Programmers of machine control in the US still stick with the old Ladder Diagram editor, so Opto 22 adds it to its groov EPIC controller. This is sort of the outlier of the things I learned at last weeks’s ARC Industry Forum in Orlando. Most of my interviews were either cyber security or HMI/SCADA it seems. I had wall-to-wall meetings and then travel. So, I’m just catching up on thoughts.

Somewhere around 25-30 years ago I could program (not proficiently, but turn out work anyway) in BASIC, C, C++, Java, Pascal. Then I ran into Ladder Logic. Why would anyone do this, I exclaimed! In the US all this time later, it’s Ladder or nothing in much of the country. Maybe the millennials can move this forward???

Recognizing this fact of life, the prototypical flow chart programming company, Opto 22 has added a free software upgrade with standard IEC 61131-3 programming methods.

Opto says, “Adding these new programming options to the existing flowchart and custom user-written options in groov EPIC gives control engineers the ability to program using a variety of languages they already know, while taking advantage of the EPIC’s extended capabilities for automation and industrial internet of things (IIoT) applications. All IEC 61131-3 standard languages are supported by groov EPIC, including Function Block Diagram (FBD), Structured Text (ST), Sequential Function Charts (SFC), and Ladder Diagram (LD).”

Engineers can mix and match several software tools to build control and IIoT solutions on one unified platform. Plus companies can continue to leverage existing employee knowledge in IEC 61131-3 programming methods, including decades-old ladder logic.

The PC-based CODESYS® Development System V3 is used to create and compile IEC 61131-3 programs for download to a pre-installed CODESYS Runtime running on groov EPIC. The CODESYS Development System is available at no charge from the CODESYS Store. The CODESYS Runtime on groov EPIC is enabled by a free software license available from Opto 22.

“As the world’s leading manufacturer of independent IEC 61131-3 software,” stated Markus Bachmann, President of the U.S. subsidiary of the CODESYS Group, “we are excited that CODESYS has been chosen to boost Opto 22’s groov EPIC to the next level in industrial automation products, integrating state-of-the-art industrial control with new IIoT and Industry 4.0 applications.”

In addition to IEC 61131-3, groov EPIC can also be programmed using Opto 22’s native PAC Control. Field-proven, flowchart-based PAC Control with optional scripting offers 400+ plain English commands for analog process and digital sequential control, complex math, conditional branching, string handling, and other complex functions.

Other programming options include using software languages supported on the Linux operating system through secure shell. This access—along with toolchains and interpreters for Java, C/C++, Python, JavaScript/Node.js and more—allows developers to create custom applications. In addition, groov EPIC includes Node-RED as another programming option. Node-RED uses a flow-based development environment optimized for edge data processing and communications.

Integrated HMI

groov EPIC integrates the easy-to-use HMI software groov View with its control programs. Once an IEC-61131-3, PAC Control, or custom software application is developed, the control program’s tags and I/O are available for building a groov View HMI. Data from other systems and equipment on premises, at remote locations, and in the cloud can also be included in the HMI. The drag-drop-tag HMI construction is quick, security is built in, and trending and user notifications are included.

Authorized users can view this HMI to see data and control processes on the integral, industrial-grade color touchscreen display on the front of the EPIC processor. They can also view the HMI on an external HDMI monitor, and from any web browser or mobile device.

Free Product Upgrade

To take advantage of this new programming option, current groov EPIC owners can simply install a free upgrade. As with all quarterly upgrades to groov EPIC since its introduction in February 2018, this upgrade requires only a software download. Unlike all other industrial automation products and platforms, groov EPIC is improved quarterly based on user feedback, with no need to replace existing hardware. These software upgrades provide significant performance improvements and protect user hardware investments, all at little or no cost. The groov EPIC system can change with you as your application grows or changes.

groov EPIC System

Based on Opto 22’s 45 years of experience as an automation manufacturer, the groov EPIC system merges tough industrial hardware with open protocols and standards to provide an ideal system for both automation and IIoT applications. Built to withstand conditions at the edge of networks in factories and remote locations, EPIC is approved for use by UL in hazardous locations and is ATEX compliant. EPIC can be used to collect, process, view and exchange data where it is produced, and this data can then be securely shared among databases, cloud services, PLC systems and other components. In recognition of its unique capabilities, groov EPIC won the 2019 Control Engineering Engineers’ Choice Award in the Industrial Internet of Things Connectivity category.

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