Solar power

Scalable performance permits tailor-made solutions in the solar industry

Beckhoff offers the complete control system, finely scaled in all performance classes: from the intelligent Bus Terminal Controllers and the compact Embedded PCs with integrated I/O interface to Industrial PCs with multicore processors. This scalability extends to the motion system with servo and stepper motor drives in the compact format of a standard 12 mm Bus Terminal to the EtherCAT drive series for the medium and upper performance ranges, along with the associated motors. The Beckhoff I/O systems cover all fields of application, from the drive controller to measurement and safety technology.

More than 400 different I/O terminals cover all signals required in the solar industry. From the measurement of millivolts to digital and analog inputs and outputs, from the direct driving of DC motors, stepper motors or drives with a CAN interface to energy measurement, all sensors and actuators can be directly connected. The modular structure of the Beckhoff system offers extreme flexibility for the solar industry. Standard components can be easily “plugged together” to form customised, yet cost-effective solutions. Fast implementation of the plant controller (engineering) and simple maintenance are ensured with the TwinCAT software environment.

Process optimisation and cost reductions with universal system solution

The data is managed by a PC controller, which is DIN rail mounted or with a compact cabinet-mount design. The universality of a PC- and EtherCAT-based control solution from Beckhoff facilitates efficient interaction of all system components. An ever increasing number of functions, such as safety technology, Condition Monitoring or measurement technology, are being imaged in software and integrated into the PC-based controller. The basis for this is the high computing performance of modern processors, the fast communication speed of EtherCAT and TwinCAT 3, the multi-core-capable automation software. TwinCAT 3 is the uniform engineering and run-time environment for all common programming languages from IEC 61131-3 to the high-level languages C/C++. Safety technology is integrated seamlessly into the PC Control platform with TwinSAFE, the highly efficient safety solution from Beckhoff.

EtherCAT – Industrial Ethernet as a communication backbone for the fastest controllers

EtherCAT, the real-time Ethernet system from Beckhoff, integrates the functional areas I/O, Motion and Safety and makes control and communication concepts possible that were previously unachievable. Traditional fieldbus and Industrial Ethernet systems such as Modbus, PROFIBUS or PROFINET and the corresponding peripherals are easy to integrate via gateways. EtherCAT is characterised by full Ethernet compatibility, maximum utilisation of the Ethernet bandwidth, outstanding real-time characteristics, flexible topology, almost unrestricted network expansion and openness, and simple handling.

TwinCAT – world-class automation in the solar industry

TwinCAT from Beckhoff is open and scalable automation software designed on the basis of Windows operating systems, forming the heart of the PC-based controller. It replaces conventional PLCs and motion controllers and transforms almost any compatible PC into a real-time controller with multi-PLC system, NC axis control, programming environment and control station. Connectivity to all popular fieldbuses and PC interfaces is supported. Various software function blocks and libraries facilitate simplified engineering efforts. TwinCAT offers optimum integration options for the linking of the control systems via open standards such as OPC, OCX and DLL.

With the integration into Microsoft Visual Studio®, TwinCAT 3 offers a greater degree of freedom in programming: in addition to the object-oriented extensions of IEC 61131-3, C and C++ are now also available as programming languages for real-time applications. Thanks to the multi-core capability of TwinCAT 3, there are virtually no limits to the further extension of automation functions using PC Control. The TwinCAT Solar Position Algorithm software library e.g. enables high-precision determination of current sun angles and the times for sunrise, solar noon and sunset.

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