The MathWorks targets PLCs/PACs with new Simulink PLC Coder

New product generates IEC 61131 structured text, helping machine builders use model-based design to create mechatronic systems, including those based on Rockwell Automation PLCs/PACs. Simulink PLC Coder generates source code in structured text format from Simulink models, Stateflow charts, and Embedded MATLAB code, and then uses an integrated development environment (IDE) from an industrial automation vendor to compile the code and run it on a PLC or PAC.


Also see - Software: The MathWorks releases version 2010a of Matlab, Simulink product families

- Partnership helps PLC-based machine builders benefit from simulation software, reducing design time 50%.


The MathWorks has announced Simulink PLC Coder, a new product that generates IEC 61131 structured text for programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and programmable automation controllers (PACs). This advancement enables model-based design for manufacturing and power generation equipment controlled by PLCs and PACs, including those from Rockwell Automation.

The MathWorks model-based design process for PLC systems

MathWorks products (shown in blue boxes) now generate both structured text and C code, facilitating model-based design, test and implementation of PLC-based systems.

Simulink PLC Coder generates source code in structured text format from Simulink models, Stateflow charts, and Embedded MATLAB code, and then uses an integrated development environment (IDE) from an industrial automation vendor to compile the code and run it on a PLC or PAC. The first automation vendor The Mathworks partnered with on this is Rockwell Automation.

"Industrial automation is a competitive field as companies continuously seek ways to innovate and develop more complex mechatronic industrial systems," said Tony Lennon, industrial automation and machinery industry manager at The MathWorks. "Our customers recognize that model-based design with automatic code generation is the best way to design and validate these complex systems that span electrical, mechanical and control system domains. This approach enables them to succeed."

With Simulink PLC Coder, engineers can automatically generate code for industrial control systems, including closed-loop and supervisory control applications. Automatic code generation, an integral part of model-based design, helps eliminate errors associated with traditional hand coding, and reduces overall development and validation time.

Jason Weber, strategic alliance manager at Rockwell Automation, says that by collaborating with The MathWorks, "our customers gain the ability to use model-based design for developing PAC applications, enhancing machine performance. Model-based design aligns closely with our Virtual Design and Production strategy, which allows customers to speed time to market, reduce engineering costs, and further validate machines before production."

Rockwell Automation illustration of Virtual Design and Production Process

Model-based design is one virtual design and production method that integrates the various aspects of system design. Source: Rockwell Automation

The MathWorks' Matlab is a programming environment for algorithm development, data analysis, visualization, and numeric computation. Simulink is a graphical environment for simulation and model-based design of multidomain dynamic and embedded systems. These products historically have generated C code, and have been used extensively in PC-based controls. The addition of structured text output extends the benefits of model-based design to controls engineers more familiar with PLC/PAC products, such as those based on Rockwell Automation's RSLogix.

Read more from Control Engineering about:

- PLC programming and batch configuration ;
- Speaking in Tongues: Understanding the IEC 61131-3 Programming Languages ;

- PLC/PAC Product Channel .

- Edited by Renee Robbins, senior editor, Control Engineering ,

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