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10 Killer Features in 20 Minutes: UniLogic Software

Want to know what makes UniLogic one of the most versatile and easy to use PLC programming Software? Check out this video

Hello and welcome to our webinar. Today we will be discussing 10 killer features of UniLogic software that will slash your application development time. UniLogic is the all-in-one software provided by Unitronics’ for their award winning UniStream compact PLC and HMI control platform.

When designing UniLogic, Unitronics focussed on the KIS principle of Keeping It Simple. With this goal in mind they developed a simple environment that will allow UniLogic users access to a beautifully designed HMI screen where they will be able to code Ladder, configure hardware, implement communications and much more.

Of course, this means that UniLogic has many features that slash development time by up to 50% but today we’ll focus on 10 of these features.

Let’s get started with something simple. The All-in-One ergonomic design. Everything is visible. All program components are logically organised within the UniLogic Software.

On the left side, you can find a Solution Explorer window. Here you can access all the functionalities and features of your project, starting from hardware configuration, communication, data diagram, screens, web server, alarms, and many more.

Screens can be set side-by-side for visibility, for example, if you prefer, the Ladder can be placed next to the HMI so that both Ladder and HMI can be programmed in the same screen. Next let’s look at the second great feature… Structs. Which is basically your tag database on steroids

Structs are groups of different type-data tags that are organized into a single, logical unit. Now, UniLogic automatically creates some structs during the programming process to support hardware configuration, and also to support complex functions such as PID. However, you can also create your own structs to service your program functions, and then you can reuse them throughout your program. This is a very powerful feature.

I can demonstrate this for you. So from the bottom window, we can define our user tags and structs as well. In the struct tab, I can define my structs.

Looking first at the oven struct, you can see here we have tags from different data types. Let’s look at the pump struct as well. So you can see here, for example, I have a few tags like pressure, which is integer, overload, and emergency button, which are bits.

Now, let’s create two new pumps in our application. So now we add a new pump… pump one. Under type, you can see there is a new data type which is named pump. I will add another one, let’s say pump two. And now, you can see that inside each one of these tags, I have all the numbers that we created before for the struct pump. So, for example, if you have 10 pumps in your application, you can create one timer struct, and then you can reuse it as many times as you like.

Our third feature is speed Ladder programming. Editing Ladder is virtually error-free; the drag and drop action automatically snaps elements into place. UniLogic software means that you only need to write it once, creating a code that can be used across projects. Raising efficiency via UDFBs [User Defined Function Blocks], is a very easy task as well.

We can add the Ladder elements from the tool box using Drag and Drop. You can drag and drop the elements from the tool box into the Ladder area or double click. So we can add these elements quickly even using the keyboard.

I’m now using my arrow through the keyboard, and I can add more and more elements. I can move the Ladder elements to anywhere you see the green dots. So let’s say if I want to put this one first, I can just place it wherever I want without the need to draw any lines, and if I want to put the elements in parallel, you can see the snap effect. So that’s how fast and easy I can create Ladder code. And of course, if I want, I can zoom in or zoom out to see more Ladder elements.

Now, if I want to link my tags into this Ladder, I just need to click on my Ladder element. It will open a list. Actually, it’s a filtered list with all the tags that can be linked to this Ladder element. Since we are using contact and coils, I will see only bits. Let’s link the pump tags that we created before. I can just type to filter and find my tags quickly. So you can see how fast I can fill this Ladder. We can also have the Ladder split into regions with different colours for better documenting of code.

Now, we are really getting into the killer features. Meet number four. The power data tools – data sampler, data tables, and recipes. Data samplers enable you to record dynamic application data, such as output values, at fixed intervals into files on an SD card. You can also represent data samples on trend graphs on the HMI screen. Data tables are a unique Unitronics power feature. You use them to organise and to manipulate data via Ladder functions to create data logs, to create and implement recipes, import and export values from or to Excel, and also to allow users to enter and edit data into data tables via the panel.

So we can find the data sampling again in our Solution Explorer. Let’s say I want to take samples from my pump pressure. I just need to add data sampler, set the folder where the file will be saved in our SD card, and link our tags that we want to take samples from such as Pump one pressure. Then I can add another feed and link pump two pressure. That’s it. Once we activate this data sampler, we will have a file with all the pump pressure values in our file.

Data tables are very easy to create. We can use them for many purposes like data logging, recipes, and more. Data tables are based on structs. So for adding new data tables, I just click on Add New Table. I can link to any struct that I want. I prepared in advance a struct which is called bread recipe. After linking the struct, I can define the number of rows in my table. And then that’s it. Here is my table. You can see all the columns and the rows that created this data table structure. Now, we can use it with our special Ladder data table elements for reading and writing data.

