Jump to content



Photo
- - - - -

B & R Automation - What's the big secret?

  • Please log in to reply
15 replies to this topic

#1 BITS N BYTES

BITS N BYTES

    Expert

  • MrPLC Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 549 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Miami Beach FL
  • Country:United States
    United States

Posted 09 October 2006 - 08:42 PM

Have been trying to get some end user feedback on this product at PLCTALK.COM but with no results!
Thought I would try here!
It would seem that this company has a very diverse and highly integrated product line encompassing motion, logic and HMI software under a single user program [Automation Studio].
Seeing their phenomal growth must be doing something right.
I cannot seem to find any relevant user forum or even responses from end users!

I am specifically interested in the X20 processor running the Ethernet Powerlink protocol.

SO WHAT'S THE BIG SECRET?
DOES THIS STUFF WORK?
PROS/CONS?

Come on, there has to be someone using this, or is it just another VIRTUAL company?

:no:

Edited by BITS N BYTES, 10 October 2006 - 05:07 AM.


#2 JesperMP

JesperMP

    Guru

  • MrPLC Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 784 posts
  • Location:Copenhagen
  • Country:Denmark
    Denmark

Posted 10 October 2006 - 04:47 AM

Hello "BITS".

Where do you see the "phenomonal growth" ?
B&R is one of the small automation players.
It is possible that they do have high growth rates, but you should temper this information with that their initial market share is very small.

Actually, my company does use some B&R stuff, but we are switching away from it.
This is more due to generally streamlining our technological platform than with any dissaftisfaction with B&R.
Apart from products from our own company that uses B&R, I have never seen a B&R PLC out in real life.

#3 BITS N BYTES

BITS N BYTES

    Expert

  • MrPLC Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 549 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Miami Beach FL
  • Country:United States
    United States

Posted 10 October 2006 - 05:17 AM

Hello "BITS".

Where do you see the "phenomonal growth" ?
B&R is one of the small automation players.
It is possible that they do have high growth rates, but you should temper this information with that their initial market share is very small.



Hi Jesper, I would say that a small company that has grown from 60 to 200 Million Euro from 1994-2006, in the very competetive Automation market must be doing something good.
You will never see such growth with the big players [AB, Siemens etc.].

You say you have used some of their products.
Which ones?
What made you select them in the first place even though you no longer plan to use them?
What were your experiences with it?

Questions, Questions, Questions --- BUT nor answers.

THANKS

:no:

#4 JesperMP

JesperMP

    Guru

  • MrPLC Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 784 posts
  • Location:Copenhagen
  • Country:Denmark
    Denmark

Posted 10 October 2006 - 06:23 AM

I have used the 2003 type PLC.
Actually, the decision to use it was done by another division in our company. They did so without consulting us (which made us a little upset).
The product is in the meantime being transferred to us, and we will probably go away from the B&R PLC in order to standardize on one platform.

My opinion about B&R is that it seems quite OK.
The capacity of the CPU is on the low side, but maybe that is because it is not the top model at B&R.
Programming is all IEC1131-3 which may be seens as a plus.
But we never really did work with it in depth.

edit:
I think that it is a handicap that it cannot be a full Profibus DP Master.
If you can accept that it uses CAN as field bus, then it is not a problem. We use Profibus more and more.

Edited by JesperMP, 10 October 2006 - 06:27 AM.


#5 dellae

dellae

    Sparky

  • MrPLC Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 22 posts
  • Location:Papatoetoe
  • Country:New Zealand
    New Zealand

Posted 13 January 2007 - 04:27 AM

I have started to use this system.
I have the PLC embeded in the HMI and X20 I/O on Ethernet (Powerlink).
Good quality product, competitive pricing and the local support is good.
Being IEC 61131-6 + C means you can reuse a lot of code from other systems with only minor modifications.
I have used every major system on the market and some odd balls and this is way better than most.
It is way way better than Siemens & Rockwell (Programming environment) although they don't have the range of systems. However they have the main ones well covered.
Their processors are much faster than Control-Logix.
Networks are; Ethernet, DeviceNet, Profibus, CAN, X2X (their extendable remote backplane, like ControlNet but only better)
They also have a SCADA system (runs on Linux).

