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Rockwell's new Micro800 family: compact, flexible, function-rich and inexpensive

02 February 2011

Rockwell Automation says its new Micro800 controller family rewrites the rules on 'fit for purpose'. Designed primarily for stand-alone machine applications, the new range offers easily customised features, an expansion capability that doesn't compromise the system's small footprint and all at what the company describes as a highly competitive price point. Modular design, plug-in modules and simple-to-use software ensure the Micro800 products can be customised to meet application needs precisely

"Machine builders need economical, convenient control products they can customise to suit specific application needs,” says Steve Pethick, director of components and safety business, EMEA at Rockwell Automation. “With this new line, we are delivering the functionality and flexibility of a micro PLC for the price of a smart relay. The greatest value of the new Micro800 family is the simplicity and convenience it offers users – namely, that it provides ‘just enough control’... users will only pay for what they need."

An example of this approach is obvious just by looking at the front face of the Micro810, the smallest product in the family. A removable screen – which also doubles as a program storage and transfer medium – is an option as opposed to a standard. Users have a choice! They can opt for a lower-cost unit without a screen and programme the unit via other means, use a screen as an on-device HMI, or buy a single screen to service multiple units; the choice is completely up to them. This option, Rockwell Automation believes, is not available anywhere else at this price point.

Pethick continues: "By offering multiple plug-in modules, developed by us and our Encompass Partners – all of which are common across the line – we can help machine builders 'change the personality' of the base unit controller in order to address a multitude of different bespoke scenarios and machine sizes. Indeed, to borrow a well-worn phrase, we can now say 'there's a plug-in for that'." This extra functionality is not at the cost of I/O terminals, as the plug-in modules house their own connectors, leaving the base terminals untouched.

"We have also created 'Connected Components Workbench'," Pethick elaborates, "a free component-class programming and configuration environment that combines all primary application development needs into a single package. Through this software and building-block style application packages, we are able to offer our customers 80% of their required infrastructure, already 'in position' with the remaining 20% being application specific."

Following established IEC-61131 standards – supporting ladder diagram, function block diagram and structured text – 'Connected Components Workbench' is a single package that is easy to acquire, install and update. It makes it convenient and cost-effective for machine builders and end users to leverage one platform for their programming and configuration needs. It allows machine builders to configure other devices in the system, including PowerFlex drives and PanelView Component HMI products.

Based on proven Rockwell Automation and Microsoft Visual Studio technology, the new software provides controller programming, device configuration and data sharing with the HMI editor for PanelView Component operator products. In addition, the programming software also features run-time download, which enables live program adjustments. The software comes in two versions: 'Standard', which can be downloaded for free, and 'Developer', which features run-time download,  offline controller simulation and advanced debugging features, is available for order through local Allen-Bradley distributors around the world.

As part of the 'Connected Components' bundle, the Micro800 range can leverage application aids that make selection and application easy, pre-built HMI screens and sample programs, panel layout, bill of materials and wiring diagrams using e-tools, preferred compatibility within the bundle of components and reduced supply chain costs and all components can be sourced from a single supplier – your local Allen-Bradley Distributor. Products include:

Allen-Bradley Micro810 programmable logic controller
As the smallest of the Micro800 family, the Micro810 controller features embedded smart relay function blocks that can be configured from a 1.5in LCD and keypad. The function blocks include Delay OFF/ON Timer, Time of Day, Time of Week and Time of Year for applications requiring a programmable timer and lighting control.
• 12-pt form factor provides:
o 8A outputs eliminate the need for external relays
o DC models allow 4 inputs to function as 4 0-10V analogue inputs
o Program download via USB programming port (adapter required)
o Optional 1.5” local LCD for monitoring/modifying application data. LCD can be removed/inserted under power and can also function as a backup memory module.
o Configure and run core smart relay function blocks without programming (LCD required)
• 18-pt form factor and 26-pt form factor additionally have:
o Increased memory and digital I/O capability
o Up to 2 slots for adding analog I/O, TC/RTD, serial port and other plug-in modules.

Allen-Bradley Micro830 programmable logic controller
The Micro830 controller provides increased performance through its ability to manage up to three axis of motion. It also provides easy incorporation of as many as five plug-in modules and enhanced communication options.
Controllers include built-in support for up to 3 axes of motion
o As many as three Pulse Train Outputs (PTO)
o As many as six High-Speed Counter inputs (HSC)
o 100KHz speed of PTO and HSC available on 24V DC models
o Single-axis moves supported via PLCopen Motion instructions (available in Release 2)
• Use motion plug-in modules to increase performance and extend number of controllable axes to as many as four  (available in Release 2)
• Embedded Communications
o USB programming port
o Serial port (RS232/485)

The Micro810 12-pt controllers, Micro830 controllers and plug-in modules are available Spring 2011, with additional plug-in capabilities and motion control support for the Micro830 controllers being available later.

The Micro 850, the largest unit in the range, will also be available at a later date and will offer embedded EtherNet/IP communications for interfacing to PCs, PanelView Component HMIs, Kinetix drives and PowerFlex drives. The Micro 850 will have the same form factor as the 24- and 48-pt Micro830, but will also be able to support up to four Expansion I/O modules.

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