Rockwell Automation's new Allen-Bradley L7x programmable automation controller (PAC) range is said to set new benchmarks in terms of speed and performance. This new level of capability will widen the range's application base significantly, especially as it now exhibits the processing power and speed necessary to handle motion applications over EtherNet/IP.
Its ability to take motion applications under its wing, in conjunction with Allen-Bradley Kinetix 6500 servo drives and RSLogix 5000 software, will help simplify many installations, as users will only need one network and one programming environment, as well as benefiting from seamless PAC-to-PAC and PAC-to-enterprise connectivity.
The new L7x PACs – the 8Mb L73 and 32Mb L75 – thanks to their new, faster, dual-core custom CPU, are faster than the L6x range. They also offer increased axis support – from 32 to 100 axes. As well as the upgraded processor, applications will also benefit from enhanced SDRAM memory, which, as well as being more robust, offers faster read/write capability.
From the users' perspective, the standard USB port will help improve performance for flashing firmware, upload/downloads, on-line edits and bridging to the backplane. Compact Flash has also been replaced by an optional, removable Secure Digital (SD) memory card. The SD card is faster and more robust than Compact Flash and is rated for use in SIL 2 applications. Capabilities include application/project storage, firmware supervisor and run time tag data read/write.
New Energy Storage Module
Rockwell Automation is also using the launch of these new controllers to introduce the Energy Storage Module (ESM), which ships with each controller. The ESM eliminates the need for lithium batteries as well as the maintenance and environmental issues associated with the transport and disposal of lithium batteries. The new controllers also feature an on-board display that provides enhanced controller diagnostics and run-time information.
These PACs are suitable for rapidly expanding and information-intensive applications, such as batch processing, where additional memory is needed for recipe management. Faster cross-loading also makes them suitable for high-availability systems (ie where redundancy is necessary). As part of the Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture system, the ControlLogix PACs offer users all of the benefits inherent in the company's popular Logix Control Platform for maximum ease of use, namely a common programming environment, common network and common control engine.