#6 beegee

beegee

    The Garbage Man

  • MrPLC Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 318 posts
  • Interests:too many
  • Country:Belgium
    Belgium

Posted 11 April 2007 - 06:15 AM

The major reason of their growth was the price-possibilities comparison. They are PC based systems with possibilities like web servers, all programming languages, high end visualisations... and they heve had it for some time now.

We dropped the brand out of our shortlist due to the compatibility problems (even on short term). Since their products are PC based they evolve very fast, with lots of possibilities but they can't keep up with development and stay compatible. Since we are a machine builder we want reliable systems with a reasonable (commercial) life cycle. If you have a program written for a machine you will be programming again for the next one.... :-2

If it is a one off project, it can be a good solution (but I would prefer Beckhoff if you want a PC-technology based system)

#7 chaca

chaca

    Sparky

  • MrPLC Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 17 posts
  • Country:Canada
    Canada

Posted 07 August 2007 - 01:25 PM

Guys, the only reason why B&R is not known much to public is because B&R doesn't sell PLC's/HMI's on their own, they do complete turnkey projects. It is the largest privately owned Automation Company in the world. The reason why no one talks about it, especially integrators is essentially because of the way they do business. There products are completely catered to the end users' needs and thats why you don't hear many people talk about it.

#8 jose_granero

jose_granero

    Hi, I am New!

  • MrPLC Member
  • Pip
  • 1 posts

Posted 18 January 2009 - 04:54 PM

Have been trying to get some end user feedback on this product at PLCTALK.COM but with no results!
Thought I would try here!
It would seem that this company has a very diverse and highly integrated product line encompassing motion, logic and HMI software under a single user program [Automation Studio].
Seeing their phenomal growth must be doing something right.
I cannot seem to find any relevant user forum or even responses from end users!

I am specifically interested in the X20 processor running the Ethernet Powerlink protocol.

SO WHAT'S THE BIG SECRET?
DOES THIS STUFF WORK?
PROS/CONS?

Come on, there has to be someone using this, or is it just another VIRTUAL company?
Hi,
I'm user of the B&R X20 System and I advice you to use it, regarding to communications with ethernet powerlink the system is transparent, works very well and allows you to get communication rates very high between the CPU's and their remote stations.
:clap:


You're very wrong, B&R is the third biggest PLC provider in Europe behind Siemens and Rockwell.

#9 JesperMP

JesperMP

    Guru

  • MrPLC Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 784 posts
  • Location:Copenhagen
  • Country:Denmark
    Denmark

Posted 19 January 2009 - 04:46 AM

You're very wrong, B&R is the third biggest PLC provider in Europe behind Siemens and Rockwell.

Hmm..
As far as I know, B&R's world market share is somewhere between 1-2 %. In Europe I expect it to be maybe 3-4%.
Several PLCs come in between Siemens and AB, and B&R. Apart from the japanese, there is also Grp. Schneider.
I am always interested in hard information about market shares, so if you have something to share I would like to know.


Btw. the last post was from 2007.

#10 herve.nawrocki

herve.nawrocki

    Hi, I am New!

