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Industrial Ethernet Book Issue 103 / 7
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POWERLINK and CODESYS enable Industry 4.0 solutions

New technology tools have been developed that enable integration of POWERLINK Industrial Ethernet technology into the CODESYS IEC 61131 development environment. These innovations enable manufacturers to deploy control systems already working in CODESYS as a POWERLINK master.

THE CODESYS DEVELOPMENT ENVIRONMENT is often used by small and medium-sized manufacturers of control systems but the amount of programming work that has been required for POWERLINK integration, until now, has been prohibitive.

To combine the two technologies, a POWERLINK software module has been developed that enables use of this real-time protocol as a POWERLINK master, and creates user advantages including high performance, noise immunity and openness.


Integration of POWERLINK in CODESYS: The POWERLINK Configuration Editor from BE.Services is a plug-in for the CODESYS IDE. The CODESYS I/O driver is embedded in the runtime system and accesses the openPOWERLINK stack. Any device that can be written via XDD file, whether I/O module, sensor or actuator, and can be integrated into the POWERLINK network.

Solution overview

The technology includes a package of software and services that consists of four components: a user-friendly, visual configuration editor for POWERLINK in the form of a plug-in for the CODESYS development environment; an extension to the CODESYS runtime system in the form of an I/O driver for the openPOWERLINK stack; servicing and integration services as well as an e-learning course for POWERLINK technology.

Like the CODESYS IEC 61131 development environment, the POWERLINK plug-in is available free of charge from the CODESYS store. An I/O driver is available for a buyout price and includes support services and a license for the BE.educated e-learning platform. The first pilot customers are already using these products in development projects.

For the large number of component and control system suppliers already working with CODESYS, POWERLINK is a viable option. All of these manufacturers can now use their control systems as a POWERLINK master and benefit from its real-time performance in their automation solutions. The POWERLINK-CODESYS master will be tested at the upcoming POWERLINK plugfest, with a goal to certify POWERLINK products that will work together on both the slave and the master side.

The BE.services software package has been integrated to provide advanced functionality and includes the ability to configure master and slave parameters, as well as device-specific parameters. This information is obtained from the standardized device description files (XDD) provided by product manufacturers. In addition, there is support for advanced POWERLINK functions such as poll response chaining, cross-traffic and modular devices. Linux is generally used as the operating system, preferably with a real-time extension. But openPOWERLINK can also be used without an operating system, or with Windows.

Potential applications for the POWERLINK/ CODESYS combination range from the automation of individual machines, to production lines or entire factories. Mobile automation and process control systems are also possible areas of application.

The source code for the openPOWERLINK stack is available under the BSD license free of charge from SourceForge. The stack is entirely software based and completely scalable; it can be deployed on an FPGA or an x86 system, so users can choose their hardware platform. Moreover, the open-source approach provides investment protection. That′s becoming an persuasive argument, especially in this time of disruptive business models. The CODESYS implementation also offers key advantages for new designs as well.


The POWERLINK Configuration Editor can be used to configure master and slave devices. Applications can be written in the CODESYS IDE using any IEC 61131-3 language.

CODESYS implementation

Within CODESYS, fieldbus and industrial Ethernet communication modules are generally implemented using IEC 61131 languages, which are by nature slower than a native porting. The openPOWERLINK stack is modular and is available in C++. It can therefore be compiled directly on the hardware platform and benefits from FPGA hardware acceleration. In collaboration with the OPC Foundation, the EPSG has also developed a companion specification that enables data to be exchanged between OPC UA and POWERLINK. Users get the benefit of POWERLINK′s performance at the machine level, as well as the benefits of OPC UA TSN as the future standard for communication at the controller level and into the cloud.

Dr. Christoph Gugg, Technology Manager, Ethernet POWERLINK Standardization Group and Dimitri Philippe, CEO, BE.services.


Source: Industrial Ethernet Book Issue 103 / 7
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