PACcubes is a new all-round system for automation and monitoring, developed by the engineering company ProSign GmbH. The controller is programmed with the in-house graphical programming system PACstudio. To create a decentral control unit in terms of Industry 4.0, the Programmable Automation Controller PACcubes Station is implemented into PACcloud over an MQTT client. Besides the well-engineered hardware and the connectivity between the devices, special emphasis is placed on the graphical programming system. To program a PACcubes Station or the PACcubes IO Modules, not even a line programming code has to be used – all PACstudio applications are built with function blocks. They consist of technical signs and symbols with a high memorability effect. That is why technicians and engineers can realize their own ideas in the PACcubes Station with the least possible effort.
PACcubes: Graphically Programmable Automation Controller (PAC)
The PACcubes hardware consists of the PACcubes Station and the PACcubes IO Modules. Both are graphically programmable. Each module can be programmed and used as an independent controller. The difference between the PACcubes Station and the PACcubes IO Modules, however, lies in the performance of the processors, as well as in the operating system. The PACcubes Station runs with Linux, while the PACcubes IO Modules run with the ARM operating system RTX. The Programmable Automation Controller is also available in a solid aluminum housing, so it will run failure-free under extreme and unfavorable conditions. It protects the controller from dust, dirt, water, manipulation, stealing, etc. For conventional conditions of use, a switch cabinet housing for modern, flexible and modular measurement, control and automation systems is offered, too.
PACstudio: Block Diagrams as Language of Technicians and Engineers
What makes the programming system special, is that it is simple. No actual programming language has to be learned. With PACstudio, applications are programmed graphically, which means technical signs and symbols are linked together into a block diagram with so-called function blocks. Engineers and technicians from very different disciplines are increasingly taking part in the software development of devices and machines, meaning that they would normally have a long process to learn a programming language. With PACstudio, users do not have to learn a new programming language – graphical programming of the PACcubes Station and the PACcubes IO Modules is very intuitive and easy to understand. Function blocks are implemented on the worksheet by drag&drop. Subsequently, the finished application is uploaded on the controller. At the same time, the block diagrams are translated into a machine-readable code.
PACcloud: On the Internet of Things by graphically programming the controller
PACcloud is the key to a successful automation of controllers, as the cloud is the foundation of data and information exchange between devices and machines. It is also possible to monitor decentral systems over internet-based monitoring. For example, data can be recorded in a local memory and a central data cloud. The PACcubes Station is brought into the cloud instance of the IBM Internet of Things Foundation over an MQTT function block. That is how not only the connectivity amongst in-house devices is guaranteed, but also to devices of other companies. The event publish and the command subscribe are implemented by the MQTT protocol over a function block.
The German software engineering company ProSign Process Design GmbH is developer of the graphical programming software iCon-L as well as all programs resulting from that software framework like miCon-L, test.con and the automation solution PACcubes. ProSign has many OEM partners with who they distribute controllers for different conditions and requirements with programming software which is exactly tailored to the controller.
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