Microbrewery illustrates PAC software uses, benefits

21 April 2008

Programmable automation controllers (PACs) meet the complex demands of modern industrial automation applications because they combine features of more traditional automation technologies: programmable logic controllers (PLCs), distributed control systems (DCSs), remote terminal units (RTUs), and personal computers (PCs).

If you’re considering a PAC for monitoring, automation, and data acquisition applications, you may be wondering how PACs are programmed. A white paper from Opto22 explores some of the most important features of software for PACs, using a microbrewery example.

According to the ARC Advisory Group, among a PAC’s defining characteristics are three elements directly related to software:

* Tightly integrated controller hardware and software. In other words, the software used with a programmable automation controller is designed specifically for the PAC.
* A single development platform, using common tagging and a single database for development tasks across a range of disciplines.
* Programmability using software tools capable of designing control programs to support a process that ‘flows’ across several machines or units.

Because a key defining characteristic of PACs is that the same hardware can be used in multiple domains, including logic, motion, drives, and process control, it follows that the software must be capable of programming all control and monitoring tasks necessary in those domains. And the software must let the developer mix and incorporate these as needed into control programs, so these programs can ‘flow’ as the requirements of the application dictate. The microbrewery example shows how this can be accomplished. Registration is free to the Control Engineering Resource Center, where the entire white paper resides.

You can also watch a six-minute OptoScreencast that introduces the programming environment for PAC Control Basic. Through it you’ll learn the basic building blocks of a PAC Control program and see how easy it is to build a tag name database and a control strategy using simple dialog boxes and plain English commands with Opto22 tools.

--edited by Renee Robbins, senior editor, Control Engineering Daily News Desk

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