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Bridging the gap between safety relays and safety PLCs

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Rockwell Automation is introducing the Allen Bradley SmartGuard 600 safety controller. Measuring just 101 x 89 x 127mm, this unit is designed for applications that have traditionally fallen between safety relays and safety PLCs. It helps reduce the wiring and installation costs commonly associated with relay-based systems, and interfaces with programmable controllers to help manufacturers integrate their standard and safety systems for increased productivity.

Jeff Gellendin, the safety product manager at Rockwell Automation, says the SmartGuard 600 bridges the gap between safety relay-based monitoring systems and high-end safety PLCs. It is claimed to be simple to install and easy to program, yet it is engineered to perform complex safety functions and seamlessly link to other intelligent devices on the plant floor – as might be expected with safety PLCs.

The SmartGuard 600 safety controller integrates 16 safety-rated inputs, eight safety-rated outputs, four pulse test sources, a USB port for configuration, and a DeviceNet port that supports both standard and CIP Safety communication - all in a single, compact package. The built-in DeviceNet port allows users to expand the number of safety inputs and outputs by controlling up to 32 Allen-Bradley Guard I/O safety modules, which is the same safety distributed I/O used in GuardLogix systems.

Cost savings

Moreover, the built-in DeviceNet communications can be simultaneously used to convey the status of the safety system to standard PLCs and HMIs. RSNetWorx for DeviceNet is used to configure the DeviceNet network and to program the SmartGuard controller, which is said to be a time-saving step that also saves money by eliminating the need for separate programming software.

Cost is further reduced by incorporating a USB port for programming the SmartGuard 600 controller and for configuring devices on the DeviceNet network, such as Guard I/O modules, thereby eliminating the need for additional interface cards, simplifying maintenance and further reducing system cost.

Additionally, the SmartGuard 600 controller is capable of interfacing with other SmartGuard 600 controllers or with the Allen-Bradley GuardLogix and GuardPLC programmable controllers, enabling users to easily distribute safety control around the plant floor. This is useful for closing high-speed safety loops that may otherwise be too fast for a single safety controller to do on its own.

 
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