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PC-based control redefines future chances for photovoltaics

As an energy source, photovoltaics has developed from a niche application into an established globally used alternative to fossil fuels. Most solar power plants are based on crystalline silicon technology. In this process, silicon is extracted from quartz sand in several melting and cleaning steps, and it is then further processed into blocks commonly known as ingots. These are then sawn into thin slices known as wafers. In wire sawing solutions, a wire encrusted with diamonds is stretched over rollers to form a wire field, so that only minimal cutting losses occur when cutting the wafers. Beckhoff offers the ideal automation products for this process. However, the technological know-how in the selection of servomotors and drives is also of great importance: In order to reduce energy consumption when cutting the wafers, the braking energy of the motors for the diamond wire saws is fed back. The wafers are further processed into solar cells, which convert the sun's rays into solar power. In the first step, saw damage to the wafers is eliminated by means of wet chemical processes and optimized by the texturing process. The cells are then fed to the PECVD process. Plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) machines for passivation and anti-reflective coating processes in solar cell production have been revolutionized by the use of PC-based control. The machines controlled in this way are characterized by excellent process performance and low operation costs.

Contacts are subsequently applied to the solar cell using the screen printing process. The electricity generated in the solar cells is discharged via metallic electrodes. This gives the surface of the cell a fine contact grid. The solar cells then run through a furnace to sinter the solar cell metal contacts. Due to the optimized unloading of the furnace by means of PC-based control, the solar cells can be fed to the downstream test systems in an optimized cycle. The solar cells are further processed into solar modules through connection by means of soldering bands called strings. The electrical connection between them takes place in the laminator. The strings are positioned on the glass and encapsulation material (layup) and thus form the solar cell matrix. In order to protect the solar cells against environmental influences, the individual layers are connected together and framed in a vacuum. In the final assembly, the finished solar module is equipped with the electrical connections and tested for power, voltage and electroluminescence.

 PC-based control from Beckhoff ensures seamless monitoring of the individual production processes and thus ensures high product quality of the manufactured solar modules.
PC-based control from Beckhoff ensures seamless monitoring of the individual production processes and thus ensures high product quality of the manufactured solar modules.

Beckhoff technology highlights for the photovoltaic production

The Beckhoff product range covers the main areas of Industrial PCs, I/O and fieldbus components, drive technology and automation software. Product ranges that can be used as separate components or integrated into a complete and mutually compatible control system are available for all sectors. The TwinCAT software PLC and Motion Control solution is at the heart of the scalable and modular Beckhoff control technology, which provides suitable solutions for every task in photovoltaic production with regard to computing power, complexity and cost.
The Beckhoff product range covers the main areas of Industrial PCs, I/O and fieldbus components, drive technology and automation software. Product ranges that can be used as separate components or integrated into a complete and mutually compatible control system are available for all sectors. The TwinCAT software PLC and Motion Control solution is at the heart of the scalable and modular Beckhoff control technology, which provides suitable solutions for every task in photovoltaic production with regard to computing power, complexity and cost.

The PC-based control principle

Mechanical engineering for the photovoltaic industry is under constant performance and cost pressures. The further developments in solar module technology as well as the networking of the machines up to the cloud connection are the challenges that companies have to face in the industrial production of solar modules. On the part of mechanical engineering, therefore, there is a necessity to integrate new technologies in order to increase plant efficiency and transparency. It is therefore important to identify the cost drivers and to regularly test them: a wide variety of special hardware and software components, which perform their service reliably for the moment, not only causes high procurement costs, but is also complex and costly in engineering, networking, and maintenance as well as in long-term spare parts maintenance. If the functional extension of a machine necessitates a design change of this special hardware, all of the above factors come into play once again.

