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Triangle Research

What Are The Advantages of an Embedded Ethernet PLC?
What are the benefits of an embedded Ethernet PLC in contrast to a traditional packaged PLC?

Below is a table for a basic entry level micro PLC from a well known supplier and what they offer. Micro PLCs are sometimes classified as "bricks", meaning an all-in-one package that may or may not offer expansion. Typical entry level PLCs offer digital I/O, but rarely include analog I/O as part of the base package. Analog would be considered an option. Other options may include high speed counters and pulse outputs. Communications is usually via RS232 and RS485, with more units offering USB as an option for programming only. What is missing from most micro PLCs in this classification is a standard Ethernet port. In some cases it is standard, depending on the manufacturer, while in other cases it is an option. When we talk option, we are talking an additional module or in some cases a serial to Ethernet converter.

Next to the traditional offering is the FMD1616-10 from Triangle Research. Triangle Research provides a PLC with many features in a small footprint. It is even expandable through the connection of additional I/O boards and analog modules. When the base product offers comprehensive I/O in a small footprint and without the need of expansion, it is an excellent solutions for small applications. When you consider what the FMD series offers in such a small package, you would think you would be spending more than what you actually do.

 
 
Manufacturer Triangle Research Automation Direct
Model FMD Series DL-06
Part Number (PLC) FMD1616-10 D0-06DD2
Digital I/O 16 / 16 20 / 16
Analog I/O 8 in / 2 out Option via Expansion
High Speed Inputs 2 @ 10KHz 1 @ 7KHz
High Speed Outputs 4 PWM / 3 Stepper 1 Output - Step / Pulse
Ethernet Port Standard Option via Expansion
Ethernet Protocol ModBus TCP/IP ModBus TCP/IP
 
Option via Expansion.

What does that mean?

It means it will cost you more $$$.

Here is one example of additional costs from a popular PLC manufacturer.

 
+ Included + Included + Included
FMD1616-10 $295.00            
+ + +
D0-06DD2 - $251.00   F0-08ADH-2 - $144.00   F0-04DAH-2 - $140.00   H0-ECOM100 - $201.00
In order to obtain a similar configuration with comparable capabilities from this popular PLC vendor, you will need to spend 150% more ($295.00 vs. $736.00).
 
We are talking about purchasing an analog input module, analog output module and Ethernet module, in addition to the base unit, while all of this functionality is found in a single configuration of the FMD1616-10. If we look at this from an OEM's perspective, their carrying cost for inventory will be greatly reduced and simplified by fewer parts required in their bill of materials. Procurement will be simplified - 1 part number vs. 4 part numbers. This is one PLC vendor. Other's will likely be more expensive, therefore the spread between Triangle Research and others will be greater than 150%.
The FMD1616-10 is designed with ready connectivity to many peripheral device types. With the built-in Ethernet port and the iTRiLOGI client/server software, the FMD1616-10 is fully accessible for machine monitoring and OEM troubleshooting & reprogramming via the Internet. Built-in RS232 and RS485 connections and support of MODBUS protocols also makes the FMD1616-10 easy to integrate into mixed-brand PLC environments and networks.
With a wider operating temperature range (-20 to 85C) compared to packaged units (0 to 55C), the FMD1616-10 can address applications where environment is a factor. In order to obtain similar operating temperatures additional hardware would be required, thus adding further to the application cost.
Now imagine the same capabilities yet only smaller. This is the Nano-10. A micro PLC that measures 3.34"x 2.84"x 0.75”
  • Digital Inputs: 4 @ 24 VDC (NPN)
  • Digital Outputs: 4 ( 2 @ 5 amp relay, 2 @ 4 amp NPN (Peak Current)
  • Analog Inputs: 2 @ 0-5 VDC (12 Bit Resolution)
  • 2 x PWM 4 amp @24VDC (continuous frequencies, 0.1% duty cycle resolution)
  • Stepper Motor Control - 1 x stepper motor control pulse/direction (2 D/Os per stepper output)
  • High Speed Counter: 2 @ 10 KHz
  • 1 - RS485 port (2 wire)
  • 1 - Ethernet Port
  • Program Flash Memory: 8K words.
  • Dimensions: 3.34"x 2.84"x 0.75”
  • Operating Temperature: 0-70C
All of this for only $149.00. Why pay more for a traditional PLC, when the Nano-10 can do much more than the smallest micro PLCs and still costs less?
Don't be fooled by the size of the Nano-10. A product that provides a minimum of everything the FMD1616-10 offers, yet just as much power in terms of capabilities and is only smaller in size and count. How much would it cost you to develop a custom board and then manufacturer it? How much will it cost you in time and engineering? There is an already proven solution available? They say "time is money". So, to save a few dollars in manufacturing cost at the expense of lost sales opportunities due to a longer development is not always the wisest of decisions. There is a term for this - "penny wise, pound foolish". You scrimp to save a few pennies or dollars off the unit price, yet are delayed to market because of a longer development period. In this time of ever increasing competition can you truly afford to delay your product introduction when you have products available to you that can expedite your development process? To quote another cliche - "the early bird gets the worm". How many worms did you miss because you were delayed?
Do you want to know more about this economical yet powerful embedded Ethernet PLC? View the links at the top of this page for the specific controller you are interested in. We offer full documentation for each product and for iTrilogy ladder logic + Basic programming software. If you need assistance in determining the best fit for your application, feel free to contact us by phone or email.

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