• Announcing ePAC, the automation controller of the future

Man pushing cart down data center aisle.
The Modicon M580, the first ePAC. This new ePAC uses the latest technology to address today’s concerns about system stability and security.

It has been more than a decade since the emergence of the first PAC (programmable automation controller), the Modicon Premium™ from Schneider Electric™. This class of multi-disciplined controller was revolutionary at the time and it offered what industrial producers worldwide had long awaited: complete, near real-time process information and motion control capability in a single programming and engineering environment.

Today’s plants require rapid changeovers as product life cycles shrink and consumer demand constantly shifts. It is critical for automation architectures to change on the fly, without costly process downtime.

Now, the world’s first ePAC
Therefore, the modern day PAC must become a true hub for both live control and information, with open communications, increased bandwidth, and a high level of security. It also must support a control architecture that optimizes process flexibility, data transparency, and openness for local and remote diagnostics. All these requirements can be met by combining the capabilities of Ethernet networking with a traditional PAC into a new concept: a network-centric, fully Ethernet-capable PAC.

The Modicon M580 from Schneider Electric is the first controller in this new class, the world’s first ePAC (Ethernet PAC). All communications – including the controller’s backplane bus – are managed on a built-in open Ethernet backbone, from the control level down to field devices, via remote or distributed I/O. For maximum data transparency, legacy Ethernet-enabled devices can be integrated for a cohesive and continuous system.

A dual I/O bus is also supported, which is critical to ensuring redundancy for many process applications.

In addition, the Modicon M580 ePAC offers critical live architecture flexibility. Authorized users can make application, configuration, and architecture modifications without halting the process. This includes adding new drops or new modules in an existing drop, modifying channel configuration parameters, and automatically reconfiguring hot-swapped modules – all online while the process is running.

The latest technology for system stability, security
This new ePAC uses the latest technology to address today’s concerns about system stability and security. A powerful dual-core microprocessor enables high-speed, wide bandwidth, and uninterrupted data transfer. At the same time, advanced cyber security features protect the controller against cyber attacks, with password-encrypted applications and firmware integrity checks.

Considering all of these additional capabilities, it is clear that the Modicon M580 ePAC is more than just a reinvented PAC. Its native Ethernet backbone opens a world of new possibilities, delivering an open, transparent, yet fully cohesive, stable, and secured system — the perfect fit for the dynamic market realities of today and tomorrow.

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