  • MrPLC Member
  • Pip
  • 1 posts
  • Location:DIJON
  • Country:France
    France

Posted 19 January 2009 - 07:57 AM

We changed 2 years ago the hardware PLC by software PLC on all our machines.
For sure, before to replace these hardware PLC, we started a search which product could be more flexible and efficient.
2 suppliers were at the end of our search : B&R and Beckhoff.
Then, we started to make some small test and it was really easy to know which was more flexible .. with Beckhoff, just few seconde to donwload the trial version and the PLC was running on our laptop. With B&R, it was little bit more difficult. Twincat from Beckhoff is really efficient PLC ! After 2 years (around 100 machines), we never get trouble at all on the PLC system. I was really afraid when we started to change our hardware PLC to software PLC but now, for nothing, I will never change it !
This Twincat PLC could be installed on their own Beckhoff computer, but also on another brand computer (B&R is different !).
The communication from an application to the PLC is really easy (using Beckhoff activeX ADSOCX and all the function are including inside and it is totally free of cost). For sure, I tested OPC communication and it works perfectly but I prefer activeX process.
For telemaintenance, we keep the Twincat programming software on the machine (and it is free of cost), then we can make diagnostic and update without any problem.
Well, I don't know now what B&R made 2 years ago, maybe they changed a their sale strategy and their product but before, no chance comparing to Beckhoff system !

#11 Technology provider

Technology provider

    Hi, I am New!

  • MrPLC Member
  • Pip
  • 2 posts
  • Country:Italy
    Italy

Posted 12 July 2011 - 07:27 AM

=== Who is using B&R?

You can find some OEMs worldwide references directly on B&R homepage
My link

or on B&R You Tube channel
My link

B&R is well accepted and utilized not only from OEMs but also from Global End Users in their plants, this is an example of Nestlè (the biggest Food Company in the world) that specify B&R as Packaging Strategy Partner:
My link



=== B&R Company growth

In 2006 B&R turnover was a bit more than 200 Million Euro as correctly reported, in 2010 was 360 Million Euro (+80% in 4 years with also 2009 global crisis).
B&R is constantly gaining market shares in Automation, this can only happen if you are able to provide outstanding technology to the market.

#12 CapinWinky

CapinWinky

    Sparky

  • MrPLC Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 12 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Virginia
  • Country:United States
    United States

Posted 05 August 2011 - 01:55 PM

I use B&R on a daily basis, and you just can't beat it on high complexity applications. Simpler applications, I like using Trio

I think that it is a handicap that it cannot be a full Profibus DP Master.
If you can accept that it uses CAN as field bus, then it is not a problem. We use Profibus more and more.




I think you can be a Profibus master now, but the field buses of choice are Ethernet Powerlink and their own X2X.

Since their products are PC based they evolve very fast, with lots of possibilities but they can't keep up with development and stay compatible.


Their product cycles are decades long. It's actually kind of annoying because some of my customers keep ordering the older stuff for new systems and expecting it to magically perform better than it did 5 or 8 years ago. I guess you could say they are PC based, since they run a modified version of what is basically VxWorks (I don't know what you would consider not PC based, all PLCs have a processor and operating system) and they do come out with product innovations regularly.

If it is a one off project, it can be a good solution


I would disagree. If you're using B&R instead of something more basic, like Trio or Galil, then the project must be complicated enough to require a decent amount of engineering effort and you either need to be charging by the hour for engineering time or banking on repeat systems. What kind of business are you running?

As far as market share, they are definitely a major player in Europe and China (unlike the rest of Asia, the Chinese don't like buying Japanese products, they hold long grudges). The number of high tech and high profile customers they have speaks volumes about their capability and quality. K&M, BMW, and Nestle didn't just pick at random, you can bet they researched. They are certainly growing in the US. AB can't beat them on quality and certainly can't come close to quoting against them; In my opinion, AB is living on name recognition right now; I'm surprised Siemens didn't roll over them .

If I could, I'd have all my customers use B&R for everything and do the programming in ANSI C. Unfortunately, I normally have to throw in some ladder to appease service techs that shouldn't be mucking about in the program anyway and I have to settle on Trio or Galil for budget customers.
-----------------------------------------------
I tell people I'm a smoke jumper. The job's the same really, I jump out of planes and put out fires.

