Questions, answers about how to improve PLC programming with Git workflows

Learning Objectives

  • PLC programming efficiency can be improved to compare to code development for other areas.
  • Software development tools use DevOps, Git-based strategies to improve PLCs code development and additional questions the webcast didn’t have time to answer are answered here.

Using modern tools with programmable logic controllers (PLCs) can help improve code quality, development speed and lower costs, according to Darren Henry, vice president of marketing, and Vaughn Varma, technical marketing manager, both with Copia. The experts answered extra audience questions below after the Aug. 30 Control Engineering webcast, “Using Git for PLC Workflows.”

The webcast included a question-and-answer session at the end, and below are additional questions and answers from the audience the experts didn’t have time to answer within the 1-hour webcast.

Darren Henry is vice president of marketing and Vaughn Varma is technical marketing manager, both with Copia. Courtesy: Copia Automation

Darren Henry is vice president of marketing and Vaughn Varma is technical marketing manager, both with Copia. Courtesy: Copia Automation

Using Git for PLC workflows: Compatibility with Rockwell Automation, other vendors

Question: What advantages does git offer over using FactoryTalk AssetCentre from Rockwell Automation?

Answer: Copia is Git-based, vendor agnostic software that enables collaboration among multiple team members via branch and merge.

Q: How does Copia work with Rockwell’s Application Code Manager for PlantPAx projects?     

A: It can manage those files so you have version history. It does not render binary files other than PLC code.

Q: Do you plan on supporting the AutomationDirect PLC development platforms (Do-More, Click, Productivity)

A: Eventually, yes, but it’s not on the short-term road map.

Q: Does this work with GE Proficy for Rx3i code?         

A: Not yet. We can track those files but do not render.

Q: Are there ties to SOC tools?

A: We are SOC2 compliant.

Q: Does Copia works with Siemens TIA Portal v17 with complex automation code (using PLC data types, FB instances)?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you have plans to include Horner in your list?     

A: Not yet. We can track those files but do not render.

Q: Do you plan to incorporate GE/Emerson support in the future?      

A: Yes, but not immediately.

Q: What Schneider Electric PLC software do you support?        

A: Copia supports Schneider Electric Control Expert v14-v15.

Q: Do you have any suggestions for Idec WinLDR and git?        

A: No. We can track the files but cannot render.

PLC programmers can improve workflows. Git-based software tracks code changes, allows access to earlier versions as code evolves, provides visualization into changes and uses branching and merging for more efficient workflows, explained Darren Henry is vice president of marketing and Vaughn Varma is technical marketing manager, both with Copia, in a Control Engineering webcast. Courtesy: Copia

PLC programmers can improve workflows. Git-based software tracks code changes, allows access to earlier versions as code evolves, provides visualization into changes and uses branching and merging for more efficient workflows, explained Darren Henry is vice president of marketing and Vaughn Varma is technical marketing manager, both with Copia, in a Control Engineering webcast. Courtesy: Copia

Using Git for PLC workflows: Training, cybersecurity, cloud

Q: Do you have training for someone without PLC experience?

A: We have videos on using Copia. We do not do PLC programming training.

Q: Is there a manual for this resource for company-wide use?  

A: We have publicly available user documentation.

Q: Can you explain how this works with air-gapped enterprise and controls networks?

A: Copia is primarily used in code development. The computers your team uses to develop the code would be connected to Copia. Usually, the air-gapped networks are the manufacturing network or operational network. Here we can install a client to monitor the PLC code that is machine deployed.

Q: Is there an on-premise (on-prem) option?   

A: No on prem, but we do have virtual private cloud options.

Using Git for PLC workflows: HMI, other files, integration 

Q: Does Copia help with industrial HMI code development?     

A: We can track and render any text-based code.

Q: What HMI products are supported?     

A: We can track the version history of all HMI files, we only render those that are text based (XML, HTML 5.0).  these would be text displayed not graphic rendering.

Q: Do you support other types of files like Microsoft Excel, Word, and Autocad DWG files?      

A: We can track the files but not render them. 

Q: Can you do an example of integration with slack?    

A: We have a blog on this topic. We can walk you through, if you contact customer support.

Using Git for PLC workflows: Fixing issues, distribution, storage

Q: What sort of bugs have you seen? If you are doing a merge, you are affecting source code on developer side, so if there’s a glitch, it could propagate.           

A: We occasionally run into issues with code with custom add-ons. Usually, our support team can work through the issues. Because we track everything, there are multiple ways to revert to the previous state, so risk is always minimal.

Q: Is there a program (like for existing PLC distributors) for reselling copia licenses?     

A: We do have a referral program. Please send us an email at contact@copia.io.

Q: Is Copia storage format proprietary?

A: No. It is encrypted but not proprietary.

– Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media and Technology, mhoske@cfemedia.com.

KEYWORDS

PLC programming, DevOps and Git-based programming for PLCs

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How can better PLC-programming workflow improve quality, efficiency and lower cost?

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