PowerFlex 520 Series Adapter Card Selection Guide

For industrial motion and motor integration, AC and DC drives have become the standard control device of choice. Historically, drives have usually been installed with low-cost point wiring back to a PLC, but modern industrial performance expectations push for network-connected devices in both new and existing systems alike. Connecting a drive to a communication network allows engineers to access all of its features, data, and performance capabilities remotely, in real-time. One well-known series of drives, the Allen-Bradley PowerFlex 520 Series, has an extremely large installation base in the United States and abroad, making it a perfect candidate for upgrading with network connectivity. In this article, we’ll explore communication option cards and their features for the PowerFlex 520 AC Drive Series.

PowerFlex 520 Series AC Drive Overview

Allen-Bradley’s PowerFlex 520 Series of AC Drives spans three models, each designed with a specific application and feature set in mind.

  • PowerFlex 523 AC drives are ideal for machines that require cost-effective motor control. 
  • PowerFlex 525 AC drives are ideal for machines with simple system integration and offer standard features including built-in EtherNet/IP and safety. 
  • PowerFlex 527 AC drives are designed to be used with an Allen-Bradley Logix Programmable Automation Controller (PAC).  Ideal for machines that can benefit from the same drive configuration experience for both servo and AC drives, the PowerFlex 527 drive features built-in dual Ethernet ports, for EtherNet/IP and safety communication over the network. 

Communication options vary in each of the models within the PowerFlex 520 family.  The series originally consisted of only the 523 and 525 models, and you’ll still find documentation out there that only mentions these two versions.  The 523 was designed for non-networked, standalone applications, whereas the 525 was intended for networked applications that may also need SIL 2 safety along with Logix control integration.  Later, when Allen-Bradley began to push their Process Automation Control (PAC) solutions, the PowerFlex 527 was introduced as a pre-configured package ready with dual port EtherNet/IP, SIL 3 safety, and servo drive capabilities that were matched to PAC-level applications.  Since the 527 was designed specifically for Logix PACs and EtherNet/IP systems, the older communication adaptor cards available for the 523 and 525 are not necessary or compatible with the 527.  In other words, the PowerFlex 520 Series Communication Adaptor Cards that we’ll discuss below are only compatible with the PowerFlex 523 and 525 model drives.  

To better exemplify the above compatibility restrictions, let’s present the available option cards by model in table form.  The below info is extracted from the specifications listed in Allen-Bradley’s PowerFlex 520 Series Brochure, publication #520-BR001D-EN-P, dated July 2015. 

PowerFlex SeriesPowerFlex 523  
AC Drives
PowerFlex 525  
AC Drives 
PowerFlex 527  
AC Drives
CommunicationsIntegral RS485 with Modbus RTU/DSI 
 
Dual-port EtherNet/IP option card 
 
DeviceNet option card 
 
PROFIBUS DP option card
Integral RS485 with Modbus RTU/DSI 
 
Embedded EtherNet/IP port 
 
Dual-port EtherNet/IP option card 
 
DeviceNet option card 
 
PROFIBUS DP option card 
Built-in Dual-port EtherNet/IP 

PowerFlex 520 Series Adaptor Cards 

Allen-Bradley offers (3) communication option cards for their PowerFlex 520 series drives (which is again to say, only the 523 and 525 models).  These cards are as follows:  

  • Dual Port EtherNet/IP Communication Adaptor Card (25-COMM-E2P) 
  • DeviceNet Communication Adaptor Card (25-COMM-D) 
  • PROFIBUS Communication Adaptor Card (25-COMM-P)

Each card can be installed into the modular chassis of each drive.  The cards communicate with the drive using a Device Serial Interface (DSI), which requires an interface adaptor between the communication card and the drive.  These cards can be installed in the field without uninstalling the drive itself, and can be configured locally or remotely after commissioning. Next, let’s take a closer look at the features and capabilities of each adaptor card. 

Dual Port EtherNet/IP Adaptor Card  

First up, the Allen-Bradley PowerFlex 520 Series Dual Port EtherNet/IP Adaptor Card, part number 25-COMM-E2P. 

