Sick have made available their Flexi Soft safety controllers, which offer migration capability, simple hardware selection, intuitive Logic Editor, rapid selection of functional blocks, and quick operation. Utilising minimum space, the modular hardware controller platform grows module-by-module with the application up to the maximum safety level. Flexi Soft can be integrated in all common networks including CANopen, PROFIBUS-DP, DeviceNet, EtherNet IP, Ethernet TCP/IP, Modbus TCP and ProfiNet I/O and upon connection, facilitates bi-directional communication between sensors, actuators, controllers and the management level. Flexi Soft is particularly suitable for small to medium machine sizes.
Flexi Soft allows the design of safe system solutions with singular simplicity and multiple flexibility as its scalability permits efficient adaptation to the demands of numerous safety applications.
The basis module of the safety controller is the CPU. Its configuration takes place via an intuitively designed interface in the configuration software. The necessary sensors and actuators can easily be “wired” and parameterised to the previously selected Flexi Soft module via drag & drop. The Logic Editor offers a number of different function blocks, which support the creation and transparent display of complex links. The entire configuration is stored on a separate system plug that is connected to the main module of the controller like a plug-in block terminal. As the power supply is also provided via this plug, device replacement can be achieved with minimum wiring effort, ensuring maximum possible system availability.
The Flexi Soft CPU, also optionally with two integrated Enhanced Function Interfaces (EFIs), is designed for the connection of 12 Flexi Soft modules so that the system limit is set at 96 inputs and 48 outputs. The granularity of Flexi Soft thus leads to customised safety solutions without the need for a large number of inputs and outputs. The modules are supplied with power and connected to the data bus of the controller by the integrated module bus that needs no backplain. Input and input/output expansions, relay modules, and gateways for integration in the standard controller, are available.
When employing intelligent safety sensors from Sick, such as S300 and S3000 safety laser scanners or the C4000 safety light curtain, users can opt for the main module with an EFI interface. In this case, the electro-sensitive protective equipment communicates directly with the controller – an input/output expansion module, to which the diverse actuators (such as drives, magnetic valves, control elements or signal indicators) can be connected, is only required for the output of switch-off signals.
In input terms, the expansion modules permit the integration of different safety sensors including safety switches and locks, safety position switches and hinge switches, non-contact safety switches and safety control devices, as well as electro-sensitive protective equipment such as laser scanners, camera systems, light curtains as well as single-beam and multibeam photoelectric switches. It is also possible to integrate safety sensors from other producers such as pressure mats or two-hand controls as well as emergency stop circuits.
Depending on the task, Flexi Soft can be operated with or without network integration. In the former case, all the modules are equipped with a bidirectional communication interface. This possibility of data transmission offers many supplementary benefits, including the comprehensive diagnosis of all control sensor functions and representation of the process. In addition to the typical process and diagnostic data that is made available to a higher-ranking controller by the Flexi Soft system via the corresponding fieldbus connection, the Flexi Soft Logic Editor allows commands from a controller to be processed.