The Unity automation platform from Schneider Electric integrates production, enterprise management, and supervision into one hardware and software platform.
The Unity automation platform from Schneider Electric integrates production, enterprise management, and supervision into one hardware and software platform.

In the quest to simplify control-system design, motion-control companies have been pressed to become one-stop shops for control components and systems. In that vein, Schneider Electric, North Andover, Mass. (www.schneider-electric.com), has released Unity, an integrated software and PLC-processor automation platform.

Unity is said to be an open platform that aids in collaboration between software at all stages in an application life cycle from design through implementation, operation, and maintenance. It makes use of Web technologies such as XML and Microsoft languages such as VBA and Visio.

Unity consists of several packages. Unity Studio is a project management and engineering platform for collaborative control applications. The Unity Application Generator is a PLC/HMI-integration package mainly for the process industry. And Unity Pro holds across the complete life cycle of PLC applications.

From a hardware perspective, Modicon PLCs feature a Unity processor that talks across the Modicon platform of PLCs such as the Quantum, Premium, and Atrium lines. The Telemecanique Modicon PLCs have more memory for programs, data (7-Mbytes Flash memory) and trace files (8-Mbyte PCMCIA card.)

The Microsoft Visio graphics editor lets users describe the process to be automated and the topology of the architecture. Unity Studio then helps increase speed and consistency for synchronization of applications on Ethernet.

Unity Developer's Edition, or UDE, includes development software for IT engineers in VBA, VB, or C++. It provides access to all Unity Pro and Unity Studio object servers. It can be used to develop made-to-order programs and modules such as interfaces with an electrical CAD system, a variables generator, or PLC programs.