ABB Automation Builder: Engineering software for integrated industrial automation

ABB Automation Builder is the new integrated software suite for machine builders and system integrators that want to automate their machines and systems in an integrated and efficient way. With this software suite, the ABB division “Discrete Automation and Motion” is reaching an important milestone on the road to achieving fully integrated engineering of discrete automation solutions.

The software package contains the programming and configuration tool for the ABB PLC, Control Builder Plus, with electrical drives parametrization and drive application programming as integrated plug-ins. As a unique feature, ABB now includes the market leading offline robot programming and simulation tool, RobotStudio, providing customers with simple and fast interfacing of a PLC with a robot controller.

Additionally included are the Panel Builder for touch screen panel programming and the motion engineering tool, Mint Workbench. The underlying Automation Builder Platform allows common data storage and usage of common functionality by the integrated software tools.

For customers, the consistency of the ABB Automation Builder delivers significant engineering efficiency improvements as well as simplified management and maintenance of the entire automation project. This helps to save time and to increase software quality by consistent data and software versions.

With the Automation Builder, various controller families can be combined in one automation project, and they can be configured and programmed from a single software suite. With a choice of various programming languages, the most suitable language for the particular application is available. At the same time, the USB-ROM distribution medium with a common installer ensures trouble-free and quick installation – on a customer-specific or project-specific basis.

The ABB Automation Builder contains the following components and functionalities:

  • Installation manager
    The installation of the various software packages from the USB-ROM stick can be configured on a user-specific basis. The memory space on the hard disk and the installation time can thus be adapted to reflect the requirements. Individual components and update packages from ABB can easily be installed at a later date if necessary.
  • Engineering platform
    The engineering platform is the core of the Automation Builder suite. All tools save their project data in the platform, which also provides a shared object data structure for configuration. The relevant plug-ins and tools for the different devices are started from the platform. It is also the portal for web-based content, like application examples, device descriptors, news and software updates.
  • Engineering of PLC AC500 and AC500-eCo
    The PLC configuration, programming, debugging and diagnostics are based on the PLC engineering tool Control Builder Plus in the new version 2.3. CODESYS technology guarantees comprehensive PLC functionality. It is now also possible to perform integrated C programming via the GNU compiler for the AC500 PLC. The integration of the devices via standardized fieldbuses ensures openness to third-party devices.
  • Configuration and programming of Safety PLC AC500-S
    The configuration and programming of the AC500-S safety controller is seamlessly integrated into the Automation Builder. The AC500-S can optionally be combined with non-safe devices in the project. The programming takes place analogously to the standard PLC, but with a safety-certified editor in accordance with SIL 3 (IEC 61508) and PL e (ISO 13849). Unique features that should be emphasized are the safety programming in Structured Text (ST) and the use of trigonometric functions, for example for kinematic calculations.
  • Human Machine Interface – CP600 touch panels
    The Automation Builder also offers various options for flexibly creating a user interface for the ABB control panel family CP600, using web visualization or the Panel Builder 600 V1.8. Here joint project data management is implemented, too.
  • Configuration and programming of drives 
    The updated, integrated Drive Manager permits the remote configuration and online diagnostics of ABB low-voltage drives via the PLC network, which speeds up commissioning and diagnostic of the entire system. A new feature is the application programming of the ABB industrial drive ACS880 with an embedded PLC based on CODESYS. System integrators and machine builders can utilize the drive-based control with the drive’s inputs and outputs to implement cost-effective, decentralized control.
  • Motion control – MicroFlex e150 servo drive
    With the integration of Mint Workbench V5706 into the Automation Builder, it is now possible to use the EtherCAT servo drive MicroFlex e150 with an AC500 as central multi-axis motion controller. A dedicated motion control library based on PLCopen is available. Hereby, the ABB motion control offering around the MINT product lines NextMove, MotiFlex and MicroFlex is extended by a PLC-based solution.
  • Robot interface – IRC5 robot controller 
    The latest version of RobotStudio, the software tool for the configuration, programming and simulation of ABB robots, is part of the Automation Builder suite. Essential new features of version 5.15 are improved ease of use, new robot models and the option to import larger amounts of CAD data by Windows 64-bit support. The robot controller is quickly connected to the AC500 PLC as a fieldbus device. Common fieldbus I/O signals are defined and transferred to RobotStudio. From there, the IRC5 I/O communication can then be configured easily and consistently. This means that the PLC and the robot become part of the same automation project and inconsistent interfaces are now a thing of the past

In 2011, ABB Germany generated sales of EUR 3.43 billion with approximately 10,000 employees. ABB is a leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers as well as wholesalers to improve performance while lowering environmental impact. The ABB Group of companies operates in around 100 countries and employs about 145,000 people.

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