Manufacturers Reduce Design Time with Common Design Environment

Advanced programmable automation controllers (PACs) offer one common control platform, control engine, and development environment, designed to deliver control capabilities for all disciplines from process to safety to motion.


In the past, manufacturers were forced to use multiple, dedicated control systems to solve different application requirements. Each control system required different software, language types, spare parts, and training—and integrating these disparate control systems proved time consuming and costly. Today, advanced PACs (programmable automation controllers) offer a unique approach—one control platform using a common control engine with a common development environment, designed to deliver control capabilities for all disciplines from process to safety to motion.

Manufacturers can use one control platform for discrete, process, batch, motion, safety, and drive control.

Using one control platform across any discipline helps eliminate the need for separate controllers and systems. This eliminates handshaking code between controllers and allows for optimized, efficient execution of control. Programs are easy to understand and focus on controlling the application instead of talking from one controller to another. Plus, the commonality between disciplines provides faster startups due to ease of integration between them.

Janda Company Inc. is seeing the benefits of leveraging a common design environment. It reuses engineering designs as well as a common, tag-based system database to reduce development and commissioning time. Janda Company engineers recently installed an Allen-Bradley CompactLogix programmable automation controller (PAC) and Ultra 3000 servo drives from Rockwell Automation to upgrade their resistance welding machinery control system to help their customers produce higher quality products in less time with fewer people, while reducing the amount of scrap.

  • Reduced electrical design time by 25%
  • Reduced build time from 40 hours to 15 hours
  • Reduced assembly time by 30%

“Because we only need to learn one programming environment, we’ve been able to reduce our electrical design time by 25% and build complete, customized machines in 15 hours instead of 40. We’re able to assemble machines 30% faster,” said Bob White, Jr., president, Janda Company.

Janda’s engineers leverage a Rockwell Automation control system on Janda’s welding machines.

Programming is typically the most time-consuming and costly stage of the machine development process, sometimes consuming up to 80% of a control system’s budget. As such, it represents one of the most likely areas to make improvements.

In any machine design project, code has to be developed for each individual machine operation in order for the machine to perform its specified function. With any given code, consistency and efficiency can vary greatly, thereby increasing the possibility of unintentional errors, extended debugging time, and design inefficiencies.

Meanwhile, additional factors can amplify the time and money spent during the design phase including end-user specifications, regulatory pressures, and industry standards. For this reason, many OEMs develop their own programming standards to help their customers meet these requirements. However, in cases where machines come from several different OEMs, end users are still faced with the difficult task of integrating each machine into their line.

The Rockwell Automation RSLogix 5000 v20 programming software, in combination with scalable, right-sized control system components, allows users to scale from 200 to 10,000 I/O points using a single control platform and common user experience.

To help clearly identify specifications, use more efficient programming approaches, and meet various industry standards, Rockwell Automation offers a number of easy-to-use tools that streamline engineering. For example, its RSLogix programming software enables users to configure the controller and device simultaneously to help eliminate configuration mismatch errors. The software automatically creates data types and descriptive device tag names with proper data types that are consistent between multiple programs. Users can also leverage preconfigured, preprogrammed, pretested faceplates and Add-On Instruction (AOI) sets to quickly and easily program and operate devices. Faceplates and AOI sets automatically create tags to provide code for a controller and graphics for an HMI when adding a device into a project.

RSLogix is the common design and configuration tool used to program all controllers within the Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture. It can be used for discrete, process, batch, motion, safety, and drive-based applications, and offers one development environment and tag database for Ladder logic, Structured Text, Function Block Diagram, and Sequential Function Chart editors.

- Mike Burrows, director - integrated architecture, Rockwell Automation 

Also read: How to choose the correct programming language 

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