In most applications today, automation designers prefer to have all drives ‘on the network’, so that they can control, access, configure, troubleshoot, and monitor each drive directly.  Messaging and real-time data acquisition is expected for most deployments, as is the ability to diagnose and resolve issues remotely without having to be physically present at the drive in the field.  For these reasons, a Dual Port EtherNet/IP Adaptor Card is often added to existing non-networked drives (PowerFlex 523 models, for this discussion). 

In cases where a drive already has a single EtherNet port (PowerFlex 525 models, again for this discussion), expanding to a Dual Port EtherNet/IP Adaptor Card brings a host of expanded topology and redundancy benefits to your application.  Using dual ports, you can implement Device Level Ring (DLR) functionality, which creates a ring network with two connections to each device in the network, such that if one device fails, the other devices can continue to operate normally.  DLR, a standard protocol developed by the industrial automation standards organization ODVA, is designed to reduce the complexity of managed switches, cabling, and configuration time in communication ring networks implemented at the device level. 

Here we’ll list all of the benefits outlined in the Dual Port EtherNet/IP Adaptor Card’s User Manual, publication #820COM-UM003A-EN-E, dated June 2013: 

  • Industrial Ethernet switch, and ENET1 and ENET2 network ports that provide connections for EtherNet/IP star, linear, or device-level ring (DLR) network topologies. 
  • Switches to set a network node address before applying power to the drive—or you can disable the switches and use a BOOTP server, a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server, or adapter parameters to configure the IP address. 
  • Compatibility with various configuration tools to configure the adapter and host drive. The tools include the PowerFlex 4/40-class HIM (Human Interface Module 22-HIM-A3 or 22-HIM-C2S), and drive-configuration software such as RSLogix 5000 (version 17 or greater), Logix Designer (version 21 or greater), and Connected Components Workbench (version 3 or greater). 
  • Status indicators that report the status of the adapter and network communications. 
  • Parameter-configured 16-bit Datalinks in the I/O to meet application requirements (four Datalinks to write data from the network to the drive, and four Datalinks to read data to the network from the drive). 
  • Explicit Messaging support. 
  • Master-Slave hierarchy that can be configured to transmit data to and from a controller on the network. 
  • Multi-drive mode which allows up to five drives to share a single EtherNet/IP node. 
  • User-defined fault actions to determine how the adapter and its host PowerFlex 520-series drive respond to: 
    • I/O messaging communication disruptions (Comm Flt Action) 
    • Controllers in idle mode (Idle Flt Action) 
  • Automatic Device Configuration (ADC) is an RSLogix 5000 (version 20 or greater) and Logix Designer (version 21 or greater) software feature that supports the automatic download of configuration data upon the Logix controller establishing an EtherNet/IP network connection to a PowerFlex 520-series drive and its associated peripherals. 

DeviceNet Adaptor Card 

Next up is the Allen-Bradley PowerFlex 520 Series DeviceNet Adaptor Card, part number 25-COMM-D.   

Originally developed by Allen-Bradley for advanced serial communication, DeviceNet is currently managed by the industrial automation standards group ODVA under a parent framework known as the Common Industrial Protocol, or CIP.  DeviceNet can be mainly viewed as a wiring simplification solution, and being an open-source protocol, it’s been widely adopted by hardware, cabling, instrumentation, and software manufacturers alike to offer a standardized ecosystem from the PLC to field device level.  Flat or round four-wire DeviceNet cabling can be installed free-air along equipment as a trunk, and then using device adaptors, can drop individual branch connections supplying both power and signal circuits in a single cable to a max 64 nodes (devices) per network.  The main takeaway here is that DeviceNet eliminates the need for individual cable or wire circuits to be pulled out to each device from a PLC – the DeviceNet trunk can connect to multiple devices with a single home run.      

Bringing DeviceNet connectivity to a PowerFlex 520 series drive provides both the above significant wiring reduction, as well as the added benefit of remote configuration across the DeviceNet network.  Once installed, the DeviceNet adaptor only needs a unique node address assigned, a data rate set, and then you are ready to remotely manage the drive.   