And we are now up to number five, HMI displays. UniLogic enables you to design HMI screens that look as though they were designed by a graphic artist. This is because you have use of UniLogic’s extensive free graphic library and also the HMI widgets.

Indeed you can build really nice screens using the HMI designer. I will just show a few features we have in the HMI. For example, there is automatic alignment. You can see when I’m moving my buttons here on the screen, that these red lines show me how I can align the elements to each other.

We can also set transparency to these elements. So you can see here using this opacity property, I can set these elements as transparent. We can have multi-layer, and we can also set angles to each one of these elements.

You can see with this nice widget, the circular gauge, how fast I can build it. I will delete this one and add a new one, and look how fast we can set it up in the screens. So I will just select my circular gauge, place it on the screen, select its style. For example, I will use progressive style. I will set the ranges in different colours. And if you want the gauge to show pump pressure, we can link it. Again, we get the list, link it to the pressure, and that’s it. Now, this widget will show our pump pressure in a nice view.

We have many other elements, so we prepared a few screens to show you. We have the user controls like radio buttons, check boxes, list boxes, combo box or user entry. We have tanks and bar graphs. Many properties can be changed, like colours and so on. We also have time and date widgets, analogue time, digital time, calendar date, and digital date. We have the trend widget that comes with the built-in buttons to show. Basically, we just need to link the data sampler we created before to this trend, and we will see the data that we took the sampling from on this trend.

Also when we install UniLogic, we get a library of around 700 pictures to use in your program at no cost. This is just an example of a nice screen we created with UniLogic. We have circular gauges as you saw before, linear gauges. Again, each one of these are elements that exist in our tool box. And we have also the data table widget that basically we can link the data table created before, and then we will be able to see on the HMI all the data of the data table, and we will also be able to edit it if we want. There’s a nice preview of the screen when we mouse over or we can see it in a thumbnails view so that we can select the screen that we want to use.

Now, this next feature is going to look very familiar. Web page design. You do not need to know any HTML at all to design really nice web pages using UniLogic. You just drag and drop the user controls widgets to create pages that enable your end users to view and enter application data via any web browser.

Yes, so we can see the web server here. When adding the web server, you can define users and roles. This is basically an option to secure your web pages, so we can create roles.

Let’s look at an example of a web page that we created before. You can see the tool box with all the web elements which means we can create our web page without the need to know anything about HTML or JavaScript. I can even show you how I can add a new web page. So let’s take another gauge, put it on the screen and link it again to my pump pressure, this element now, when we browse into this controller IP address, will be able to show the pump pressure as a linear gauge.

And this brings us to number seven. And number seven is really the beginning of the killer features. The concept of build-it-once and then reuse. I think that this is the ultimate time saver in the entire system. You add your UDFBs, your HMI screens, and your web pages to the library. Then you can drag and drop them anywhere you need them. UniLogic takes care of the tags. Also, you can import your library into any project, and you can share it with others.

We created in advance a very simple UDFB. We called it pump logic. For example, if the pump set point is higher than the pump pressure, we’ll want to create an action. After creating this logic, we can reuse it as many times as we like in our program. I just need to drag this function into the Ladder and I can use as many times as I want. Of course, I can link different parameters to each one of these functions, and then I can reuse it. Of course, this function was created with the special tags, like function in, function out tags, in order to be able to link different parameters into this function.

We can also export this function and then email it to anyone we want to share it with. We can also edit it to a library. You can see our library here, again, in the Solution Explorer. You can see we have a library with three folders, for Ladder function, HMI displays, and web server pages. So for every application that I will open in UniLogic, I will have this function available, and I can use it in any application.

And that really is an amazing time saver. And that brings us up to number eight, languages. UniLogic supports any language that you can type including Asian languages such as Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. You simply enter translated text into the language table translation, and then you can switch HMI language via user actions or via program events.

So here in languages we can that see that the default language is English. If I want to add another language, I can just right click and add a language. So practically any language is supported. You can see here a huge list of languages. For example, I will choose Chinese, click on OK. So now, I added the Chinese into my program. By just choosing the Chinese, I can see this grid which shows all the text elements we have on our HMI. And here from this grid, I can either translate the English word into Chinese or I can export the whole grid into Excel, translate it in Excel, and then import it back into UniLogic and have everything translated into Chinese.

Then very simply for example, I can put the Chinese flag here. I can link an action here, set language, select the language I want and that’s it. From this moment when I will press on this button on the HMI, the whole text will change to Chinese.

That is pretty cool, I’ve got to say. Now, I want to say that UniStream was designed to be a true multi-purpose, high functioning controller. Feature number nine, built-in alarms is a very good example of this. The alarm system is designed in accordance with the ISA standards for alarm systems and process industries. It’s intuitive, easy to implement, easy to operate, and the system includes a lot of features that allow you to detect alarms, analyze them, and take action.

