By John Rhea
HERNDON, Va. - An open-system architecture for machine controllers is embodied in a new standard agreed upon last month by the National Electronics Manufacturing Initiative (NEMI) and the IEEE Standards Association.
The purpose of the standard, known as the application programming interface, is to streamline the development of machine-specific application software that is independent of the controller hardware and the operating system.
The current practice of most manufacturers is to use proprietary control systems that are incompatible with third-party equipment and thus require each company to write its own software.
The idea of an open, modular architecture for controllers was first proposed at General Motors in August 1994. At that time, NEMI officials set up a project team headed by Cimetrix in Salt Lake City to create the standard for submission to IEEE for approval.
The two organizations announced completion of the process last month.
Further information is available from the IEEE Standards Association site on the World Wide Web at http://standards.ieee. org/catalog/NEMI.html.