Industrial Computer Hardware

PC-based Control

October 2014 Industrial Computer Hardware

At WindEnergy 2014, Beckhoff presented its integrated control solution for the wind industry. PC-based Control makes it possible to integrate operational management, pitch control, inverter control, condition monitoring and visualisation on a single CPU. Even integration into very fast wind farm controllers is quick and easy. PC and EtherCAT technology, as well as a modular, finely scalable range of standard software and hardware components, represents a globally accessible and proven system solution that enables efficient, economical utilisation of wind energy.

The new CX5100 embedded PC series is ideally suited as a central control platform for wind turbines. The compact and robust DIN rail-mountable embedded PCs with a directly attached I/O system can be equipped with one, two or four processor cores and offer high performance at a lower price point. The CX51xx can handle all control tasks for a wind turbine, including visualisation, safety, and condition monitoring. The Beckhoff automation software TwinCAT 3 supports multi-core technology, making it possible to implement computing-intensive tasks such as condition monitoring on a separate core. The high processing speed of the CX51xx also removes limitations when installing additional software.

EtherCAT terminals integrate condition monitoring in the control system

PC-based Control seamlessly integrates wind turbine condition monitoring in the existing automation system: the high-precision EL3632 EtherCAT terminals for vibration measurement or the EL3356-0010 for analysis of strain gauges can be easily added to the existing I/O system. The sampled raw data are available for higher-level software solutions. The user’s CMS software, which is integrated in the control system via an open interface such as OPC, facilitates analysis and initiation of downstream services. The integrated solution does away with the conventional 'black box'. In other words, complex coupling of hardware-based condition monitoring systems with the control system is no longer necessary. Users benefit not only from flexible expandability and significantly lower system costs, but also from improved diagnostics.

Future-proof wind farm networking with EtherCAT

Beckhoff sets new standards in wind farm networking with regard to ultra-fast response to voltage drops or changing requirements. Systems based on EtherCAT provide instantaneous values of current and voltage, recorded at the feed-in point, gathering up to 10 000 samples per second. In the event of a voltage drop, the set value specification for all wind turbines can be updated across the entire wind farm network in less than 1 ms. The measurement readings of all wind turbines and measurements at the feed-in point can be synchronised to a timeframe of less than 1 s, with corresponding control of current, voltage, and frequency, as well as providing optimum grid support.

Simplified system engineering with TwinCAT 3

TwinCAT, the integrated automation software from Beckhoff, offers users freedom of choice with regard to programming languages: In addition to object-oriented extensions to IEC 61131-3, C and C++ are also available for programming real-time applications. Support of MATLAB/Simulink allows common simulation tools used in the wind sector, for example for load calculation, to be conveniently integrated into the control system.

For more information contact Kenneth McPherson, Beckhoff Automation, +27 (0)11 795 2898,,


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