Monthly Archives: March 2021

PLCnext – An Intern’s Perspective

From |

Many of you may be familiar with our next gen PLC called PLCnext, but how easy is it to actually make the switch? Today, I would like to share with you from a fresh perspective – that of a Phoenix Contact intern who has been learning to use PLCnext Technology for a mere two months.

As someone who has taken a few programming-related modules in university, I thought I had at least heard of most of the programming languages. However, when I first started learning about PLCnext, I was introduced to IEC 61131-3.

Credits to Marvel Studios

IEC 61131-3 is the standard for dealing with programmable logic controllers (PLC). The software used to configure PLCnext controllers, called PLCnext Engineer, mainly uses 3 PLC programming languages:

  • Function Block Diagram (FBD)
  • Ladder (LD)
  • Structured Text (ST)

Once again, I had never worked with any of these languages before in my programming modules. FBD was relatively easy to pick up, as the default function blocks in PLCnext Engineer provided more than enough functionalities for my internship project. The FBD editor was also extremely user-friendly. It also had the capability to change variables on the fly using Debug Mode, which made troubleshooting a real breeze.

A very beautified picture of FBD code

And yet, FBD was not a language I was familiar with. If you have learnt a new language before, you may have experienced times when you cannot express yourself or cannot translate your thoughts from your native language to the new language you are learning. Thankfully, that is where the prowess of PLCnext Technology comes in.

To make things short and sweet, PLCnext Technology essentially allows the use of different languages for programming of PLC logic. Instead of using IEC 61131-3 languages for the main program logic, languages such as C, C++, C# and MATLAB Simulink can be mapped to the IEC 61131-3 code. This is possible through a Global Data Space (GDS) which maps input and output ports of IEC 61131-3 languages with that of the other languages being used.

What this essentially means is that many people who are familiar with different programming languages can work on the same project! PLCnext Technology bridges this gap between programming languages, making automation that much easier.

That being said, some (extremely) basic knowledge of at least one of the IEC 61131-3 languages are required. However, this was easily picked up after I was loaned the AXC F 2152 Starter Kit to practice.

The AXC F 2152 Starter Kit

Two months into my internship, and I have already learnt enough to build a small-scale prototype of my final project. While I will not be delving into the details here, the important part is that majority of the logic is coded in C++, instead of IEC 61131-3 languages.

“This isn’t even my final form!”

If an intern can whip up something like this from scratch in two months, I am sure you can too!

PTV Lateral Push-in Technology

From |

Push-in Terminal blocks in vertical orientation?

Yes, I am sure most of us are aware of the easy-installation technology, called Push-in Technology. If you have never heard of it, please allow me to explain it with Phoenix Contact’s history.

Phoenix Contact was the first to develop modular terminal blocks. It actually started with screw terminal blocks and then gradually innovated with newer technologies.

Moving on from screw terminal blocks, we came up with spring-cage terminal blocks. Using the screwdriver, the spring-cage would be opened, allowing the user to install the conductor.

Compact ST spring-cage connection

And finally, we have Push-in technology which does not require you to get any tools to install rigid or ferrule fitted conductors. Yes, all you have to do is just slot the conductor into the hole and push it in, Voilà!

Again, with Phoenix Contact’s continuous innovation, we did not stop here. We now have lateral Push-in technology!

Instead of inserting the conductor from the top, now you can push it in from the side.

So, how does it benefit us more?

  • Best Ergonomics

Just like PT terminal blocks, you can connect rigid or ferrule fitted conductors directly without using any tools. Regardless of the listed conductor size you use, the contact spring ensures maximum contact and conductor pull-out forces with a vibration-resistant, gas-tight connection.

PTV, in fact, is best when it comes to a Fuse terminal block with push-in technology. If you are a user of this, you might have already faced this little situation. When you try to disconnect the fuse holder, the conductor might block you from flipping it over fully. With lateral Push-in technology, you have full freedom of flipping the fuse holder.

  • Best System compatibility

PTV, as a part of CLIPLINE complete, allows you to use the same set of accessories as other CLIPLINE complete terminal blocks with different connection technologies. The list of accessories for disconnect terminal blocks is:

  1. fuse plugs
  2. component connectors
  3. feed-through connectors, and
  4. isolating plugs

This versatility enables you to customize your switching devices.

  • Best Clarity

The conductors entering from the side will not bend and cover your markings on the terminal block. This also enables easier identification of conductor markings and connection.

Today, you can find the Push-in technology in various terminal block types from normal feed-through terminal blocks to even test disconnect terminal blocks. With our new lateral Push-in technology, we can offer you an even wider range of terminal blocks!