Paul J. Heney, Editorial Director
Bosch Rexroth’s Open Core Engineering connects PLC and IT automation, with a platform that gives developers a greater degree of freedom in software engineering. OEMs can flexibly access the control core of the Rexroth IndraMotion MLC and IndraLogic XLC controller systems from applications based on high-level languages. This allows them to realize customized solutions independently and more easily, and at a lower cost
Open Core Engineering brings requirements from previously separated engineering worlds together in an integrated solution. At its center are software tools and function toolkits that build entirely on open standards and technologies. The new Open Core Interface enhances the software engineering (which until now has been focused on PLC automation), enabling it to work with applications based on high-level languages. With numerous function libraries that are adapted to different development environments, it is now possible to have functions directly access the control core. This allows OEMs to realize customized software functions in-house—and to integrate IT technologies based on high-level languages into their automation solutions. The Open Core Interface makes it possible to integrate production machine functions and data out of IT-based applications such as management execution systems.
With the Open Core Interface, OEMs are free to choose their platform—PC, controller or smart device—and the required programming language: From C/C++, C# (.NET), Visual Basic, VBA (Office), LabView G, Objective-C and Java to all programming applications that support the integration of Microsoft COM libraries. They can even realize customized control functions for real-time applications independently of the control program. Thus, engineers can use high-level languages to write their own software functions, which then run as low-level real-time application directly on the control, or in non-real-time on external devices such as PCs or smart devices. Now machinery manufacturers can realize innovative functions themselves—even those that require enhanced core access. This will also allow them to protect their know-how.
The Open Core Interface supports Apple iOS and Google Android. The high market penetration of smart devices combined with their innovative and comfortable operating concepts is generating a lot of interest with machinery manufacturers and operators. With the Open Core Interface, OEMs can develop application programs with Java as native apps, integrate smartphones seamlessly into the automation process, and support machine operators with new diagnostic and operating concepts. The native applications run entirely on the smartphone or tablet, so that the machine program remains untouched.
Open Core Engineering combines these new degrees of freedom in software engineering with engineering efficiency from project planning to ongoing operations, which is what the market had been demanding. The IndraWorks software integrates all tools in the form of function toolkits in an integrated engineering framework. The GAT (Generic Application Template) software toolkit, for instance, automatically generates the executable machine program based on the developer’s instructions, thereby laying the foundation for the development of modular machine software. Another example is the FlexProfile software toolkit. It simplifies the execution of complex machine functions by automatically adjusting all drive movements to changed parameters in the production process.
A variety of industry- and technology-specific software toolkits speed up the engineering as OEMs receive already pre-made basic functions.
Filed Under: ALL INDUSTRIES, Factory automation, Design World articles, Software