4DIAC - A Framework for Distributed Industrial Automation and Control

Session Type: 
Standard [35 minutes]

Manufacturing industries are currently going through a transitional phase from mass production to low volume high variant production. In order to cope with this paradigm change new ways of operating and automating industrial machinery equipment is necessary. A very promising approach is to use distributed control concepts where each machine or even machine part gets its own control device, providing secure automated operation of the controlled part and cooperating with other parts in order to perform the overall production task. Such control approaches have the advantage that they can be adapted and changed more easily keeping the changes mainly localized. Furthermore they feature a better stability in case of system errors or faults (e.g., a disturbance in one device allows to other to continue their operation) as well as to provide the possibility of a better graceful degradation.

For turning such industrial automation systems into reality new programming methodologies and tools are necessary. One approach is the IEC 61499 reference model for distributed and reconfigurable automation. It defines a component oriented real-time software architecture for distributed control systems. While the general benefits of this approach could be shown in several prototype implementations industrial grade tools have been more or less missing.

In order to overcome this situation we started 2007 the open source project Framework for Distributed Industrial Automation and Control (4DIAC, www.fordiac.org). This open source project provides two main elements: At first an Eclipse-based industrial grade programming and system configuration tool for IEC 61499 applications (called 4DIAC-IDE) and at second a small scalable operating system / runtime environment allowing to enable control devices with a real-time capable execution of IEC 61499 control models (called FORTE). In the 6 years since 4DIAC is now available as open source software we could gather an active community from researchers and industrial users in a wide area of different applications (e.g., manufacturing systems, logistics, power and energy applications, robotics).

In this talk we want to present the 4DIAC environment and the requirements from the industrial automation and control domain it has to fulfill. We like to show how the Eclipse platform helped us to implement and maintain the engineering tool transforming a prototype into an industrial grade Integrated Development Environment. In addition to the base Eclipse platform we utilized several GEF-based editors providing graphical editors for our domain specific languages stored in EMF models. Lessons-learned from developing and maintaining our tool on this infrastructure concludes our talk.

Schedule info

Time slot: 
6 June 11:45 - 12:20


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