Control solutions on the forefront. Open and connected.
In a world moving towards open systems and widespread connectivity, Beijer Electronics is on the forefront when it comes to industrial control solutions. Here is why.
Magnus Buhre, global product manager control systems at Beijer Electronics
Magnus Buhre: Historically control solutions have been proprietary and closed. They’ve often been local, using closed communication protocols to other systems, and therefore tied to a specific manufacturer. When you bought a product, you were more or less restricted to that manufacturers hardware platform, says Magnus Buhre, global product manager control systems at Beijer Electronics.
However, time is changing. The major shift is an industry moving to more open, hardware-independent software solutions including technology and coding that has the capability to run on any hardware no matter the manufacturer.
MB: This is fully in line with Beijer Electronics' product philosophy and design. Compare it to remote controls for your home devices. You have one for each machine – one for the TV, one for the DVD, one for the CD player – and then there are universal remote controls, that can communicate with all devices, all brands. We are the universal option.
The advantage on the customer side of things, is that customers can choose a future proof solution that is not bound to one specific type or make of hardware.
MB: We don’t know what is going to happen in ten years. There might be control solutions that are better, smarter than the best available today. Therefore, Beijer Electronics want to keep our offer as open and transparent as possible. And we are doing this by providing our customers with a choice of hardware solutions best fitted for their needs and actual applications.
The development tool and runtime engine that Beijer Electronics use as the backbone in their control solutions, is CODESYS, a far more flexible option than traditional PLCs. Its main advantage is that it is completely hardware-independent and generates fast machine code, provided by industrially proven compilers.
MB: This saves our customers enormous amounts of time, up to 40 percent of valuable and costly manhours. The benefit of CODESYS is that our customers can reuse the same code over and over again compared to other solutions where new code needs to be created for each project. This means that you can deploy exactly the same control application on completely different hardware targets, for example an operator panel and a distributed IO node without making any changes. Furthermore, with CODESYS the development of clever functions is not tied to a single manufacturer, but open to a worldwide community which is contributing by constantly developing new functions and scripts.
"Compare it to remote controls for your home devices. You have one for each machine – one for the TV, one for the DVD, one for the CD player – and then there are universal remote controls, that can communicate with all devices, all brands. We are the universal option."
Beijer Electronics is moving into technology areas of IIoT and cloud solutions. Where does CODESYS fit into this?
MB: CODESYS holds all the data needed for the cloud, for example temperatures, speed, trends, etc. And CODESYS provides the machine data to the cloud so that our customers can analyze the data and optimize their operations. Furthermore, we can use CODESYS control in our edge devices which combine cloud connectivity and local control in the same smart device. In this way the cloud and the control solution becomes fully integrated.
How does CODESYS technology support Beijer Electronics' philosophy of “Making the complex simple”?
MB: Mainly in three ways. Firstly, we can move and reuse PLC-code between different hardware platforms. Secondly, by using our WARP Engineering Studio it becomes very simple to set up control solutions as WARP automatically configures all the hardware, software and cloud services which may be included in an application. Everything is set up correctly from the start with a great overview. Last but not least, we can create smart objects with ready-made, embedded functionality. You just drag a smart object into the work space and drop it on a device. All embedded CODESYS code is then automatically injected into the targeted devices. This saves many hours of engineering.
It sounds logical to use open systems for control solutions. Why hasn’t it been done in the past?
MB: To some extent it has been done before, but the industrial world is somewhat conservative because of the need of reliable technology. Industrial customers want solutions which has proven to be secure and reliable in harsh environments, and in complex configurations. Today the technology has developed to be open without jeopardizing the high reliability. The development has to a great deal been driven by customer demands including greater choice of products and system design. A philosophy and demand we fully support, says Magnus Buhre.
CODESYS is the leading hardware-independent IEC 61131-3 development tool on the market – the industry standard in PLC and controller programming. The IEC 61131-3 development tool supports all five programming languages – from classic PLC programming to object-oriented controller programming. CODESYS fits hand-in-glove with Beijer Electronics’ control solutions and software in terms of openness, communication and ability to exchange data.