#13 CapinWinky

CapinWinky

    Sparky

  • MrPLC Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 12 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Virginia
  • Country:United States
    United States

Posted 05 August 2011 - 02:10 PM

Also, I've been to the B&R plant in Eggelsburg years ago and all their stuff was lovingly hand assembled by gorgeous 20-something year old Austrian girls in white Birkenstocks (they're standard ESD footwear back then). Something about that just makes me want to sell their stuff.

Cedar Rapids was not nearly as impressive.
-----------------------------------------------
I tell people I'm a smoke jumper. The job's the same really, I jump out of planes and put out fires.

#14 Beerad

Beerad

    Newbie

  • MrPLC Member
  • PipPip
  • 9 posts
  • Country:United States
    United States

Posted 12 April 2012 - 07:11 AM

Day and night difference from AB to B&R, the Automation Studio environment makes it really easy to implement complex processes, especially motion. I like that they support the use of open languages like PLCopen and the IEC standard languages, and the help files are very detailed and useful. Lots of libraries already done the work for you, I believe their winder control and hydraulic control (AsHydCon) are some of the best in the business. PID control is also very easy to implement. Their servo drives are a hell of a lot easier to use then many of the conventional drives out there.

The build on their physical products is very high quality, representative of the german engineering philosophy (I know, B&R is Austria, but come on, I'm American so what's the difference right? lol) The chassis on their computers is the best I've ever seen. They actually in-circuit test every single component on all of their products, and I've seen the Egglesburg facility - hotties in white birkenstocks and all - and that place is absolutely amazing. Its like a mix between an Apple store and one of those Japanese gardens that monks spend their lives perfecting.

If you look at the exponential-looking growth curve over the past five years, they're obviously doing something right....

#15 PMCR

PMCR

    Expert

  • MrPLC Admin
  • 605 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Pennsylvania
  • Country:United States
    United States

Posted 31 August 2012 - 06:02 PM

Great discussion!

I have seen a distributor come and go with B&R. The commends from the engineers centered aound the ease of use, or lack there of.

I have not used the product, but from the users that I have seen who have used it, the sentiment is 'once you have it working, it works well', but 'good luck getting there'.

#16 Bill PLC

Bill PLC

    Hi, I am New!

  • MrPLC Member
  • Pip
  • 1 posts
  • Country:United States
    United States

Posted 10 November 2012 - 11:07 AM

My company was looking for a platform solution that could handle a wide range of tasks (and size/complexity of machines), with a low hardware cost (Allen Bradley and Siemens were immediately disqualified), powerful, ease of use, etc. All of the typical requirements. We had positive experience with Beckhoff in the past (although in my personal opinion, the Beckhoff environment provides almost too much information in the hardware configuration side - so much so that it can be daunting to new users - the two different applications make the environment seem disjointed), but we did experience some issues with Beckhoff product availability (lead times) and especially local support in the U.S. in the Massachusetts area. The B&R platform appeared to offer the same benefits of Beckhoff with a bit better support in the US. We had struggled with Mitsubishi for about 2 years and, although the hardware is impressive, the software environment is disjointed and overly complex (up to 4 applications at once must be open to program a job), and they were very slow to make necessary improvements (even the US-based Mitsubishi team agreed that Japan was not that responsive and that in the Japanese culture, software ease of use has a much lower priority than in the US). The platform is decidedly old-school - you have to do a lot of manual accounting of memory addresses - something I look at as 1980s technology. As a result, we dumped the Mitsubishi platform.

We've been learning and starting to use the B&R platform for the last 6 or 7 months. We attended training classes in Atlanta, which were pretty well done. They have a lot of formal training documentation which is quite nice. We've completed a few smaller automation jobs and encountered no negative issues, and we're now in the process of designing some full-scale machinery. I'll certainly comment on how these projects turn out in a few months.