A way out is offered by PC-based control as an open platform: a large number of hardware and software providers, as well as services, standardized and inexpensive interfaces and, most importantly, unimaginably high performance make the PC controller an indispensable helper in all aspects of automation technology. Beckhoff addresses the industrial requirements for PC-based control through the consistent in-house development and production of its Industrial PCs, including the motherboards, TwinCAT automation software and the EtherCAT real-time fieldbus system. The long-term availability of hardware, industrial design, real-time qualification, a high degree of diagnostics and scalability form the foundation of PC-based control by Beckhoff. Continuous advances in the PC sector, e.g., in terms of microprocessor technology, are constantly incorporated into the development process of Beckhoff Industrial PCs, thus guaranteeing an organic and automatic increase in performance for the future

The inherent scalability of all components in terms of price, performance and design makes it possible to use the same control technology throughout, i.e. from a simple wafer and cell handling machine to a diffusion furnace. The result is: consistent system from one machine class to the next, no specialized development teams and an unbeatably large portfolio of modular hardware and software that covers almost every area of use and application case. Mechanical engineering for the photovoltaic industry is no longer imaginable without PC-based control.

Due to the power of modern microprocessors, such as those that Beckhoff uses in all of its PC series, even complex automation operations can be integrated into the controller at any time without changing the system: image processing systems (TwinCAT Vision), special software modules created with Matlab®/Simulink®, special know-how implemented by the customer in the C/C++ programming language, machine learning and many other computationally intensive applications can easily be executed from the PC controller. But what if the PC cannot cope with the load? Choose the next larger Industrial PC from Beckhoff. The system architecture and the required know-how remain the same, and the software implemented in TwinCAT is taken along.

Due to its high speed and bandwidth, EtherCAT is ideally suited for mastering the complex processes in photovoltaic production machines and for the linking of production plants. The integration of existing machines is also very simple: Beckhoff offers numerous gateway solutions that enable older technologies to be integrated into the EtherCAT world.
Due to its high speed and bandwidth, EtherCAT is ideally suited for mastering the complex processes in photovoltaic production machines and for the linking of production plants. The integration of existing machines is also very simple: Beckhoff offers numerous gateway solutions that enable older technologies to be integrated into the EtherCAT world.

EtherCAT: the global standard for mechanical engineering in photovoltaics

More than 6,000 companies worldwide have joined forces as members of the EtherCAT Technology Group (ETG) to support the technology developed by Beckhoff, which is the basis today for almost all leading-edge photovoltaic machines. With cycle times well below 1 ms, outstanding synchronization accuracy, flexible network topology selection, extensive diagnostics and simple configuration, EtherCAT is ideal for mechanical engineering in photovoltaics and has established itself here as a communication standard. The real-time fieldbus handles all communication and is an I/O, safety and drive bus system all in one. Due to its widespread use around the world, many EtherCAT-compatible devices, sensors and actuators are available on the market, ensuring a high level of investment security and guaranteeing a suitable solution for every problem.

The high speed of EtherCAT results in a higher cycle time while at the same time increasing the accuracy of the processes. EtherCAT shows its strengths in two ways: the high-precision acquisition and output of signals down to the nanosecond range (XFC technology) leads to a precise detection of the solar wafers and cells. The resulting control of the machine platform for loading and unloading is carried out with the highest accuracy. When using EtherCAT, manufacturers of photovoltaic machines are fully in control. They do not have to consider the communication structures at all. The plant is planned and built; EtherCAT fits in with the selected plant topology. Line, star or tree topology is fully supported by EtherCAT without impacting performance. And best of all: standard TCP/IP-based devices such as scanners, barcode/QR code printers or other devices from the classic IT landscape can be simply connected via EtherCAT.

EtherCAT P reduces the wiring work and saves space in the control cabinet.
EtherCAT P reduces the wiring work and saves space in the control cabinet.

