Recent Standards and IDE's for PLC's

As part of a plant upgrade I have been looking at the subject of cost of software licensing and methods transferral with respect to our PLC's and
Distributed Embedded Control systems. Not having seen a thread on this topic here I thought I would throw open a thread to see what others thought of the topic.
The plant I am working with have various groups who implement plant processes within their specialisation (a wide variety of technologies here). My group is removing an old Allen Bradley (PLC5) system and will only need a small fraction of its functionality to remain. As part of this I started to look into how we could integrate the development of PLC and Embedded Controller applications under one system.
We already have one group who use the Eclipse IDE to programme embedded PC's that perform some data collection tasks and monitoring some of the PLC's operations. The Eclipse IDE has a range of plug-in's that assist with common organisation of tasks for these systems, and with the version control, change tracking and test management. Having seen the possibilities in that facility I considered that it would be good to incorporate the development of PLC software into that environment also.
Some research on-line found that the IEC61131 standard didn't go quite far enough with getting all PLC's at the level of being programmable from the same tool. The IEC61499 standard has been created to address the issues surrounding Compliance, compatibility and interoperability and there are tools that plug into Eclipse that seem to be addressing this aspect.
So, my questions are:- Is anyone out there using Eclipse and the IEC61499 plug-in's to programme PLC's; and what were the good and bad points about that.
I know that many sites have their preferences for a PLC family but sometimes the one family fits all approach isn't appropriate. We will always have that "special" embedded controller in the mix that can do the control and data acquisition more dependably than could be achieved with a general purpose PLC (ie: bespoke to the task). Hence the interest in how we improve the overall management of software on our site despite having different PLC families programmed by different groups and other odd-ball embedded systems. As some of our application areas are Safety Critical we need the controlled approach to software development for these items and would like to spread the best practices throughout the rest of the site groups. The site is amenable to using Open Source software products and would likely contribute to the packages it uses and supports. PLC families on site at present include Allen Bradley, Schneider, Seimens, Mitsubishi, Omron and maybe a few others.
Useful comments please.
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Paul E. Bennett...............<email://Paul snipped-for-privacy@topmail.co.uk>
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I need some clarification. Are there "plugins" that allow Eclipse to program the different PLCs? Does eclipse simply use the PLC IDE and provide a consistent view? Obviously I know nothing about this and I have not seen it mentioned over at the www.plcs.net forum.
I do know that each PLC brand and type would need to have its own compiler and therefore its own "plugin" or library. The protocols between the Eclipse and each different brand of PLC would be different too. I don't see how this can work.
It is cheaper to buy the PLC software than to write your own. Writing PLC software is not easy. There was an attempt to write an open source PLC for linux at www.control.com. I think the project may have moved over to source forge. However, this was for x86 type of PCs.
I would inquire at www.plcs.net
BTW, the EBA link didn't work.
Peter Nachtwey
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pnachtwey wrote:

Eclipse, as far as I understood what I have read so far provides an IEC61499 "Function Block" style view of the PLC systems (one or many at a time). It allows the programming of a Distributed Processing System. It has access into the IEC61131 languages for PLC's and one would hope that this is a (near) seamless interface.

Probably because I haven't posted this there yet. I might do so.

Sometimes this may be the case but not when there is a high annual price-tag for per seat licensing.

Perhaps each PLC family group might need its own compiler but I am still researching this topic so that I can do a useful report at my client's. This article was just to throw open the question to a wider audience and I was hoping that there were a few out there who might have already tried with one or two PLC's.

Thanks, I'll see what they have done with that.

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wrote:

I found this: http://www.fordiac.org/5.0.html It looks like you can down load source code to make a IEC614999 controller that is programmable from Eclipse but I have found anything that allows one to program any PLC.
Peter Nachtwey
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