My opinions so far:
1) Automation Studio is a single application (not CoDeSys based - some would say a disadvantage, but B&R advertises this as an advantage because they control all of the code) and the only thing you need to code and debug your application. The only exception is the safety PLC editor, which was written by a third party, but it's fairly well integrated into the environment (still a separate application). Since we've started using the latest version of Automation Studio about 6 or 7 months ago, they've come out with 5 service packs, so for sure the support and attention to issues is really active. Still, the environment has some basic issues with window handling and simple things like occasional problems with cut & paste and find that, in my opinion, have existed for too long. The environment is very Visual Studio-like, so if you're familiar with that environment, you'll like it (although it's not as polished). Structured text is clearly their favorite language. The SFC editor and functionality is decent, but has some annoyances. The ladder editor pretty much sucks, so if you prefer ladder, I'd highly recommend that you check this out. Automation Studio version 4 (major version upgrade) is due out sometime soon and may address some of this. No way of knowing until it launches.

2) Hardware configuration is certainly a bit more manual than the Beckhoff system. Beckhoff software can automatically search the entire EtherCAT network and pull in all of the devices. The B&R system requires you to manually insert each of the POWERLINK (their real time Ethernet network) nodes, and only then can it automatically find all of the I/O modules. Apparently this was one of the major focuses of Automation Studio 4 which will supposedly do a lot to address the configuration issue (I've seen early previews and it does look a lot nicer). Still, hardware config is a one-time thing, and certainly not the bulk of the work in any project. It's certainly not that inconvenient, once you know the limitations and steps required to build the hardware tree.

3) The debugging environment is very responsive and quick. Debugging structured text in Beckhoff is superior in that it shows a split screen when viewing code, with all of the current variable values displayed right next to them. In Automation Studio, you have to hover over the variable or (more typically) open a watch window and manually add the variables you care to look at (the selection of variables is saved from one debug session to the next). Each has it's pluses and minuses - I wish Automation Studio did both.

4) The environment in general is MDI or tabbed based. I typically use the tabs. My complaint with this environment (and most others are similar in some way), is that the tabbed and/or MDI environments are very restrictive when it comes to PLC programming - you need to see a lot of code simultaneously. If you have two screens, it's difficult to make effective use of them. I'd rather each editor window was a separate floating window that could be placed anywhere on the desktop. Another thing that most environments lack is basically remembering the size and position, etc. of all windows, so that you can spend a lot less time moving and resizing things each time you open them. My suggestion was the ability to save editing "scenarios" - i.e. save my current window layout exactly as it is on screen now and later restore it. I'll get off my soapbox, but if you think how much non-value-added time you spend just manipulating windows....

5) The built-in visualization editor is decent and powerful, but like any property-based system, can be complex to understand at first pass, and tedious once you really know what you want to do. Maybe once you build yourself a decent starting template it would be easier. For larger projects we've decided to continue to use Visual Studio .NET and either OPC, or preferably the more optimized and very powerful PVI interface to the PLC. This approach continues to prove itself from a power, cost, and flexibility standpoint. The PVI interface, to me, is certainly one of the significant benefits of the B&R system, and few other platforms (to my knowledge) offer this sort of thing. Of course, it's not open like OPC, but if you've standardized on B&R hardware, why not optimize the HMI to PC communications.

6) For communication between B&R PLCs over standard ethernet, there is a library that is more difficult to configure than it should be, but works well once configured. It's certainly not like allen-bradley publish and subscribe - but I wish it was. Of course, you can also use MODBUS TCP (for which the master is built in and can be simply configured to talk to MODBUS slaves), or one of the other supported industry standard networks (Profibus/NET, EtherCAT, etc... they support most everything with an interface module).

7) The B&R POWERLINK real time ethernet interface (very similar to EtherCAT from a standpoint of how it is connected), seems to work just fine. Of course, the only problem is, there are very few 3rd party devices that have this protocol built in. Not a huge issue if you use all B&R hardware, but if you want to talk to an EtherCAT device (for example), you need an add-on interface card. POWERLINK is an open standard. Not sure why others have not adopted it yet - maybe because they figure it's too new and/or they already support enough networks. Certainly there is a critical mass point at which all 3rd party vendors jump on board - we haven't reached that yet with POWERLINK.

