Products to lower PLC software costs

How to avoid some software licensing fees from PLC vendors.


Figure 3: PLC software from vendors like Ingear costs much less than similar software from PLC vendors and doesn’t require run-time licenses. Courtesy: CimQuest IngearTo reduce PLC software licensing fees, alternative software solutions exist on the open market from several vendors, including Ingear (Figure 3; article linked below has more information and Figures 1 and 2).

For example, Rockwell Automation offers its customers RSLinx, a software solution built on OPC to enable connectivity between HMI software packages and Allen-Bradley PLCs. Once a user builds an interface application with an HMI development tool, the RSLinx software provides drivers and other connectivity components that enable communications with the PLC. Users purchase individual RSLinx copies for each machine on which they want to run the application, along with annual software maintenance fees for each copy.

Trien Dao, senior software engineer at a major medical device manufacturing facility in the Minnesota Twin Cities region, evaluated the cost of using RSLinx server to communicate with numerous Allen-Bradley PLCs deployed throughout the plant, but the license and annual maintenance fees required for each copy set him searching for an alternative.

“With [CimQuest] Ingear solution, once we developed the interface, all we had to do is export the DLL to any machine on which we wanted to run it. We didn’t have to pay additional fees. We have PLCs running on many machines, so not having to buy additional licenses for each one is a tremendous cost savings, definitely in the six figures,” said Dao.

Mike Sluz, electrical superintendant for Wynndel Box & Lumber, a specialty wood product manufacturer in British Columbia, Canada, also purchased Ingear. According to Sluz, “Wynndel faced the challenge of displaying real-time error messages and production data at various workstations around our plant. Realizing that we could use the Ingear products to help gather data from numerous Allen-Bradley PLCs in our plant, we used Ingear to replace the need to purchase and install multiple RSLinx licenses at more than $1,100 per workstation.” Although vendor-supplied software is proprietary, requires licenses, and can’t be modified by a customer, almost all of it is written in Microsoft Visual Studio. In other words, anything the vendor can do, a machine builder or an end user can do, too.

Ingear is a library of programs for PLCs that programmers use to create their own customer applications using Visual Studio. Ingear provides access to PLC memory, databases, I/O, and communications, allowing programmers to obtain the information they need from a PLC, process it in a PC, and send commands back to the PLC for control. And, because Ingear has no run-time licensing fees, the applications created with Ingear can be distributed by a systems integrator or machine builder without additional costs, lowering the costs for PLC software licensing.

- Chuck Karwoski is president of CimQuest Ingear LLC, a supplier of PLC software. Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, CFE Media, Control Engineering,

ONLINE extra

See “How to lower PLC software costs" below. 

No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 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...
Safety for 18 years, warehouse maintenance tips, Ethernet and the IIoT, GAMS 2016 recap
2016 Engineering Leaders Under 40; Future vision: Where is manufacturing headed?; Electrical distribution, redefined
Strategic outsourcing delivers efficiency; Sleeve bearing clearance; Causes of water hammer; Improve air quality; Maintenance safety; GAMS preview
SCADA at the junction, Managing risk through maintenance, Moving at the speed of data
Safety at every angle, Big Data's impact on operations, bridging the skills gap
The digital oilfield: Utilizing Big Data can yield big savings; Virtualization a real solution; Tracking SIS performance
Applying network redundancy; Overcoming loop tuning challenges; PID control and networks
Driving motor efficiency; Preventing arc flash in mission critical facilities; Integrating alternative power and existing electrical systems
Package boilers; Natural gas infrared heating; Thermal treasure; Standby generation; Natural gas supports green efforts

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

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.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role of plant safety and offers advice on best practices.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
This article collection contains several articles on strategic maintenance and understanding all the parts of your plant.
click me