Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

Development environment for programmable logic controller-based applications

HERACLES helps suppliers and producers of automated systems to save time (and thus cut costs) from the design phase onwards. HERACLES shortens the engineering process and reduces the number of errors. The path from the design stage to the final implementation of the automated system becomes simpler, faster, more predictable and economical.

HERACLES addresses the provision of a software tool environment for the high-level modelling of automated systems, providing the knowledge-based support tools to give practical assistance in the system engineering activity, down to maintenance and support at application level. The design of an automated system is a complex engineering activity, which aims at producing the functional specifications, input/output (I/O) list, electrical schematics, etc for a whole automated system. This activity, in the past, did only very superficially benefit from computer aided design (CAD) tools, which generally do not capture the function of components. Engineering is the starting-point for the production of low-level programmable logic controllers (PLC) software. Without formal methods at the engineering level there is no uniformity at the code level: this hampers maintenance diagnosis and support at runtime of the automated system HERACLES' primary objective was to increase the productivity of the automation engineer by: computerising routine functions, allowing him to concentrate on high-level design; providing the tools to help the engineer create, modify and analyse outputs in a fraction of the time taken with conventional approaches; reducing redundancy and inconsistency of the information produced during the whole development process; re-using knowledge from previously produced automated systems (users' experience in developing automated handling plants shows that 80 % of the basic components and devices could be re-used in a new plant); defining tools for those design sub-processes which were not yet tool assisted.


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