Creating alarms in UniLogic is really easy and intuitive. You can find the alarms here in the Solution Explorer. Creating groups will help with arranging alarms. After creating a group, I can create alarms inside and you can actually create up to 1,024 alarms. We can decide for each one of the alarms what will be the names, severity and priority.

So let’s say I will set the name to pump pressure high. Then when I want to set the condition of the alarm, I can browse inside the alarm, set the condition, in this case, it will be analogue condition. We can link the tag, which is our pump pressure and set the operator. Let’s say it will be greater than, the value can be either constant or from a tag but for now I’ll set it as constant. We can set a description and counter measure for the operator. And we also have some other advanced options like on-delay, off-delay for the alarm, and even deadband.

So right now, I have my controller here on my desk, and I’m connected to it by VNC. Any UniStream controller is a VNC server by default. So we can take any VNC client and connect it for remote access.

You can see at the top that we have a banner for the alarms. Right now it’s green, since there are no active alarms. I will just simulate an alarm. So after the pressure goes high, you can see that the burner has become red. We can see here on the banner the alarms running in this window, and we can go inside and see the alarm summary. It also details when the alarm was activated. And we can see more details here using the Eye button… the description, the counter measure, and we can acknowledge the alarm. We can select individually one alarm and acknowledge or we can select all and acknowledge all of them. And if we want, of course, we can clear after the alarm becomes inactive.

We have another nice widget, which is for managing alarms. It’s called alarm status viewer. Here you will see the list of the alarms. I can basically go into each one of the alarms and decide whether I want to disable it or to shelve it in case there is a faulty sensor for example.

Any VNC client has full remote access. That’s a great thing. Now, we have arrived at our final killer feature. Killer feature number 10, Communications. Communications are incredibly fast and very easy to configure and implement. UniStream data communications function independently of Ladder. A single PLC can contain multiple slave definitions and also multiple master definitions.

Here we can find our communication. UniStream can support many physical ports such as Ethernet, RS232, RS485, USB device and host, and CAN bus. As you can see, we support many protocols – CANopen, SNMP, Modbus IP/TCP, UniCAN, FTP, and even EtherNet/IP Allen-Bradley protocol.

When we want to build our protocol, if we are using Modbus for example, and the UniStream is set to Modbus Master, I can easily create my remote slave settings. I can decide what will be the communication with this slave, whether it will be Ethernet or serial. And then for reading and writing information from the slave, I can just add new operation, link it, for example, let’s say if I want to read a temperature from the oven. So I can just set the name of the tag, the address, whether I want to read or write, the Modbus address and the interval to read and write, and that’s it.

This is all you need to do in order to set up the Modbus. The same goes for other communications. Let’s say, for example EtherNet/IP, to use the UniStream as a scanner, I can add up to 60 nodes. I just need to set the IP address of the node, the address to read, address to write, address for the configuration, link the tags for each one of these, and that’s it. By just filling a table, we can configure our communication very easily.

I have to say that this whole table thing is very easy to manage. So we have reached the end, my friends so let’s review our 10 killer features;

1. The all-in-one ergonomic design
2. Structs
3. Speed Ladder programming
4. Power data tools
5. Beautiful HMI displays
6. Web pages with no HTML required
7. Build-it-once
8. Languages at the touch of a button
9. Built-in alarms

So before we go to questions and answers, I want to mention this: UniLogic like all Unitronics software and utilities, including updates and may be downloaded from the Unitronics website at no charge. Also, Unitronics standard policy of customer care will allow you to enjoy personalised technical support as well as unlimited participation in Unitronics’ highly active, moderated Technical Support Forum.


Q: What if you’re using a barcode reader or similar that has a protocol that isn’t supported in UniLogic, what do we do?
A: "We have a nice feature, which is called message composer. Using the message composer, we can compose messages. So take a look how easy it is. I can add a new device. I can set its start of text, end of text, whether it has a check sum. I can add a new message, messages that I want to send or receive. And then by just dragging and dropping, I can create my message very easily. Of course, if it’s available I can link it to a tag again. And this is how easy it is to create the messages. And then by just simple letter elements, we can send the messages and receive them."

Q: What email support is provided?
A: "We support sending emails and SMS. You can see that it looks almost the same like before. We can add an account of the email, setting the email address, username, password, set the mail server that we are going to use. And then we can add email, and building the body of the email is done exactly before, by just dragging and dropping these elements. I can create my message and set the subject. I can set cc/bcc, and we can even attach files that we save on our SD card."

Still have more questions about the powerful UniLogic Programming software or any other Unitronics products? Please do not hesitate to get in touch.