IDEC Corporation announces the release of its MicroSmart FC6A Plus, a powerful PLC with up to 2,060 local I/O. With its expanded I/O capacity, the FC6A Plus can control and monitor the largest machines or entire small-scale manufacturing facilities, a capability seldom found in a micro PLC.
To ensure high-level performance with this expanded I/O count, basic instructions can be executed in the extremely fast speed of 21 nanoseconds, and program memory is 800 kB (100K steps), much larger than competitors’ micro PLCs. These capabilities are combined with extensive data memory, more than double the capacity of a typical micro PLC. These features allow the FC6A Plus to handle large programs with complex control requirements such as PID, flow totalization and recipes.
Two models are available, each with 24 Vdc input power. The 16 I/O model has 8 inputs, and 8 relay or transistor outputs. The 32 I/O model has 16 inputs, and 16 transistor outputs. Each model also includes an integral 0-10 Vdc analog input with 12-bit resolution. Each model can accommodate up to three plug-in discrete, analog, serial communication or Bluetooth cartridges. Each discrete cartridge has 4 discrete I/O points, either 4 inputs or 4 outputs. Each analog cartridge has 2 analog I/O points, either 2 inputs or 2 outputs.
Up to 63 I/O expansion modules can be added. This gives the FC6A Plus the capability to handle up to 2,060 I/O with a maximum of 511 analog I/O, much more than a typical micro PLC.
The FC6A Plus also includes an optional Bluetooth wireless communication adapter, giving users the power to monitor the PLC and download/upload programs from any PC or laptop with Bluetooth capability. This eliminates the need to stock, locate and connect a cable to the PLC for these tasks, and provides access to the PLC from a distance up to 10 meters. In addition, any device with Bluetooth capability, such as a bar code reader, can also be configured to communicate with the PLC.
FTP communication allows users to configure the FC6A Plus as a FTP Client or Server for transfer of programs and logged data between a server and the PLC, providing a convenient and effective way to remotely communicate with the PLC. Up to 16 users can be managed simultaneously, and access folders can also be managed. Files can be stored at the PLC or logged to the PLC’s SD memory card for transfer to an FTP server.
All models have two built-in RJ45 Ethernet ports. Optional Plug-in communication cartridges can be added to create two additional RS232C/RS485 ports. With the addition of serial communication modules, up to 33 RS232C/RS485 serial ports are supported
The PLC’s Ethernet port supports the Modbus TCP protocol, and the serial port supports the Modbus RTU protocol. Support for the BACnet communication protocol will be available in mid-2018 to provide communications with building automation components and systems. An SD memory port and a mini-B USB port can each be used for data logging, program storage/transfer, firmware updating or recipe storage.
An optional HMI module can be added to the CPU to provide operator interface via its display and control buttons. The HMI module can also accommodate an optional plug-in analog cartridge, and it has an integral Ethernet port. Using the operator interface functionality, any PLC parameter can be updated.
The FC6A Plus is one of world’s first micro PLCs with full-featured app access from any iOS or Android smartphone or tablet. These WindEDIT Lite apps can be downloaded for free on the Apple App Store or Google Play. Although browser-based access is also included, many users will prefer the one-touch access and superior speed of the app.
With the WindEDIT Lite app, users can upload and download user programs; monitor and control any parameters in the PLC; monitor and clear PLC error status; start and stop the PLC; send and retrieve program and logged files to a cloud database; and manage the SD memory card. Access control can be configured with different layers of user privilege and password. Connection from a PLC to the WindEDIT Lite app can established using Wi-Fi (internet) or Bluetooth.
IoT capability is provided by default web pages or by custom web pages, each of which can be configured for remote monitoring and control. Web pages are created within standard IE, Firefox or Chrome web browsers using pre-built objects and symbol factories via simple drag-and-drop functionality. No HTML programming is required, a major advantage over competing products.
Web pages are stored in the PLC’s user web page 5 MB of memory space, or in the optional SD card’s 32 GB of memory space. Using this storage capacity, users can create professional web pages with high levels of graphical content without worrying about memory limitations.
These web pages allow the PLC to function as a web server when one of its two built-in Ethernet ports or the HMI Ethernet port is connected to the Internet. These web pages can be accessed via any web browser running on any Internet-connected device such as a remote PC, a tablet or a smartphone.
Connecting the Ethernet port on the PLC, or on the optional HMI module, to the Internet also provides email and text notification functionality, which can be used with third-party email servers such as Gmail and Yahoo.
The FC6A Plus is programmed with IDEC’s WindLDR PC-based software, which includes no cost updates for the life of the product, and which can be used to program IDEC’s entire line of controllers in a simple and intuitive manner. Software programs from IDEC FT1A, FC4A, FC5A and FC6A PLCs can be automatically converted by the WindLDR programming software for execution on the FC6A Plus.
PLC programming languages include Ladder, Function Block Diagram and Script, the latter similar to the C programming language. The Script language can be used to create more complex programs, particularly those with multiple sub-programs and custom function blocks.
Industries particularly well suited to the FC6A Plus include oil & gas, chemical, solar, marine, packaging, food & beverage, material handling, utility vehicles, and OEM machinery and process skids. Within these industries, a wide variety of applications are a good fit—especially those requiring control of standalone machines, process skids, vehicles and small-scale systems. With its expanded I/O capabilities, the FC6A Plus is also capable of controlling entire small-scale manufacturing and other industrial facilities.
As with all its products, IDEC offers free tech support for the FC6APlus, with no service or support contract required.
Filed Under: Industrial automation