National Instruments Fieldpoint/PLC


Thread Starter

Marc Landry

Hi gang,

We're considering using NI FieldPoint Real-time controllers (looks like and wires up like a PLC, programs in and runs LabView software)... The
application is a retrofit/upgrade of an RTP (rapid thermal processing) system for processing silicon wafers.... Has anybody used this for
machine/process control, mass flow controllers, pressure control, PID for temperature control, etc??? Does it work like it's supposed to???? If so, how did you do the HMI??? It seems to me that unlike a plc, where I can buy a "dumb" panel/touch screen and link the registers to tie in screen icons, buttons, meters, etc.., here I have to have a panel/touch screen and a PC, who's only purpose is to allow the touch screen to communicate with the Fieldpoint controller if I want to use any of the canned Labview icons.. (
which is the only reason we're thinking of using NI.. We are a research lab, and many around here are very comfortable programming in Labview..) ..anybody have any opinions as to why/ why not go this route??? We've done
plc programming, but ladder logic with lots of analog I/O is a pain to program unless you do it for a living (at least that's been my limited experience... I'm not a "real" controls guy like the majority out there-still on the learning curve..... that's why I ask the experts...)


Marc Landry
National Renewable Energy Labs
1617 Cole Blvd.
Golden, CO 80401
[email protected]

Aaron Gelfand


If you have experience with LabVIEW it is fairly easy to use a FP-20xx FieldPoint LabVIEW RT module with various display panels. It really
depends upon the complexity of what you are trying to present to a user as to whether you may or may not need an additional PC to drive a

The FP-20xx modules have both a serial port and an ethernet port so you can talk to most serial or ethernet based displays that publish the
commands that you would use.

Personally, I have used Matrix Orbital Serial LCD/VFD Displays (4x20 with keypad interface), QSI Corp J10 (4x20 handheld serial LCD/VFD with
keypad interface) and K65 (graphical serial touch screen) displays with the FP-20xx series of modules.

I will not address your question of FieldPoint vs PLC's since I am biased towards FieldPoint and have limited PLC experience.

Aaron Gelfand
National Instruments
I don't know anything about the NI FieldPoint, but if you need a controller that is geared for PID loops, analog i/o, and digital control, look at a Moore (SIEMENS now) 353 or Procidia. The programming is very simple in function block logic with lots of analog and digital blocks that you can do about anything with. They come standard with modbus communications and an ethernet option. If you have any questions, drop me a line. Here is a link to the procidia website.


Dear Marc,

We have used LabVIEW with Fieldpoint a couple of times. Like most other NI stuff it works very well. I would not see any problem for most applications other than using a Windows PC for control. Fieldpoint is fast, and accurate, although the software interface to LabVIEW can be a little perplexing depending on what other things LabVIEW has to do. We have used the PC for the HMI so can't help you there.

John Catch
Marc, OK you are not familiar in that gear.
I wonder who is ? _____seriously___________
I zapped Labview from My PC, because the
inefficiency and also because I don't play
if don't see the tool. The version was a trial version. Trial or not, algorithm in instrumentation have no secrets. Therefore if I can not
explore then it's coincidence to me rather than "preuve".
_______Why the Bla..bla...?_____________
The black box may be geared to solve like a math tool: fine. But when it comes to deal with discrete values the story changes. They are not
the same maths.
They are discrete maths. The task of the regulating algorithm is to catch up for changes in input (step ±, ramp, ....). Also, simulate the
response of the closed system (closed including PID) to best match the job.
Except for block 157 (Bailey) the only algorithm I have seen is called "Bilinear". Another algorithm is CPV (Composite Past Values).
CPV is a real PID. Bilinear is not, it does something OK.
CPV follows any kind of input, very quickly and quite insensitive to PID settings.
Bilinear may follow, but is very sensitive to PID settings.
There are other approaches to controlling processes.
Labview ? and what it can do: __No idea.
Why don't you ask your company to purchase Matlab.
In Mathlab, the component called "Simulink" is specially designed to simulate processes. I tell you it's a good gear ! No flaw in there !
Then if Labview or others output same results, you may be more comfortable.
Note: I don't have Matlab (expensive for single user). I have knowledge of the capabilities from seminars and web sites and other collabs.
Remember something: as soon as the process has some memory they all behave ± like generalised second order systems. Never mind multivariate
and all the bull sh*t, control strategies must decouple the interaction between the loops.
Good luck, Marc!
Hi Marc,

