"One familiar interface for all software components"
Two years ago, B&R radically simplified the development of machine software with the introduction of mapp Technology. Encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive market response, B&R continues to expand the portfolio of its revolutionary software framework. We asked Dr. Gernot Bachler and Christoph Trappl to explain how ready-made, thoroughly tested software modules are able to replace the repetitive, low-level programming otherwise required for generic machine functionality. We also wanted to know what specific benefits machinery and equipment builders can expect from the new mapp components.
Christoph Trappl: mapp Technology The mapp Technology software framework comprises modular blocks that handle basic machine functions. Rather than write lines and lines of code to create a user management system, alarm system or even motion control function, developers simply configure a ready-made component with just a few clicks. Benchmark testing has shown that the development process is completed three times faster. This frees up developers to focus their energy on implementing and optimizing the machine's core value-adding processes.
Are you saying that mapp is a collection of software libraries?
Trappl: It's much more than that. mapp components are fully networked and exchange data automatically. The audit trail and user management components, for example, work together to log the who, what and when of any changes to the system – without the developer having to write a single line of code.
Gernot Bachler: That's right, we're massively expanding the component portfolio. More important than the sheer number of them, however, is the fact that all of the software technologies we offer – whether for alarm handling, axis control or complex hydraulic controls – will now be accessible through the same familiar interface.
What is being done to keep everything organized?
Bachler: We've harmonized the version and release data for all B&R software, making it easier for machinery and equipment builders to plan when specific functions will be available. Users no longer need to be concerned with dependencies between software versions.
Are you saying that mapp will soon be replacing Automation Studio as the B&R software development tool?
Bachler: Not at all. Automation Studio will remain the universal environment for engineering, commissioning and diagnostics. Our customers can code their machine software using any IEC 61131 programming language, C and C++. How much B&R know-how a customer wishes to leverage in the form of mapp components is entirely up to them. Judging by the enthusiastic feedback, however, I'm confident our customers will be looking to use mapp anywhere they can.
So far, mapp components have been primarily dedicated to basic machine functionality, like the alarm system. What new areas are now being covered?
Bachler: In addition to the basic functions – which are now called mapp Services – we are introducing mapp Motion, mapp Control and mapp View.
Can you tell us a bit more about what functions are provided in each area?
Bachler: If I start listing each individual function and component we'll be here all day, but I'd be happy to give you an overview. mapp Motion spans everything from control of individual axes to CNC applications and even highly complex robotics solutions. mapp Control includes advanced closed-loop algorithms for things like temperature, hydraulics and crane control. mapp View is our web-based HMI solution. In typical mapp style, mapp View obtains the data it needs from other mapp components automatically and displays it in a clearly organized user interface.
Trappl: mapp is growing all the time. We update and expand the mapp portfolio four times a year. One of the most recent additions is a component that enables large cranes to transport loads quickly without twisting or swinging out of control. What used to require elaborate calculations, mapp Crane lets you do with just a few clicks of the mouse.
Bachler: mapp is also expanding into entire new domains. One of these currently in the works is mapp Safety, which will allow machine builders to benefit from the many advantages of mapp Technology in their safety technology as well.