Automating Automation

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Automating Automation

“Hey, I bet we could automate that!”  Have controls people ever gathered ‘round the kegerator on a Friday afternoon without these words being spoken? Whether it be Christmas lights, banking, or lawn irrigation, there’s nothing we love more than automating things. Heck, we even automate automation.

Back in the ‘90s and early 2000’s, Avanceon’s AutoGen™ ruled the roost: from a single I/O list we generated PLC code, HMI tags, AutoCAD schematics, design documentation and test scripts. What a time to be alive! But eventually, companies like Rockwell and Schneider realized that there were ways to reduce the amount of manual grunt work involved in programming, and we saw the advent of Add-On Instructions and Object Templates.
Over a few short years, the ROI equation changed such that the benefits of a tool like AutoGen™ no longer supported the continual upkeep required stay current with all the possible versions and permutations of the target software platforms.
But there are still significant opportunities for making the tasks of automation more efficient. They just need to be low-overhead and targeted to a specific need. Here are a few examples of Avanceon’s in-house tools:

  • The SLC500 to ControlLogix conversion assist utility helps Rockwell’s conversion utility to convert SLC500 annotation to a format that can be imported by Logix Designer.

  • The automatic I/O list tool creates an Excel I/O list from a SLC500 or Logix5000 program.

  • The message manager generates XML files used to drive a plant floor message board.
    All these tools have several features in common.  They’re based on Microsoft Office, they use VBA programming, and they have a single purpose. This makes them portable, quick to create, and easy to maintain.
    Now, let me get back to plotting my fully-automated home brewery . . . .
    Designed: Freepik

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