EtherCAT P minimizes assembly times

Each cable is one too many, provided there is a technologically better alternative to it. Cables are a not inconsiderable cost factor in mechanical engineering in photovoltaics – they have to be procured, configured, connected and, in the worst case, assembled. In subsequent operation, cables are a source of error, especially when they are moved. Bending and torsional movements in drag chains and robots lead to wear. EtherCAT P significantly reduces this expenditure. It combines EtherCAT communication with the power supply for the connected consumers in a 4-wire standard Ethernet cable. All benefits of EtherCAT are retained, including free choice of topology, high speed, optimum bandwidth utilization, dynamic processing of telegrams, high-precision synchronization and extensive diagnostics. This makes EtherCAT P the ideal system for sensors and actuators in mechanical engineering in photovoltaics. The result: less wiring, fewer parts to maintain, reduced complexity and lower costs without loss of functionality.

XFC represents a control technology that enables very fast and highly deterministic responses. It includes all hardware and software components involved in control applications: optimized input and output components that can detect signals with high accuracy or initiate tasks; EtherCAT as very fast communication network; high-performance Industrial PCs; and TwinCAT, the automation software that links all system components.
XFC represents a control technology that enables very fast and highly deterministic responses. It includes all hardware and software components involved in control applications: optimized input and output components that can detect signals with high accuracy or initiate tasks; EtherCAT as very fast communication network; high-performance Industrial PCs; and TwinCAT, the automation software that links all system components.

XFC increases the performance of your machine

The processing of solar cells is a dynamic process. Many processing operations on the cells take place without a stop, on the fly. It is therefore crucially important that the position of the solar cells to be processed is exactly known before and during processing. Thus, the processing machines can be switched on and off exactly without damaging the solar cell; the more precisely this happens, the higher the quality of the cells. TwinCAT automation software and the EtherCAT high-speed communication system are the basic function blocks for this. Cycle times in the lower millisecond or even sub-millisecond range allow fast reaction and response times; nevertheless, these times cannot be completely eliminated.

The XFC (eXtreme Fast Control) technology helps with its Distributed Clocks (DC) functionality: this technology provides the machine with a nanosecond-precise system time. All signals from the field and calculations within the controller are referenced to this time. On this basis, the time for controlling the machine can be calculated with high precision and sent together with the actual signal information to an EtherCAT output terminal. PLC and fieldbus-related delays, which are always bound to occur, can thus be compensated almost completely in this application.

Another property of XFC, oversampling, is also used to improve the process. This technology is used whenever it comes to acquiring or outputting signals from the machine with an even higher resolution, despite PLC cycle times that have already been set very short. The trick: in an EtherCAT cycle, up to 100 temporally equidistant values of a signal are transmitted at a stroke; the temporal resolution of the signal is also appropriately increased by this factor. Accuracy in the detection of wafer and/or solar cells increases and the stringing of the solar cells can be done without additional hardware.

TwinCAT simplifies project management, simulation and diagnostics

The demands placed on mechanical engineering in the photovoltaic industry are growing. The fulfillment of individual wishes adapted to the manufacturing process is the daily business and often forms the prerequisite for lasting success on the market. The basic problem in this is that the ever-increasing plant complexity leads to an enormous range of machine versions. The available development and design time is subsequently significantly reduced, while commissioning and on-site testing quickly exceed the allotted time. If it then turns out at the last moment that a detail was not considered during the design phase, it becomes all the more complex and expensive. The Beckhoff TwinCAT 3 software system provides a remedy.

Engineering and commissioning phase
In this phase, the connection for source code management systems integrated in TwinCAT supports the engineering team. All changes can be traced at any time from the very beginning, and different project versions can be merged in a targeted manner. The more developers adhere to fixed conventions, the more readable the source code will be. The monitoring of any specified programming rules is performed by a static code analysis. TwinCAT 3 PLC Static Analysis ensures that the programmer is alerted to deviations from established conventions during the engineering phase.

