congatec presents the conga-ARkit, a reference platform for automation

The starter kit consists of both hardware and software as a design basis for PLC manufacturers

Deggendorf, February 12th, 2009   * * *   congatec AG presents the conga-ARkit, a complete solution package for the implementation of PLC functions.

This comprehensive package was developed in conjunction with 3S-Smart Software Solutions GmbH, Real-Time Systems GmbH and OSCAT (‘Open Source Community for Automation Technology’). It addresses PLC manufacturers and companies that intend to integrate PLC functionality in their applications.

The conga-QA, a Qseven Computer-On-Module with the Intel® Atom™ Processor Z530, was chosen as the hardware basis. Due to its compact dimensions of just 7x7cm², this module can be easily integrated via top-hat rail housing. Additionally, it provides capable, future-oriented interfaces and can simultaneously run two separate operating systems thanks to hyper-threading and virtualization support. This makes the well-priced conga-QA the ideal platform for the majority of control and visualization tasks.

The kit includes a suitable evaluation carrier board to facilitate the use of the Qseven module. This provides access to all Qseven interfaces through standard connectors. Manufacturer-specific I/O components can then be flexibly configured and controlled via Ethernet/Ethercat or another suitable field bus.

The software package, which has been compiled on an entirely application-oriented basis, comes pre-installed on a bootable USB stick. This device uses hypervisor software to boot a Microsoft Windows XP operating system and a real-time capable OSADL Linux. The system resources of the Qseven module are assigned exclusively to each of the operating systems. These two subsystems communicate with each other via a virtual Ethernet port.

On the real-time side of things (the OSADL Linux system), a CoDeSys SP is operated as the PLC runtime system. The complete and real-time capable virtualization means that the PLC handler is entirely independent of the Windows system. Even a Windows ‘Blue Screen of Death’ or a fatal application error cannot affect the reliability of the control.

On the other side of things (the Windows system that is not real-time capable), the installation comprises the IEC 61131-3 programming system CoDeSys and the Open Source OSCAT Library (Open Source Community for Automation Technology, This comprehensive software tool allows control and visualization to be configured for automation tasks. The CoDeSys OPC server included in the package provides access to the real-time process data via corresponding OPC clients. Furthermore, the integrated visualization editor makes it easy to create visualization screens, even within the programming system.

The conga-ARkit contains a complete hardware infrastructure based on the Intel Atom Processor and a fully installed software environment, including the runtime environment. A compact CPU module measuring only 7x7cm² can handle visualization as well as the control tasks. It is hard to imagine a more compact and more powerful automation platform.