ABB is launching the 'extreme conditions' AC500-XC PLC that is designed to withstand high and low temperatures, high humidity, low air pressure, salt mist, hazardous gases, and shock vibration. This can reduce system costs by eliminating the need for sophisticated protective enclosures with special seals, heating/cooling, shock absorbers and EMC protection.
The embedded protection features ensure that control systems based on the AC500-XC PLC function reliably even when operating in hostile environments. Such conditions can be found in many common automation applications including mines, tunnels, vessels, cranes, water and wastewater plants, offshore platforms, wind turbines, solar trackers, and weather and navigation stations.
Designed as a new version of the modular AC500 PLC, the AC500-XC PLC can be assembled from XC (eXtreme Conditions) versions of almost all of the modules in the extensive AC500 range, providing users with exceptional versatility and scalability for their control systems.
AC500-XC PLCs also run exactly the same program code as AC500 PLCs, so users can migrate to more robust hardware easily; it also simplifies development of large systems that require control systems for both standard and extreme conditions. This inter-range compatibility also extends to the AC500-S-XC safety PLC for extreme conditions. The mechanical dimensions and electrical specifications of connections are also the same as the standard AC500, so existing panel layouts and wiring harnesses or designs can be reused.
Embedded environmental protection opens up extensive applications potential for the ABB AC500-XC. Extended temperature operation enables the PLCs to operate in temperatures from -30 to +70degC, with reliable system start-ups in temperatures as low as -40degC. With few limitations, the AC500-XC operates at up to 70degC. Circuit boards are coated to protect against high humidity levels, and the PLC has enhanced immunity against salt mist and atmospheres with corrosive gases such as H2S, SO2, CL2 and NO2. High levels of vibration and shock can be tolerated, with accelerations up to 4 'g' from random vibrations up to 500Hz, or 2 'g' from sinusoidal vibration. The PLC is capable of operating at altitudes up to 4000m. It also offers extended EMC protection against voltage surges and fast transients, as well as electrostatic discharge.
The protection adds a modest margin to the cost of the PLC but, in return, it can greatly simplify control system design, often enabling ABB's AC500-XC PLCs to be installed directly in the operating environment without any special enclosures or environmental protection. The savings from this implementation approach can be very substantial. They include reduced design time, a smaller system bill-of-materials, reduced cabling, lower energy consumption from the elimination of the need for cooling or heating, and much reduced lifecycle maintenance, filters and repair costs.
ABB's Thomas Boenig comments: "ABB's extreme conditions PLC allows automation to be sited right where the control I/O is needed. The technology opens up new and more profitable design approaches for a very wide variety of automation users."
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