TwinCAT 3 Simulation
The earlier errors in the engineering phase of a machine are noticed, the lower the cost of eliminating them will be. In case of doubt, the time of recognition determines whether a project can be profitable at all. The trend is therefore toward machines being simulated during development. However, the requirements vary a great deal. A manufacturer of standard machines tends to use a simulation that is as detailed as possible, as the high “one-time effort” for its creation is always worthwhile. A manufacturer of special machines is more likely to need solutions that are easy and quick to implement. TwinCAT supports both user groups with several products:

TwinCAT 3 CAD Simulation Interface

  • A machine is designed using modern CAD systems. The TwinCAT 3 CAD Simulation Interface is a tool for coupling TwinCAT with a 3D CAD system. TwinCAT thus controls a virtual photovoltaic machine represented in the CAD system in non-real-time. This 3D simulation of machines is a central part of the implementation of a virtual commissioning. In the simulation, the movements and interactions of the individual installed components are displayed in the group and collisions and critical machine states are determined in advance. In addition, the simulation is used to train operators and maintenance staff in advance for regular operation and to define work instructions for troubleshooting using simulated critical machine conditions

TwinCAT 3 EtherCAT Simulation

  • The TwinCAT 3 EtherCAT simulation is used for real-time simulation of the connected devices via EtherCAT. This “virtual” hardware behaves exactly like “real” devices connected to EtherCAT, including all runtime properties. The aim is to test and optimize the generated control code at an early stage of machine engineering, even without real existing hardware, to accelerate the actual commissioning.

TwinCAT 3 Target for Functional Mockup Interface (FMI)
TwinCAT 3 Target for Functional Mockup Interface (FMI) supports the standardized interface for the coupling of simulation software. FMI is used by a great many software manufacturers that specialize in generating dynamic models of mechanical systems and bodies. The model generated in this way can be integrated into TwinCAT 3 and controlled like a real existing system in order to examine the properties. A simulation of these dynamic systems usually takes place at the beginning of the development of a machine and gives the mechanical designer and the software developer deep insights into the dynamic behavior of a machine.

TwinCAT 3 diagnostic functions
TwinCAT 3 has a built-in extensive diagnostic system. All system information can either be viewed directly in the TwinCAT 3 Engineering Environment (XAE) or can be recorded in real-time and in a cycle-synchronous manner with the TwinCAT 3 Scope. A subsequent analysis is also possible. The TwinCAT 3 Realtime Monitor enables the diagnosis and optimization of the runtime behavior of tasks and processes in the TwinCAT 3 runtime. And if you wish to go one step further: TwinCAT 3 Analytics is the optimal software tool for being able to realize and offer long-term analyses across several machines for diagnostic purposes, for machine and production data acquisition or for predictive maintenance.

TwinCAT Motion Control: drive system for highly dynamic positioning tasks

TwinCAT is the universal software platform for all control functions. Where drive control is concerned, the focus is on TwinCAT's extensive possibilities for controlling uncoordinated and coordinated movements of a large variety of electrical axes. Two challenges have to be overcome that are often seemingly irreconcilable: On the one hand, there are a variety of different drive technologies in photovoltaics. On the other, different methods of coordinated movement are often chosen depending on these technologies and the type of machine.

Drive technologies:

The TwinCAT Motion Control software controls drive systems and technologies that are very different in their behavior and characteristics: These include stepper motors or small servomotors for the transport of solar wafers and/or cells, as well as highly dynamic servo drives for the diamond wire saws. The scenario is supplemented by a variety of motor-integrated and external measurement systems with various interfaces. The coexistence of all these types is not uncommon in large plants.

Axis movements:

The way in which the many different axes have to be moved depends on the type of machine: Single axes, axis coupling, differential gear or synchronizing functions are among the standard requirements for the machine in photovoltaics.

TwinCAT offers the appropriate software function blocks for this purpose:

All safety functions can be integrated into any conceivable machine architecture with TwinSAFE: from the stand-alone controller to the small controller and from the
All safety functions can be integrated into any conceivable machine architecture with TwinSAFE: from the stand-alone controller to the small controller and from the "classic" solution to the distributed controller and the software controller, which meets even the most complex requirements. End customers thus get exactly the complete safety package that they need. Unnecessary costs for incorrectly dimensioned safety solutions are avoided.

