Decentralised control intelligence

Louise Smyth

The new control hardware IndraControl FM by Rexroth unites machine PLC, I/O and the Open Core Interface for Industry 4.0-capable applications. It was specifically designed for cabinet-free automation concepts. In protection category IP65, IndraControl FM unites a variety of analogue and digital I/O for direct connection of actuator and sensors in machines. Parallel to and independent from PLC programming, IoT (Internet of Things) applications can be implemented with the Linux-based options board, diverse high-level language programming options, and the Open Core Interface.

OEMs can reduce their delivery times through modularising their concepts. They construct, assemble and commission various machine modules simultaneously. Until now, central control cabinets have set practical limits. IndraControl FM sets out to override such limits. Similar to the drive family IndraDrive Mi, design engineers situate this control cabinet-free directly on or in the machine. Manufacturers can thus assemble intelligent modules decentrally, completely independent from each other, and commission them. By omitting wear parts such as batteries and fans, the control unit is maintenance-free. The homogeneous integration into various automation structures is flexible via the integrated Multi-Ethernet communication interface.

Programming takes place via a PLC based on Codesys V3. The control also opens up extensive high-level language programming options for integration into Industry 4.0 concepts via the Open Core Interface. Users can write their individual application function via a range of development environments to access all control functions directly and independently from the PLC machine program from various external devices. Commissioning and programming occurs, as for all Rexroth control systems, via the engineering software IndraWorks.

The newly developed control hardware in protection category IP65 provides high processing performance and fast signal processing with a minimal PLC cycle time of 250 µs. With 36 analogue and digital I/O modules as well as Modbus RTU for the direct activation of frequency converters, the control processes process signals directly in the machine and controls electric as well as hydraulic actuators. The direct connection of sensors and actuators as well as pre-fabricated hybrid cables for power supply and communication simplify installation.

Via an options board with a freely programmable Linux operating system and an integrated web server, users can expand IndraControl FM with IoT applications. For example, they program web-based services in IT languages such as Java or C++ and integrate them into service-oriented architectures via the control’s Java Virtual Machine. Access to the options board is possible via Ethernet as well as SD removable disk, USB interface, or optional WLAN connection.