Four collaborate on reference platform to streamline development of programmable logic controllers

August 15, 2012 // By Nick Flaherty
Four companies have come together to produce a reference platform to speed up the development of programmable logic controllers.

The reference platform integrates well-established EtherCAT protocol software from koenig-pa (KPA) of Germany , PLC firmware from ISaGRAF and the QNX Neutrino real-time operating system (RTOS) to boost the functionality, reliability and performance of control applications communicating via the EtherCAT protocol. The hardware is based on Freescale Semiconductor’s dual-core QorIQ P1025 processor and also supports Ethernet/IP, PROFINET and PROFIBUS protocols.
The PLC reference platform delivers millisecond response times for EtherCAT tasks, while using just one percent of one core in the dual-core QorIQ P1025 processor. This leaves ample performance headroom to run both the communications protocol and the control application in a single device. Customers may also choose to distribute processing functions across two cores, or isolate real-time control functions on one core while running maintenance and communications functions on the other core.
The ISaGRAF PLC Firmware allows developers to easily create feature-rich control systems based on industry-standard control languages such as IEC 61499 and IEC 61131-3. This allows easier migration of existing applications to new platforms based on QorIQ processors and the QNX Neutrino RTOS. ISaGRAF provides a complete control application development environment called the ISaGRAF 6 Workbench, which features plug-ins for features such as IEC 61131-3 compliant languages, an integrated HMI, and the KPA Studio for integrated EtherCAT slave management. ISaGRAF’s modularity allows customers to create a customized Workbench, with only the functionality required for their control product.
The QNX Neutrino RTOS offers both adaptive CPU partitioning and multicore support and brings key qualities to automation and control systems, including process isolation, scheduling predictability, and self-healing mechanisms.
“OEMs in industrial control applications are challenged by increasingly compressed time-to-market windows and the need to cost-effectively maintain and evolve these systems over long product lifecycles,” said Bob Monkman, director of Business Development for QNX Software Systems. “QNX Software Systems provides an ideal operating system platform for reliability and easier programming of industrial control systems. A pre-integrated reference design platform combining