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Automation engineering software suite delivers new levels of productivity

12 July 2015

The speed and efficiency of industrial control and machinery automation projects can be enhanced significantly with a new release of ABB's integrated development tool suite.

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 - substantially 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 widely-used 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 well-known 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 important 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 high level features for optimal productivity and easy collaboration, and simpler management of engineering data on large-scale projects involving thousands of I/O points.

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 - to name a few.

Software development is the most expensive element of the vast majority of automation projects. By providing a unified development environment for the complete scope of automation projects, ABB is helping application experts, software and hardware engineers to focus their time and effort purely on developing the application, and not waste time on the myriad of interfacing issues that can arise when building solutions using many different types of automation devices.

ABB estimates that the Automation Builder environment can reduce development engineering effort by around 30 percent for medium complexity projects, and deliver even higher savings on large-scale projects! This is particularly the case for projects involving many different types of automation components.

Automation Builder provides powerful PLC development resources in the form of the standards-compliant IEC 61131-3 development environment, and ABB's Panel Builder tool for creating HMIs. The software suite also includes tools for configuring and programming the latest generation of ABB’s safety PLCs - the AC500-S - family - the RobotStudio tool for simulating and programming ABB robot applications, and the Mint WorkBench tool with its pre-built and tested libraries for programming ABB’s servo drives.

Users can find out more and download a trial version of Automation Builder here.


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