Twincat is the IEC61131-3 PLC programming environment for the Beckhoff range of automation controllers. We were initially attracted to Beckhoff because of their Ethercat Fieldbus (see related blog) however we have also come to realise and benefit from the inherent versatility of the Twincat environment. Twincat runs with Windows or more specifically Windows runs under Twincat, and this dual resource provides a very powerful automation platform.
We recently had a need to time synchronise seven PLC’s (CX2020’s) to a central SCADA system (Webstudio) so all the Scada Alarm Messages from each device were in time sync. We soon discovered that this could be done using the Windows SNTP client NetTime. Installation and configuration was simple, and the entire plant is now in time sync to within 10 msec.

Having a Windows OS running along side your PLC facilitates the merging of the traditional IT and PLC worlds. This will become increasingly more important in the future as the two merge to provide solutions for the much touted IOT and Industry 4.