One of the industry leaders in the development of equipment and software for monitoring the safety of industrial systems.
The customer manufactures safety PLCs used to ensure the safety of industrial equipment that is used in safety-related parts of control systems. When new devices are added to an industrial system, the operator has to update the device information and customize the system parameters.
The transport layer must be configured to connect the PLC to other devices in the industrial system. One of the networking protocols is EtherCAT, which provides high performance and low response time.
The customer wanted to extend the functionality of the PLC program editor to simplify the process of configuring system parameters after importing new devices. To speed up EtherCAT network setup, the customer needed a service to import data from ESI, ENI files of connected devices to automatically configure the system.
One of the tasks of the PLC program editor is to provide system configuration and visualization of the network communication. We have developed and integrated EtherCAT configurator into the program editor to import information about new devices and automatically configure the system.
Our engineers analyzed the customer's solutions architecture and found a way to seamlessly integrate new components without compromising system functionality.
The information required to configure communication with a specific device is contained in the ESI file supplied with devices operating via the EtherCAT protocol. ESI (EtherCAT Slave Information) is an XML document used by EtherCAT master stacks to customize the slaves and create the ENI (EtherCAT Network Information), which is needed to generate network topology description files.
The EtherCAT configurator makes it possible to add new slave devices to the program editor library, as well as the necessary information to configure the system: device description, types of transferred data, settings, etc.
The GUI visualizes all necessary information from the loaded ESI file. The system operator can add all the modules of a new device to the program editor or select only the required packages. When a particular module is loaded, information about the inputs/outputs and other characteristics required for configuration is displayed. After the module is loaded into the program editor, the EtherCAT configurator automatically customize the parameters required to integrate the new module into the system.
The EtherCAT configurator provides the ability to work with ENI (EtherCAT® network information) files. An ENI file describes the network topology: the devices included in the network and the connections between them. When a new device is added to the program editor, the EtherCAT configurator generates the ENI file and visualizes the current system configuration based on the information contained in the ENI file.
We have successfully integrated the developed component into the customer's PLC program editor. The EtherCAT configurator allowed the customer to simplify the process of importing new EtherCAT connected devices into the program editor, speed up the system configuration and reduce the chance of human errors.