Automated and robotic machines for manufacturing operations can pose design challenges. Pioneered in automotive manufacturing plants, control automation has made significant headway into many industries. Automated systems optimize space and productivity, performing tasks that might otherwise require extensive manual labor. Automation standards have vastly improved industry-wide machine programming consistency and advanced open system architectures, so today’s users have better equipment and software choices. The expansion of automation into broader applications has spurred demand for smarter, more efficient drives, controls and software tools. Staying ahead of the technological curve requires leveraging state of the art tools.
Tool 1: Modular Code
Consider that roughly eighty percent or more of new machine tasks reflect a variation of past tasks. So, software for a new machine can be generated quickly using code developed for previous generations of machines. Use of modular code programming relies on a control system and modular hardware, but the impact in terms of design freedom and reduction of machine or system design resources is phenomenal.
Modular programming has gained traction in automation control by providing software design modules that conceptually represent desired machine tasks. Application templates and software modules support efficient development of control software to handle most engineering requirements for standardized machine modules. An application template provides the basic structures, while allowing users to create their own machine modules. Software modules created using application templates can be modified and assembled with minimal effort, creating complete customizable systems with modules that can be reused to further drive down costs.