Bricks, blocks, control systems, and programming software

The CCBB application development software is for machine builders who develop low-cost standalone machines. It is built around a core of Allen-Bradley MicroLogix controllers, A-B PanelView Component human-machine interfaces (HMIs) and key application-specific components, such as A-B PowerFlex 4 drives.


CCBB application development software from Rockwell AutomationHere at AIM we need to create control system inexpensively and fast, which might be something you need to do too. Several of the volunteers here have suggested we take a closer look at A-B programmable logic controllers (PLCs). The volunteers think that they can build the entire vehicle control system for a self-driving truck from building blocks like the Allen-Bradley line from Rockwell Automation. We have not tested that theory yet but the more I find out about these blocks the more it looks like they are something we should try. Here is some of what I have found out so far.

Designing control systems consumes a large portion of a machine’s development time and budget so it is also a good place to look for savings.

Any reduction in cost can provide machine builders with a critical competitive advantage, so it makes sense to use software and components that allow fast and easy implementation of common control-design tasks. We all started out with Erector Set, Tinker Toys, or Lego’s so it is natural that we would bring those skills of working with modular components to the workplace.

The CCBB application development software is for machine builders who develop low-cost standalone machines, perhaps in AIM’s case that would be “drive alone” machines. CCBB is built around a core of Allen-Bradley MicroLogix controllers, Allen-Bradley PanelView Component human-machine interfaces (HMIs) and key application-specific components, such as Allen-Bradley PowerFlex 4 drives. The CCBB application development software helps designers ease connectivity and programming of these devices, along with other Rockwell Automation industrial components, including starters, motors, push buttons, sensors, safety components, and power supplies.

CCBB application development software includes pre-developed HMI screens, panel layouts, wiring diagrams and application code. They also provide designers with best-practice examples of product connections and layouts.

The building blocks help simplify design tasks in a range of applications, from simple position, speed and temperature control, to error-proofing, color sensing, alarm coordination, machine safety, energy management and motion control applications. This can make dealing with those pesky automation and control problems that you deal with every day fun again.

For machine safety, the E-stop and Gate Switch String building block is ideal for machines where access to the process is through safety doors or a light curtain. When combined with an Allen-Bradley Guardmaster MSR42 multi-function safety relay, a Guardmaster MSR127 single function safety relay, a MicroLogix 1400 controller, and a PanelView Component operator interface for system monitoring, you have created a machine safety system.

Intuitive and self-explanatory HMI screens provide an overview the machine state. Built in advanced diagnostics provide additional savings during startup and troubleshooting.

Energy management building blocks assist engineers in configuring energy monitoring applications on low-end machines by providing previously applied examples. With the Plant Power Metering System building block, for example, designers can configure a system to provide one view of all power meters on the plant floor from one PanelView Component 600 HMI. The HMI application is fully configurable. All energy parameters can be logged, trended and have reports generated in the RSEnergyMetrix software package.

This can be especially valuable to you now that the Department of Defense has made energy management a high priority factor in all purchases.

The Simple Motion Control via EtherNet/IP building block allows designers to easily configure simple motion control applications via EtherNet/IP, without the need for a dedicated motion network. Designers can use the Kinetix 300 EtherNet/IP indexing servo drive with the MicroLogix 1400 programmable controller to achieve a simple, cost-effective component motion solution.

Easy setup via a Web browser helps users quickly implement non-coordinated, independent, indexing moves – along with the ability to control the indexing moves over an EtherNet/IP network. With Connected Components and its application development software, machine builders concentrate on machine design and ease of use, rather than gathering documents and drawing diagrams.

CCBB application development software, including literature, is available free on a DVD. I sent for the DVD to get a closer look at the system and its software using the button on the A-B site. Look for Rockwell Automation to continue expansion of this product line as the world rebounds from the recession, and machine building around the world surges.

Have you used these software tools? Let me know what you think of them.

Leave a comment below. Click on this link, if you don't see a comment area for this bricks, blocks and control systems blog entry.


Paul F. Grayson - Chief Engineer, American Industrial Magic, LLC, "Small engine and machinery repair"

TC Robotics 4-H Club, "Science, Engineering, Technology, and Math fun"

390 4-Mile Rd. S., Traverse City, MI 49696


TC Robotics 4-H Club:

Control Engineering Magazine:

Free 4-H club news letter:

No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
A cool solution: Collaboration, chemistry leads to foundry coat product development; See the 2015 Product of the Year Finalists
Raising the standard: What's new with NFPA 70E; A global view of manufacturing; Maintenance data; Fit bearings properly
Sister act: Building on their father's legacy, a new generation moves Bales Metal Surface Solutions forward; Meet the 2015 Engineering Leaders Under 40
Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again
Pipeline vulnerabilities? Securing hydrocarbon transit; Predictive analytics hit the mainstream; Dirty pipelines decrease flow, production—pig your line; Ensuring pipeline physical and cyber security
Upgrading secondary control systems; Keeping enclosures conditioned; Diagnostics increase equipment uptime; Mechatronics simplifies machine design
Designing positive-energy buildings; Ensuring power quality; Complying with NFPA 110; Minimizing arc flash hazards
Building high availability into industrial computers; Of key metrics and myth busting; The truth about five common VFD myths

Annual Salary Survey

After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.

The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.

Read more: 2014 Salary Survey: Confidence rises amid the challenges

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.