TwinSAFE: the open and scalable safety technology

TwinSAFE from Beckhoff provides a universal safety concept that integrates safety functionalities into the standard control platform: from the PLC via I/Os to the drive technology. All safety functions such as emergency stop, safety door monitoring, two-hand operation, safety mat evaluation and muting, safe position, safely limited speed, etc. can be programmed and/or configured on the integrated TwinCAT engineering platform. Safety technology is seamlessly integrated into the terminal segment via the TwinSAFE I/O modules, whereby safe signals can be mixed with standard signals as required.

The typical safety functions can be programmed or configured according to the safety requirements in an EL6910 TwinSAFE Logic Terminal or the EK1960 compact safety controller on the basis of standard safety function blocks. All Beckhoff safety controllers are suitable for applications up to SIL 3 according to IEC 61508 / Performance Level e of ISO 13849-1. The EL6910 and EK1960 safety controllers support complex, safe analog evaluations.

With the help of the TwinSAFE SC (Single Channel) technology, it is possible to use standard signals for safety tasks in any network. For this purpose, corresponding EtherCAT Terminals are available for the acquisition and safe transport of these signals via EtherCAT.

Large networked machine applications pose major challenges for all parties involved, especially with regard to safety technology. Many networked machines with their own safety areas, spread over large production areas, hinder the overview and make subsequent extensions and adaptations a Herculean task. TwinSAFE offers the option to completely or partially decentralize the safety application as required. Each machine can easily be equipped with its own safety logic. The TwinSAFE logic is part of every safe input or output terminal and also of many drive components. It makes it easy to create autonomous safety areas that can communicate with one another. During production and commissioning, individual machines can be verified and validated in terms of safety by the respective department.

Beckhoff product highlights for the photovoltaic production

The compact DIN-rail-mounted PCs from the CX series with directly connectable I/O level offer a space-saving industrial controller in the control cabinet. Beckhoff's extensive range of embedded controllers includes a device tailored to the budget, performance class and complexity of the control task for each application.
The compact DIN-rail-mounted PCs from the CX series with directly connectable I/O level offer a space-saving industrial controller in the control cabinet. Beckhoff's extensive range of embedded controllers includes a device tailored to the budget, performance class and complexity of the control task for each application.

Modular Industrial PCs for the DIN rail

With the CX series of Embedded PCs, Beckhoff combines PC technology with the modular I/O level on the DIN rail in the control cabinet. By adding individual modules and interfaces, only the components that the user needs for the respective application are installed. In this way, the Embedded PCs open up a wide range of applications – from solar wafers to solar module production.

Due to their ruggedized design, the compact Embedded PCs from the CX series are suitable for use as powerful and reliable controllers in industrial conditions. The fine scalability in different device classes allows users to select exactly the right performance category for their applications. High-performance machine controllers with multi-core processor technology are available in the CX5100 and CX5200 Embedded PCs. The devices in this performance class are suitable, for example, for the control of machines for anti-reflection coating. The CX20x0 and CX20x2 device series are high-end controllers for demanding applications, such as the integration of image processing, the realization of Machine Learning or the aggregation of large amounts of data.

Another advantage of the Embedded PCs series – as with Beckhoff's entire Industrial PC portfolio – is the long-term availability of spare parts, which offers the customer a high level of investment security.

Fanless Intel® Core™-i-Power for the ultra-compact Industrial PC generation.
Fanless Intel® Core™-i-Power for the ultra-compact Industrial PC generation.

Extremely space-saving, flexibly expandable and built to last: the new generation of ultra-compact Industrial PCs

Vibration, power supply fluctuations and high currents transmitted via a variety of cables, which are often high-frequency and loaded with harmonic components – these factors result in electromagnetic interference fields, the invisible enemy of every control technology. This is the typical environment in solar module production and the conditions in which machines and plants must function reliably.

