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“B&R Automation Studio is extremely flexible”

 The size of the automation solution doesn’t make a difference. Whether you’re working with a small machine or automating an entire plant, you can still work with the same tool.Hans Egermeier, Business Unit Manager – Automation Software, B&R
B&R’s Automation Studio engineering software is a universal tool for every phase of an automation project – from development and commissioning to maintenance and diagnostics. Hans Egermeier, Business Unit Manager – Automation Software, B&R, speaks about current challenges facing the automation industry and the new functions available in Automation Studio.
The contribution of software engineering to the development of new machines and systems is constantly increasing. What challenges face engineering platforms such as Automation Studio in relation to Industry 4.0?The demands facing machines and systems are on the rise: improved product quality, faster production speeds and series production with a batch size of one are just a few examples. No matter what, the software has to be able to handle increasingly complex tasks. We need tools that can master this complexity. At the same time, ensuring an environment that fosters innovation is a must. New systems, machines and applications have to be developed and set up quickly. This also means that software like Automation Studio must provide the maximum possible degree of flexibility.
What functions have been implemented in Automation Studio to meet these challenges?It’s not really the individual functions that make Automation Studio an ideal engineering platform. The entire concept is much more important. That’s why anyone who uses B&R technology to automate their machines only needs a single tool: Automation Studio. This one development environment handles all essential product types – from the controller and HMI systems to motion control and even safety technology, everything is fully integrated. The size of the automation solution doesn’t make a difference. Whether you’re working with a small machine or automating an entire plant, you can still work with the same tool. Whenever you develop a new variant of an existing machine, it’s possible to reuse a large part of the software.
For machine manufacturers, engineering is only part of the job. What do things look like after development is finished?Development is only one part of Automation Studio. This software can also be used to manage all other tasks, including commissioning, troubleshooting and service. In addition to the advanced simulation tools also integrated in Automation Studio, its modular and object-oriented approach to programming ensures that software is simple and clearly structured, regardless of the degree of complexity.
Is all of this enough to keep development going at the required rate?No, it is also necessary to stop developing the mechanical, electronic and software components of a project separately. Automation Studio makes it possible for these three engineering disciplines to be worked on simultaneously to a very large degree, which saves quite a lot of time. Even more time is saved when the software is developed in modular units.
Isn’t it much more complicated to work on multiple areas at the same time?Yes, it’s more complicated, but structured and modularised software development and clearly defined interfaces allow software to be reliably developed and tested in self-contained modules. It even allows for improved software quality. With the mechanical components, modular machine concepts have already more than proven their worth. Whereas the traditional approach has been to develop an entire machine generation in one fell swoop, it is now possible to develop upgraded versions of individual components separately. This evens out the load on the development team and relieves the pressure associated with notoriously tight completion deadlines. We are now applying this kind of modularisation to software development.
Do developers need to receive extra training for parallel development?Automation Studio is extremely flexible. We rely on widely used standards such as IEC 61131 and C/C++, which allows everyone to program in their preferred programming language and software to be easily reused and swapped out. Special training for parallel development is not needed. Automation Studio’s flexibility is also evident in other areas. For example, it is easy to link defined interfaces and formats from other engineering software, such as simulation tools from MATLAB and MapleSim or E-CAD applications from EPLAN Electric P8.
Additional interfaces on the controller also make it easy to establish database and Internet connections. Of course, all common fieldbus systems are also supported. OPC UA, TCP/IP and UDP can be used to connect directly to the supervisory level. And by combining the real-time Ethernet POWERLINK protocol, openSAFETY and various conventional fieldbus systems, we can offer a complete portfolio when it comes to communication.
Automation Studio is constantly being further developed. What are the latest innovations?We have implemented many improvements that make it even easier to develop new software. This includes simplified hardware configuration using a virtual control cabinet and integrated drive sizing. We have also introduced unit testing, a feature that provides a structured test for software that goes a long way to ensuring total quality assurance. Another advancement is the implementation of OPC UA, which allows the highest level of integration directly on the controller. In addition, we have implemented a wide range of technology solutions for the printing and process industries, for example. These packages include complete solutions for typical application tasks in a certain industry, allowing for much easier and faster development.
About B&RA global leader in industrial automation, B&R provides complete solutions for machine and process automation, motion control, HMI and integrated safety technology for every industry. With industrial fieldbus communication standards like POWERLINK and openSAFETY as well as the powerful Automation Studio software development environment, B&R is constantly redefining the future of automation engineering.
B&R India has its head-office at Pune, Maharashtra and four other offices in India. B&R is fully equipped to cater application, supply and support requirements right in India. The global headquarters as well as the manufacturing centre is at Eggelsberg, Austria.

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