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Advanced PLC addresses emerging challenges in machinery control

03 February 2015

ABB is extending the capability of one of the most popular PLCs in the world - the AC500 - with a very high performance version. The brand new AC500 PM595 features a multi-processor system with the performance to handle the most demanding machinery and motion automation control and communication tasks.

The new AC500 PM595 Machinery Controller is optimised for robust, high performance industrial control, and is built around a 1.3 GHz processor with four 32-bit RISC processors plus an embedded double-precision floating point processor, 16 MB of user program memory and a large array of communications interfaces. The very high level of computational capability allows the new controller to handle extremely complex control tasks, involving complexities such as precision coordinated motion with very large quantities of axes, and mathematics-intensive computation such as real-time trigonometric calculations for robotics or other advanced kinematic applications. The controller also has a built-in interface to allow ABB's advanced safety PLC to be connected for high risk applications.

"Machinery and motion control applications are becoming much more complex as machinery becomes more capable, smarter and safer, and as demands for more sophisticated human interfaces and communications grows," says ABB's product marketing manager, Wangelis Porikis. "The sheer computational capability of the AC500 PM595, with its rich feature set and versatile communications capability, provides enormous flexibility for automation builders. It provides a controller that can handle virtually any application, but also one that is highly software-configurable - giving OEMs a single control platform for a very broad range of applications."

Versatile connectivity is central to the new machinery controller's design. This allows it to be used with both legacy systems and todays favoured networks - as well as providing a soft architecture that can handle future demands. Four independent Ethernet interfaces and an integrated network switch are built in. Two of these interfaces are programmable, supporting different Ethernet based protocols such as EtherCAT and PROFINET - allowing the PLC to be connected to control two different types of network simultaneously. TCP/IP, UDP, CAN/CANopen and two RS232/485 serial interfaces complete the on-board connectivity. Further networking and fieldbus interfaces may be added via the PLC's dual expansion ports. This variety of communication possibilities gives users the means to evolve control networks easily, to add new machinery or equipment into control system networks for example, even if located on another process line or location.

The AC500 PM595 PLC is compatible with the range of AC500 expansion modules - providing unlimited flexibility for industrial control and monitoring applications. Users can also build systems with integrated functional safety, connecting ABB's safety PLC directly onto a second expansion port. This provides great flexibility for implementing safety-critical applications.

AC500 PM595 is intrinsically robust. The PLC uses non-volatile MRAM memory, and operates without fan cooling - giving great flexibility of location to equipment designers and process automation engineers. An alternative variant of the AC500 PM595 is additionally available for controlling equipment operating in harsh conditions and extreme climates. The XC or 'eXtreme Conditions' version of the PLC adds further protection against a wide variety of threats to reliability including high and low temperatures, high humidity, low air pressure, salt mist and hazardous gases, and vibration and shock. This can greatly reduce industrial control system building costs by eliminating the need for sophisticated protective enclosures with special seals, HVAC, shock absorbers, EMC protection, etc.

To handle the increasing complexity of industrial control applications and the rapidly-escalating costs of developing software, the new PLC is compatible with ABB's renowned Automation Builder programming capability. This remarkable engineering development environment provides an integrated tool-suite for control and motion systems based on PLCs, safety PLCs, motion control and related automation components - reducing software complexity, and cutting time to market and cost of ownership. All the tools required for configuring, programming, debugging and maintaining automation projects are provided via a common intuitive interface.

"PM595 offers control engineers a single platform for today's and tomorrow's applications," adds ABB's Porikis. "The associated Automation Builder engineering tool completes the solution for developers and owners - providing the means to simplify control engineering and standardise on one development platform for all projects - regardless of scale."

The applications potential of ABB's new PLC is extensive. It is especially suited to larger-scale process control applications, with the controller able to offer the same kind of performance levels as an industrial PC for example, but with a much higher level of robustness. Advanced multi-axis motion control systems is another major target, with the PM595 being capable of controlling over 64 motion axes within a 1 millisecond cycle. The versatile communications and security capabilities of the PM595 also suits 'telecontrol' or SCADA supervisory control and data acquisition applications - as required in areas such as power system monitoring and control. The controller's intrinsic robustness, the availability of a ruggedised variant, and the easy means of integrating advanced safety - also makes ABB's new PLC ideal for many of today's most difficult applications, from maintenance-free controllers in applications such as wind turbines or at remote SCADA nodes in deserts or Arctic conditions, to safety-critical applications in equipment such as cranes, mining hoists or automatic guided vehicles. 

ABB ( is a leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers to improve performance while lowering environmental impact. The ABB Group of companies operates in around 100 countries and employs about 145,000 people. 

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