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Open Process Distributed Automation using IEC 61499

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

Systems Engineering Division Technical Session 1

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Paper Authors


Irene Prado

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Irene Prado is a senior Control and Instrumentation Engineering Technology student at the University of Houston-Downtown. She has participated in three semesters of MSEIP DOED funded research under the mentorship of Dr. Weining Feng with a focus on various distributed automation systems. She is the President of the ISA-UHD Chapter.

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Weining Feng University of Houston - Downtown

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Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering Technology, University of Houston-Downtown. Research interest in industrial control systems, distributed automation, system condition monitoring, safety instrumented function evaluation and implementation, and power system management

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As the control capabilities of technology were explored and expanded upon, many industries made the switch to various kinds of automated systems. These control systems were often coupled together, hardware and software, inseparable. These systems are closed, making it difficult to insert new technology, change methods, or even update existing equipment. Many industries are struggling with these digitalization issues. Due to this there has been a rise in interest for open process automation standards (O-PAS), where the hardware and software have been decoupled. This means that vendors’ proprietary equipment can’t pigeonhole factories into just one single brand and allows for interoperability between different brands of devices. Ideally many different control systems and their corresponding automated machinery can communicate in a seamless and efficient environment, with maximum capability for adaptation.

This study is a focused exploration of the IEC61499 function block programming system for the purpose of distributed automation. Three test cases were created to demonstrate the distributed automation paradigm. The final test case is a discrete example using the Fischertechnik Punching Machine and Conveyor system. Following a similar case study, the system was created using a single Raspberry Pi as a controller. Using the 4DIAC integrated development environment (IDE) and the IEC 61499 function block coding system the programming was successfully deployed to the machinery. As the next step, two Raspberry Pi controllers were used to created and demonstrate a distributed automation environment. The previous function block coding was split and mapped to each Raspberry Pi, one specified for the conveyor belt movement and the other for the punching mechanism. The application program was then distributed to two controllers, each with independent and dependent processes, working individually and in tandem. Testing this new distributed control system demonstrated a successful deployment to the punch machine. Extrapolating from this small-scale example the same structure and process has real world application in automated systems.

Prado, I., & Feng, W. (2022, August), Open Process Distributed Automation using IEC 61499 Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN.

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