8) The selection of I/O modules (slice and IP65 blocks) is quite extensive (maybe not so extensive as Beckhoff), but they seem to have everything I need so far.

9) The large variety of PLCs (some with and some without an integrated HMI screen) is very extensive and seems to fit the bill from the very small system (a few air cylinders) to the very large (99+ servo axes). With the wide variety of things my company needs to do (lab systems to production OEM machines), this was quite attractive.

10) The selection of servo drives, stepper drives, and VFDs seems more than adequate to fit most needs. Be warned that lead times on motors (the only thing they don't build in-house) can be longer than desired (6-8 weeks). They have 3 levels of servo drives, ACOPOSmicro, ACOPOS, and ACOPOSmulti. The first two are stand-alone, and the third is rack-based with shared power supply. Features and capabilities go up. The micro drives are decent size (one and 2-axis are the same size). The second two are much more capable, but also physically quite large (you'll need a 12" deep enclosure). Network-based safety is built in to the ACOPOSmulti (not quite sure about the ACOPOS standard drive). The micro, for sure, only has enable lines and you need to use safety outputs to achieve STO. Not a show-stopper, but I wish network based safety was consistent across the entire line.

11) Motion is based PLC Open with supplementary function blocks that extend the capability to exploit specific B&R features. Built in servo tuning and commissioning is not quite as polished as Beckhoff, but you can display traces of motor velocity, position, following error, etc. Basically everything you need. I have not put this through it's paces much yet, so my opinion may change.

12) There are over 100 function block libraries provided with the software. Extensive capabilities, but sometimes you have to contact B&R support to ask if a function of a certain type exists because it's difficult to know with so many options. In some cases B&R has provided additional libraries that are not part of the official set, with the warning that they are not officially supported and use at your own risk - bla, bla. Nonetheless, they've worked just fine. There isn't too much 3rd party support out there for B&R yet, as you may have noticed if you've done any searching. You can create your own custom libraries of function blocks, but there is an acknowledged problem (to be fixed in the next version) with debugging function block instances - it's buggy if not impossible.

13) The B&R help system is very extensive, updated with almost every release (of course the download is huge and install takes a while). The help is really quite thorough and gives almost every detail that you need, as well as a large number of examples and full example code projects. It's some of the most well-written help that I've seen. The help search engine, however, pretty much sucks, because it returns way too many matches for any typical search. One thing I really like is that virtually EVERY error code returned by any library or device (e.g. servo errors) is in the documentation. Simply type the error number in search and up pops the documentation behind it (some helpful, some so-so, but at least it's there). They also provide files containing text descriptions of servo errors (at least in English and German, not sure about others) that can be used by your code for display to the operator. Not so (as far as I can tell) for many of the other libraries, unfortunately, so you're on your own to explain those to the operator.

I could obviously go on forever! I'm sure I'll have more accurate opinions once we get through these larger projects. My general impression is that the system is very powerful, very capable, relatively easy to program and debug, but there are several areas that need improvement, especially related to the code editor and window management. All in all, so far so good - nobody seems to knock it out of the park in every area. The good news is that B&R seems to be aggressively making improvements. The B&R platform is certainly worth serious consideration. Be aware, however, if you're an Allen Bradley programmer, this type of system and approach to programming will feel VERY foreign. I'll freely admit that the Allen Bradley control logix platform and programming software is second to none. But if you look at the range of hardware and unique way that a modular system like B&R (and Beckhoff) can solve automation projects, I think you'll be impressed.
  • Chris Elston likes this


Download » Other PLCs

    No categories found.

Store » Other PLCs

    No categories found.

Articles » Other PLCs

    No categories found.


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users