Let me start my reply by stating that I work at National Instruments so I won't post an opinion, just a few details. The FieldPoint 2000 family of modules are real-time controller modules for FieldPoint that have the capability to run
embedded LabVIEW code (ie. LabVIEW graphical development, no PC). We have a number of customers who have FieldPoint systems for control using the FP-2000 and some good FieldPoint customer stories with more details are available on our web site at:
Aaron already responded regarding the user interface options but let me give you a little more detail. We have VI's developed and available for two different types of LCD panels. These will allow you to display lines of text
on a screen and input values through a key pad. If you need additional options like working with a touch screen, we can interface with the same "dumb" touch screens from the 2000 using LabVIEW. Most of these touch screens communicate
using an industrial serial protocol. If you choose a touch screen that supports Optomux it gets really easy as there are built in Optomux VIs in LabVIEW. If you want to use a screen that supports modbus or some other protocol some of our alliance members have developed drivers for LabVIEW or you can fairly easily build your own with serial reads and writes. If you want more details I would be happy to discuss HMI applications and the benefits and limitations of the FieldPoint 2000 with you off line. Just drop me an e-mail. We're here to help. Thanks.

Todd Walter
National Instruments
[email protected]


I can't say much on the performance of FP200 as I only tested it for a short time using NI demo but it works well with our process control
strategy (flow/temperature PID loops). I am so comfortable using NI Fieldpoints as we never experience a hard time using the stuff for the
last 4 years NI might have tested well before releasing in the market). If you are comfortable with Labview then there is really no need to
look for a PLC FP300 coupled with Labview will surely be "no sweat" to you once you start your project. A lot has been said by NI user and I
only reply to give support on your plans.

I am using different kinds of PLC and have found Labview & Fieldpoint Realtime superior especialy on the low I/O count that you need.

Rod Flores
[email protected]
Marc, I am trying to accomplish a similar task on an RTP using a computer based control solution in concert with the current RTP hardware. Would like to discuss your application.

Chris Massoll

I am student at Texas A&M University and we are using the FP2010 to remotely control a mobile platform. Everything is working great but we
do have one question... Can we access and use the RS-232 port on the FP2010 during operation? The documentation on the FP2010 says that it
can be used to communicate to serial devices.


Chris Massoll (
Texas A&M University

Will C. Morrison

Our company is doing research for the conversion of waste hydrocarbons into synthesis gas and for coal gasification etc. We needed to implement a complete control system for a bench-scale induction coupled plasma (ICP)gas reformer to demonstrate the viability for the destruction of carbon entrained in off-gas waste streams. The system consists of four main components:

1)High frequency power supply (2.5Mhz),

2)ICP Torch

3)Reaction Chamber

4)Off-gas system.

We needed to be able to monitor power supply cooling water temps and flows, calculate the power losses, control & monitor the plasma gas flow rates, control & monitor the the reactor pressure and temps., etc. etc. etc. Less than 50 I/O count.

We used a FP1001 controller module (RS485), one thermocouple module, two analog input modules, and a couple of output modules and we used NI BridgeVIEW for the HMI and development. I was impressed with how it worked out.

I'v only been using LabVIEW for a couple of years and had NEVER been exposed to BridgeVIEW/Fieldpoint but it only took me a couple of weeks to write the entire program and create the HMI, install all the instruments in the system, build a DAQ cabinet, install the modules and run all the wiring. I especially liked that I only had to run ONE cable back to my control PC.

The FieldPoint modules did everything we needed them to do, including PID control of mass flow controllers, pressure, and temp. And using BridgeVIEW (which is now LabVIEW6i with the SCADA package), we had all the tools we needed to perform data analysis and reporting etc. As a matter of fact, it worked so well that we are considering implementing an entire distributed I/O system on the pilot scale ICP reformer. (you can see it at "": )

Our HMI was done in BridgeVIEW on a single desktop PC. Piece of cake for your LabVIEW guys.

If you want more info give me a shout and i'll pony it up for ya.

Will Morrison
Systems Engineer
Thermal Conversion Corp
2345 Stevens Drive
Richland, WA 99352
(509) 375-1940 or (509) 994-9509