ABB recently released a new integrated development toolsuite. Automation Builder 1.1 provides an integrated development environment for solutions using the spectrum of automation components – including PLCs and safety PLCs, motion controllers, drives, robots and HMIs – reducing software complexity and cutting time to market and cost of ownership.
Among many new features, the latest release of ABB's software extends the data exchange capabilities with electrical planning and engineering software, with a new bi-directional interface to the EPLAN Electric P8. Electrical automation and PLC design data may be imported, modified and transferred back to the electrical CAD environment – eliminating any need to manually enter data and thereby ensuring synchronization of signal identification between the two software environments.
The release now includes a comparison function that allows engineers to see what might have changed since they last looked at a project, and the ability to use profiles of previous development tool versions for compatibility.
Support for new hardware includes the ability to program the latest member of the AC500 PLC family – the PM595 CPU – programming ACS880 IEC61131-3 programmable drives and the DCT 880 thyristor power controller, and developing motion control systems with ABB's new MotiFlex e180 servo drives or the ACS580 general-purpose drive.
Another new element of the software is the introduction of an easy-to-use download and licensing system. ABB offers three licensing options: a basic version suitable for first time PLC users and engineers working on smaller-scale automation, motion and drive projects - this is available at no cost; a standard version which supports integrated engineering of advanced and complex systems including the use of safety PLCs; and a premium version.
The premium version incorporates C/C+ programming tools, E-CAD interfaces and other features for increased productivity and easy collaboration.
With Automation Builder 1.1, users may also automatically update the suite of software tools to the latest versions using a “one click” mechanism, and a single license covers all of the software packages included.
ABB has also introduced many usability improvements to further enhance the user's productivity. These include simplified drop-down menus, drag-and-drop features on the object tree, an improved device repository with search and filter functions, a powerful list editor for AC500 I/O mapping, and a re-worked help system.
ABB estimates that the Automation Builder environment can reduce development engineering effort by around 30% for medium complexity projects, and deliver higher savings on large-scale projects. This is particularly the case for projects involving many different types of automation components.