Beckhoff meets these requirements with the C60xx Industrial PC series (e.g. C6015 and C6032). As always with Beckhoff, the device, which is developed in-house including a motherboard, power supply and a complete housing concept, is ruggedized by design. Among other things, this allows the devices to operate at ambient temperatures up to 55°C despite high power. These temperatures typically do not occur in an air-conditioned control cabinet, but outside these air-conditioned zones, close to heat-producing units and in countries with extreme weather conditions, they quickly become a real challenge. However, durability in the industrial environment is not the only credo. The Industrial PC diagnostics provide the machine manufacturer and operator with comprehensive information about the operating state of the device at all times: this information is accessible via a simple web browser and can be evaluated directly in the PLC and displayed in the plant visualization as required.

These data also include the state of the storage media (SSD) used, which can operate in RAID mode, for example, if two storage media are used. And should a change of a storage medium be necessary after a long period of operation: despite the compactness of the device, simple and fast maintainability is ensured.

One of the biggest challenges is fluctuations in the IPC supply voltage. There can be various reasons for this: a high number of consumers within an industrial company with a high demand for power and consequently the possible occurrence of incalculable peak currents is a common reason. Regardless of the cause, the consequences are severe, especially in the case of linked production plants. There may be hundreds of workpieces in different machining states in the plants, which often extend over entire halls. If an Industrial PC ceases to operate during full production due to a voltage fluctuation or even a complete failure of the supply voltage, the restart is associated with a high expenditure of time and cost. Therefore, the Industrial PCs from the C60xx series can optionally be extended by a CU81xx UPS. The UPS ensures that important control and operating data are saved securely in the event of major voltage drops and that the Industrial PC is shut down in a controlled manner. A quick restart of the plant and thus a high availability is guaranteed.

The extensive range of EtherCAT Terminals consists of electronic terminal blocks for use in the control cabinet or terminal box. Unlike the fieldbus-neutral Bus Terminals, the fast EtherCAT standard is integrated into the individual EtherCAT Terminal. The EtherCAT Terminal system offers extensive solution options for the realization of all tasks and challenges in automation technology: a suitable product is available for virtually every type of signal and every application area. Other fieldbus protocols can also be integrated into the EtherCAT network.
The extensive range of EtherCAT Terminals consists of electronic terminal blocks for use in the control cabinet or terminal box. Unlike the fieldbus-neutral Bus Terminals, the fast EtherCAT standard is integrated into the individual EtherCAT Terminal. The EtherCAT Terminal system offers extensive solution options for the realization of all tasks and challenges in automation technology: a suitable product is available for virtually every type of signal and every application area. Other fieldbus protocols can also be integrated into the EtherCAT network.

EtherCAT I/O modules integrate temperature control, energy measurement and safety technology into the control platform

In 1995, Beckhoff launched the Bus Terminal, which has since become one of the most important technology standards in automation technology. That was followed in 2003 by the development of the EtherCAT fast communication system. Launched by Beckhoff as an open system, it became a global standard in automation within a few years. An extensive EtherCAT I/O Terminal portfolio is available to users that is extremely well suited for automating every functionality in plastics machines and their peripherals in terms of both its performance and variance.

EL3318 for temperature measurement

  • The EL3318 EtherCAT Terminal is ideal for temperature measurement via thermocouples. The 8-channel input terminal with integrated cold junction compensation is very compact in its design and measures temperatures with high accuracy and high signal-to-noise ratio.

EL3403 for power measurement

  • The EL3403 3-phase power measurement terminal can monitor the energy consumption of a continuous furnace. In combination with TwinCAT 3, the EL3403 provides cost-effective monitoring of the fire zones in the continuous furnace.

EL6910 and EL3124-0090 for safety monitoring

  • The EL6910 TwinSAFE Logic integrates safety technology into the controller. Due to its scalability, the Beckhoff safety solution is suitable for complex machines with distributed I/Os as well as for use in smaller solar wafers and cell handling machines. One TwinSAFE terminal is sufficient here to realize the complete safety Technology.
  • The EL3124-0090 analog EtherCAT input terminal processes signals in the range of 4 to 20 mA. With the help of the TwinSAFE SC (Single Channel) technology, it is possible to use standard signals for safety tasks. This technology is ideally suited for monitoring machines for passivation and anti-reflection coating processes such as those used in the production of solar cells.

