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Advantages for Users of IEC 61131-3

Last updated: 27-07-2007

Intro IEC 61131-3

IEC 61131-3 is a world wide standard. It harmonizes the way people look to industrial control by standardizing the programming interface. This includes the definition of the language Sequential Function Charts (SFC), used to structure the internal organization of a program, and four inter-operable languages: Instruction List (IL), Ladder Diagram (LD), Function Block Diagram (FBD) and Structured Text (ST). Via modularization and declaration of variables each program is additionally structured, increasing its re-usability, reducing errors and increasing efficiency. In addition, IEC 61131-3 structures the way a control system is configured.

General Advantages

As IEC 61131-3 deals with standardization, it provides advantages to the users of this standard. General advantages are:



Reduced waste of human resources
High level of software re-usability creates a focus to problem solving
Reduced misunderstandings and errors
Provided programming techniques usable in broad area: general industrial control
Combines harmoniously different components form different locations, countries, and projects

Advantages to users

Users: which users?

Users of the IEC 61131-3 standard is a very generic term. They can be found in a broad area, covering all aspects of the industrial market. In the whole supply chain one can distinguish between different types of users:

(independent) software suppliers

industrial control hardware and systems suppliers

programmers

suppliers of production units (machines)

system integrators

SCADA and DCS suppliers

end user of industrial equipment, both discrete manufacturing and process control

installation parties

(independent) maintenance people

(independent) training providers / educational level


Benefits for (independent) software suppliers

IEC 61131-3 provides a standard definition for their software development environments
Standard more and more accepted by their customers, creating a large potential market
Market is broader: general industrial control
Independent software development possible: hardware adaptations limited to specific part only. Creates focus to fulfilling customer requirements
Differentiation possible on efficiency, user friendliness, coupling to other programs and tools, pricing structure, support, training, user documentation, language availability, function block libraries, etc.
Multiple independent suppliers support the acceptance of the standard

Benefits for control suppliers

Also as supplier, the IEC 61131-3 provides general benefits:

no internal specification needed
market acceptance increasing: often pre requisite
recognition and acceptance of the company
ability to concentrate on differentiating added value
access to 3rd party modules and tools
increased total available market through wider application areas
merge path for different product lines
provides link between past and future (e. g. softlogic)

Advantages for programmers

Well structured, 'top-down' or 'bottom-up' program development
Provides tools for decomposing the problem into manageable units
Support for development in a group with different backgrounds and/or levels
High level of re-usability of code
Strong datatyping prohibits programming errors
Support for full execution control
Support for complex sequential behavior description (SFC)
Data structures for easy exchange of data elements
Flexible language selection, matching different backgrounds
Vendor independent software development possible

Advantages for suppliers of production units (machines)

Provides more independence towards suppliers at control level
Provides basis for re use of software across platforms
Higher flexibility in personnel: not limited to one system only
Less training required
Higher efficiency in coding
High level of re-usability reduces costs and increases confidence in planning
Provides tools to specify requirements at higher level
Better comparison between different offers, esp. software development
Provides link to existing personnel
Usable world wide, over and over again
Provides a standard communication tool between engineers at different locations

Advantages for system integrators

Provides more independence towards suppliers at control level
Provides basis for re use of software across platforms
Higher flexibility in personnel: not limited to one system only
Less (cross) training required
Higher efficiency in coding provides reduction in costs
High level of re-usability reduces costs and increases confidence in planning
Provides tools to specify requirements at higher level, providing better communication with clients
Usable world wide, over and over again
Provides a standard communication tool between engineers across the organization

Advantages for SCADA and DCS suppliers

Provides means to broaden the available market by integrating the control part
No need for own, internal specification
Large range of independent software suppliers to choose from, creating the basis for optimal solutions
Link to broad area of third party products and training

Advantages for end user of industrial equipment

Provides more supplier independence at control level
High level of re-usability reduces costs and increases confidence in planning
Provides tools to specify requirements at higher level
More independent towards system / service suppliers
Better comparison between different offers, esp. software development
Provides link to existing personnel
Usable world wide, over and over again
Provides better communication tool between engineers at different locations

Advantages for installation parties

Easier commissioning, through structured programming
Less errors, reduces on-site debugging and gives shorter installation times
Multi-brand control systems can be supported
Less training of personnel, providing flexible work force and knowledge sharing
Becomes pre requisite of end user in lots of markets

Advantages for (independent) maintenance people

Support for multiple brands possible without retraining
Separation between different levels possible via function blocks
Selection of languages provides often different views for different countries
Structuring tools provide better overview
Often on-line, case sensitive help functions provided, and support for multiple windows, providing easier debugging

Advantages for (independent) training providers / educational level

Supplier independent courses possible
Product independent courses possible
Better matching of theory and praxis, esp. at schools / educational level
Based upon up-to-date programming techniques and structural thinking