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The Model Builders at Hannover Fair

05 June 2009

Most engineers, when they are young (and some even when they’re a little older), build model cars or airplanes. So when they think of models, they think of the small-scale replicas of BMWs and Airbuses they’ve seen over the years.
For Hannover Fair, they make models, too, but they do just the opposite. They make huge models of industrial control devices—fifty times bigger than what they really are. And they make them with surprising precision.

Simon Brugger
Simon Brugger

If you’ve ever been a fair visitor, you can see why manufacturers would want to have something eye-catching for their stands. With so many exhibitors and such large halls, it is easy to walk by a stand and miss an exciting new development, which is usually something small enough to hold in your hand, like a microPLC or an I/O module.

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Photo: Simon Brugger shows a giant version of Bachmann’s SLC 284 safety controller for the M1 Automation System.

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There are the standard attention-getting options: pretty girls, bicycle acrobats, magicians, and they work, and they draw crowds. But many engineers prefer to look at something more representative of control devices.

GIANT MODELS

The prize for the biggest model must go to Bachmann electronic GmbH, with its huge mock-up of its new SLC284 safety controller, one of several safety modules it introduced a the fair for its M1 Automation System. The M1 is an industrial computer in the form of a PLC. The brightly coloured yellow safety modules stand out from the black M1, but just to make sure fair visitors got the picture, the company had a big model in the corner of its stand. Simon Brugger was on hand to show it off.

‘Safety inside’ was the company’s theme at Hannover and so it was showing its new SLC284 module that fits right into the M1 system and performs the safety PLC function, fully integrated with the other PLC functions. The configuration and programming of the safety functions are integrated into the all-in-one engineering tool called ‘SolutionCenter’ which helps to link standard PLC tasks to the requirements of functional safety.

Christoph Leifer
Christoph Leifer

The SLC284 has its own digital I/O with connectors on the front panel. However if more I/O is needed there are two remote digital I/O modules, the SDO204 that has eight output channels that can be used redundantly in pairs, and the SDI208 which has 16 input channels that can also be paired up for redundancy.

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Photo: Dipl.-Ing. Christoph Leifer, VP Head of Business Unit INTERFACE, was in the Phoenix Contact stand to draw attention to the drag-and-drop software for the new Trisafe relays.

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In the Phoenix Contact stand, safety was also an issue with the new PSR Trisafe relays, which are in fact configurable safety modules that can, as standalone devices, handle up to 20 incoming safety signals, so it can handle the entire safety process on smaller machines.

Drawing attention to the new product was a bigger-than-life module shown by Dipl.-Ing. Christoph Leifer, who is VP Head of Phoenix Contact’s Business Unit INTERFACE. The company was clever enough to put an HMI screen in the back of the module, because it was showing off its new drag-and-drop software for configuring the module. With just a few mouse clicks, says Mr. Leifer, the module can be configured so you don’t have to do any complex wiring or programming to get it to work. For more about the Trisafe, enter LINK CODE 24672 at the top of this page.

A NEW PLC

Andrew White
Andrew White

In the vast Siemens stand in Hall 9 were an unprecedented number of new products, but perhaps one of the most important introductions for Hannover Fair 2009 was the S7-1200, Siemens’ new generation of microPLCs that will eventually replace the S7-200 introduced more than 10 years ago.

Marketing manger Andrew White was on hand to talk about the new system, and show off the model Siemens had built. It wasn’t as gigantic as the other models we saw, and it was mounted on one of the presentation panels, so a few fair visitors, Mr. White told us, thought it was the real thing!

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Photo: Siemens launched its S7-1200 microPLC at Hannover Fair 2009. Andrew White had a laugh when some fair visitors thought this model was the real thing.

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Siemens is marketing the S7-1200 for compact applications in the lower performance range, integrating it with the HMI and S7 engineering software. It has a Profinet interface built-in so it can easily network with other devices. For more information about the new PLC, and to see a photo of CEO Ralf-Michael Franke holding the real thing, enter LINK CODE 24669 at the top of this page.


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