In combination with the Motion Control solutions of the TwinCAT automation software, Beckhoff drive technology represents a complete drive system for all applications in the photovoltaic industry. Due to its scalability, it enables machine manufacturers to design their drive solutions to meet performance requirements.
In combination with the Motion Control solutions of the TwinCAT automation software, Beckhoff drive technology represents a complete drive system for all applications in the photovoltaic industry. Due to its scalability, it enables machine manufacturers to design their drive solutions to meet performance requirements.

Highly dynamic, modular, scalable: Beckhoff drive technology

The photovoltaic industry requires a high degree of precision: Each step in the production of solar wafers and cells, the lamination of the solar modules and the various handling processes must be carried out with high accuracy in order to produce high-quality solar modules. Any deviation comes at the expense of quality or leads to complex post-processing or even to scrap, with a negative effect on the yield.

In combination with the TwinCAT Motion Control software and EtherCAT, the fast communication system, the scalable Beckhoff drive system completely covers the high requirements profile of the photovoltaic industry: The integrated, fast control technology of the AX8000 and AX5000 servo drive series supports fast and highly dynamic positioning tasks. In the lower performance range, the EL7xxx EtherCAT drive terminals represent an inexpensive and compact alternative.

The extensive range of linear and rotary servomotors is tailored to the servo drives. The AM8000 motor series is characterized by the One Cable Technology, in which power and feedback are combined in a standard cable. For applications with simple positioning drives, Beckhoff offers the full range of drives, such as stepper motors or DC motors.

TwinCAT integrates all engineering and runtime processes on a central software platform.
TwinCAT integrates all engineering and runtime processes on a central software platform.

TwinCAT 3: the universal engineering and control platform

TwinCAT 3 integrates all engineering and control functions into one universal software platform. This applies to programming, configuration, real-time environment and all runtime modules. By programming in the common IEC PLC dialects and the integration of C/C++ algorithms, the photovoltaic machine manufacturer can freely choose the most suitable programming method, depending on the programmers' task and the service strategy. With the integration of MATLAB®/Simulink®, control concepts are developed on a model basis and thus make their contribution to virtual machine design. The TwinCAT 3 interfaces to Machine Learning algorithms allow the use of AI methods in the traditional control environment. Through the use of Microsoft Visual Studio® as a uniform programmer workbench, different versioning systems are supported and team work is simplified. With the Automation Interface, TwinCAT 3 offers open interfaces for the integration of commercial IT systems for programming machines for series production.

  • Extensive TwinCAT libraries for motion control save development time thanks to tested and optimized algorithms. The TwinCAT 3 PTP and TwinCAT NC I supplements are ideally suited for handling applications with Cartesian robots. Ready-to-run solutions are available with TwinCAT Kinematic Transformation for other robot kinematics, such as SCARA, Delta and articulated arm.
  • Commissioning and service processes are accelerated and improved with TwinCAT Scope, a software oscilloscope fully integrated into the TwinCAT system architecture, and thus contribute to increasing machine quality.
  • TwinSAFE software-based safety technology simplifies the wiring of complex systems; variants can be mapped in software. This allows, for example, the modular development and commissioning of production cells. Documentation is also simplified and adaptations to additional customer requirements can be implemented quickly.
  • The integrated, browser-based TwinCAT HMI visualization solution enables convenient development and maintenance of visualization objects. The information is presented either on the machines and systems or via the internet using a web browser.
  • TwinCAT 3 IoT provides the prerequisite for data aggregation in the cloud or locally in the edge controller. For this purpose, TwinCAT 3 includes standardized communication protocols for cloud applications. TwinCAT 3 Analytics can be used to evaluate the collected data.