The benefits normally associated with hardware PLC systems will now be available on a PC thanks to a ‘soft’ PLC motion control system developed by Rockwell Automation.

SoftLogix 5800 is a PC card that delivers the functions of ‘hard’ PLC systems with the added benefits of using standard Windows software, such as sophisticated graphics and networking capability.

Ease of use is further enhanced by the incorporation of a Sercos interface that replaces the bundles of wires previously required to connect the controller to the servo drive with a single fibre optic cable.

The system’s higher processing power and larger data storage is a key advantage. Featuring a memory holding over 30 advanced motion instructions, SoftLogix is ideal for applications requiring lots of data, such as flame cutting metal. Applications with large data warehousing needs, such as pharmaceuticals, are expected to benefit from supply chain tracking.

Users of Rockwell’s hardware PLC system ControlLogix will be able to convert to SoftLogix with ease due to the similarity between programmes. This also affords SoftLogix users the flexibility to swap to a hard PLC should the need arise.

The first customer is set to be Kliklok Woodman, which plans to use SoftLogix to automate the handling of wire crates used between dairies and retailers that were previously manually operated.