Three studies published by ARC Advisory Group outline the benefits of modular-packaging machine design. The reports show how automation practitioners use modularity, why packaging companies seek more modular control architectures, and how machine builders and integrators can improve their revenue through modularity. Reports are available through Elau, a Schaumburg, Ill., automation technology provider.
Rather than write thousands of lines of original software code in a text-based or other monolithic language for each project, modular code, like object-oriented programming, can be copied after it is tested and documented, then reused. Validation is also simplified.
The reports define many benefits of modularity, such as being easy to understand for future users and protecting intellectual property. It also executes rapidly and can handle multiple simultaneous tasks.
For packaging automation, modular languages have been standardized to IEC 61131-3, yet few PLC suppliers and multi-axis motion controllers use the graphical aspects of this standard. Instead, they rely on older logic programming and other proprietary languages. The reports suggest that with modularity, logic and motion could be processed within the same program and on the same processor, eliminating 30% of programming. In the end, running the program on a mainstream microprocessor can speed up its execution.