Tim Jager

IEC 61131-3 Function Blocks - Unleash the Power!

If you are a programmer, an OEM, or end user that utilizes IEC 61131-3 compliant PLCs, you should MUST read this article. In the 3rd part of my series on the IEC61131-3 programming standard (you can check out the previous part 1 and part 2), I will explain the huge benefits of structured programming and why Function Blocks are the greatest thing ever....seriously they are awesome and worth using in every PLC program. So what is a Function Block anyway? A Function Block is an encapsulate...

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IEC 61131-3  Choosing a Programming Language
Tim Jager

IEC 61131-3 Choosing a Programming Language

This is part two of my series on the IEC-61131-3 programming standard. Here's a link to Part 1 for those of you that missed it. The IEC61131-3 standard contains 5 different programming languages. This article will give a brief introduction to each one and some tips on choosing which language is best. The five languages: Ladder Diagram is most popular in the USA. It is based on the graphical presentation of Relay Ladder Logic. Most non-IEC61131-3 compliant PLCs only support ladder lo...

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