Combining the PC and PLC: Baumüller to Debut Latest Control Technology at Hannover MesseApril 06, 2021 by Robin Mitchell
Baumüller will present its latest development in combined PLC and PC technology, the b maXX PLC, at the Hannover Messe Digital Edition on April 12th.
The Baumüller Group, headed in Nuremberg, is a German company specializing in developing and manufacturing electric drive and automation systems for industrial applications. Founded in 1930, the company has grown to have over 1,900 employees worldwide and has over over 40 global locations.
Baumüller is listed as a top 10 provider for drive and automation engineering solutions and is quality managed to 9001:2015.
Services offered by Baumüller include dive and control engineering, shaft servicing, servo motors, AC/DC motors, generators, and transformers. Their technical services include installation, troubleshooting, maintenance, remote diagnostics, upgrades, and motor oil production. Products produced by Baumüller include PLCs, PCs, servo controllers, motors, and I/O controllers.
b maXX to Debut at Hannover Messe
Baumüller announced that it will demonstrate its latest development in the PLC and PC industry at the Hannover Messe Digital Edition on April 12th. The new product, called the b maXX PLC, is a combination of a PLC with an industrial PC to combine both systems’ advantages into a single unit.
PLCs are a critical component in industrial environments as they read sensor data and provide output signals to control actuators, motors, indicators, and other systems. While PCs have more powerful processing speed, PLCs are reliable logic controllers that can meet strict timing requirements and respond in real-time to signals changes.
However, the increasing use of IoT technologies in industrial applications, as well as the use of predictive methods (i.e., AI), means industrial processes using PLCs often require secondary processors (such as industrial PCs) to handle complex IIoT and AI tasks. This increases the overall cost of the system as well as decreases efficiency with more connections and controllers.
The b maXX PLC. Image used courtesy of Baumüller
The b maXX PLC by Baumüller helps to overcome this problem by combining both an industrial PC with a PLC into a single, small DIN mounted unit. The unit, powered by an Intel x86 CPU, can handle the complex data analysis used by many Industry 4.0 applications such as predictive maintenance and can also implement business models.
Furthermore, the x86 architecture allows for the controller’s PC side to run a Windows operating system. This gives it access to extensive Windows application libraries as well as powerful programming platforms such as .NET.
b maXX Technical Specifications
While the b maXX PLC has not been released yet, some product details are currently available (mainly from the controller’s PC side). The new combined device has a quad-core Intel Atom E3845 clocked at 1.91GHz, and has 4GB DDR3 SDRAM. The controller has 32GB of integrated eMMC FLASH memory for storage and 128kB FRAM used as non-volatile RAM (essential for power outages and configuration retention).
The unit also has a microSD card slot supporting up to 32GB of external FLASH storage, connectors on the system, including HDMI type-C, IN and OUT connectors (for PLC), and 1000Mbit Ethernet (EtherCAT). The b maXX PLC has stainless steel construction for rigidity and is IP20 rated with dimensions of 110mm x 90mm x 35mm.