Rexroth Controls Expands Communication Protocols to Advance Connected Industry
Automated factories rely on a host of technology to keep their operations running. A combination of software, hardware, and engineers who know how to put it all together is essential for any business in the connected industry space.
Rexroth knows a thing or two about that. It recently rolled out a new standard for the industry that opens up additional communication protocols and programming languages for its controls and drives. This will give teams better automation support and more flexibility when it comes to designing their systems.
Rexroth is known for its intelligent factory automation gear, including controls, drives, hydraulics, linear motion technology, and much more. Until now, its systems have supported programming languages for PLC and IT automation. The overhaul to its system will include support for HTML5 and Java, two of the most widely-used languages for web-based applications.
The company plans to unveil these changes at the SPS IPC Drives trade fair. By opening up its systems to high-level programming languages, Rexroth is bridging the gap between PLC-based automation and the wider IT world.
The firm has developed a new platform called WebConnector. It serves as a sort of “universal translator” between high-level languages and internet languages like HTML and Java. This includes inputs from smart devices, including WebSocket, Java Virtual Machine, and the new HTML5 standard. The interoperability makes it possible to access controls and drives directly from web applications and vice versa. The automated systems will be able to exchange information with them. In turn, Webconnector opens new doors for the direct programming of control systems using modern languages.
What Does It Mean for the Industry?
PLC programming and internet languages are drastically different. That being said, many engineers have been using PLC code to automate their systems for many years. Its often viewed as the industry standard despite being an antiquated approach in many instances.
Programming with languages like Java and HTML5 lets engineers create much more advanced systems. It avoids the use of ladder logic in favor of more streamlined code.
This will certainly have an impact on the field of industrial automation in the years ahead. Rexroth won’t be the only company to open up its suite of controls and drives to modern programming languages. In fact, this will likely become an industry trend within the next decade. The versatility and ease offered by languages like Java and HTML5 are very attractive to those running an automated system.
As production lines grow more complex, ladder logic programming becomes more difficult to maintain. With new automation components hitting the market every day, modern production lines are certainly complicated. This will help facilitate the transition away from PLC programming to internet languages.
Of course, that transition won’t be painless. PLC was invented to allow engineers and non-programmers to design and implement machines without needing to design complex relay logic. Today, most engineers find it easier to work with modern languages and design logic systems that meet their exact needs.
As the equipment in plants is upgraded to support this new approach to automation, expect to see a decline in PLC programming. Companies like Rexroth are leading the way by opening their systems up to languages like Java and HTML5 ahead of the market. In doing so, it is ready to be a major industry player in the years to come.
For those interested in automation, getting familiar with modern languages now is a good idea. You don’t want to be caught flat-footed as the industry shifts away from the current standard of PLC programming. By bringing together the worlds of automation and IT, Rexroth is helping reshape the automation industry.