The full list of the DeviceNet Adaptor Card’s features follows, as pulled from the card’s User Manual, publication #520COM-UM002A-EN-E, dated April 2013:   

  • Mounting onto a PowerFlex 525 [and 523] Control Module back cover for installation into the drive. It receives the required power from the drive and from the DeviceNet network. 
  • Switches to set a node address and network data rate before applying power to the PowerFlex drive. Alternatively, you can disable the switches and use parameters to configure these functions. 
  • Compatibility with various configuration tools to configure the DeviceNet adapter and host drive. The tools include network software such as RSNetWorx for DeviceNet, and drive-configuration software such as RSLogix 5000 (version 17 or greater), Logix Designer (version 21 or greater), and Connected Components Workbench (version 3 or greater). 
  • Status indicators that report the status of the DeviceNet adapter and network communications. 
  • Parameter-configured 16-bit Datalinks in the I/O to meet application requirements (four Datalinks to write data from the network to the drive, and four Datalinks to read data to the network from the drive). 
  • Explicit Messaging and UCMM (Unconnected Message Manager) support. 
  • Master-Slave hierarchy that can be configured to transmit data to and from a controller on the network. 
  • Multi-drive mode which allows up to five drives to share a single DeviceNet address node. 
  • User-defined fault actions to determine how the DeviceNet adapter and its host PowerFlex 525 drive respond to: 
    • I/O messaging communication disruptions (Comm Flt Action) 
    • Controllers in idle mode (Idle Flt Action) 
  • Multiple data exchange methods, including Polled, Cyclic, and Change of State (COS), can be used to transmit data between the network and adapter. 
  • Faulted node recovery is supported. You can configure a device even when it is faulted on the network if you have a configuration tool that uses faulted node recovery and have properly set the adapter node address switches and data rate switches. 

PROFIBUS Adaptor Card

Lastly, let’s take a look at Allen-Bradley’s PowerFlex 520 Series PROFIBUS Adaptor Card, part number 25-COMM-P. 

Short for Process Field Bus, PROFIBUS is an older serial fieldbus communication standard that uses twisted pairs and fiber wiring to interconnect industrial process field devices.  The 25-COMM-P card is compatible with the PROFIBUS DP variant, referring to the Decentralized Peripherals update from the early 1990s.  This protocol today is mostly geared towards sensor and actuator communication, but can be used to add other devices (such as PowerFlex 520 series drives) to existing PROFIBUS DP networks.     

From the Allen-Bradley PowerFlex 520 Series PROFIBUS Communication Adaptor User Manual, publication #520COM-UM004A-EN-E dated November 2013, we find this full list of features:   

  • Mounting onto a PowerFlex 520-series drive Control Module back cover for installation into the drive. 
  • Switches to set a node address before applying power to the PowerFlex drive. Alternatively, you can disable the switches and use parameters to configure these functions. 
  • Compatibility with various configuration tools to configure the adapter and host drive, including the following: 
    • PowerFlex 520-series drive built-in keypad 
    • PowerFlex 22-HIM-A3 or 22-HIM-C2S HIM (Human Interface Module) 
    • Connected Components Workbench (version 3 or greater) 
    • ControlFLASH software (version 7 or greater) 
    • Third-party PROFIBUS configuration software, such as Prosoft Configuration Builder 
  • Status indicators that report the status of the adapter and network communications. 
  • Parameter-configured 16-bit Datalinks in the I/O to meet application requirements (four Datalinks to write data and four Datalinks to read data). 
  • Acylic Messaging support. 
  • Master-Slave hierarchy that can be configured to transmit data to and from a controller on the network. 
  • Multi-drive mode which allows up to five drives to share a single PROFIBUS node. 
  • User-defined fault actions to determine how the adapter and its host PowerFlex 520-series drive respond to the following: 
    • I/O messaging communication disruptions (Comm Flt Action) 
    • Controllers in idle mode (Idle Flt Action) 

We hope that this overview of the PowerFlex 520 AC Drive Series Adaptor Cards has been helpful in understanding the communication options available with this family of drives.  For more information or to discuss which PLC Control and Instrumentation solution might be best for your application, please visit our website here, or contact us at sales@dosupply.com or 1-800-730-0292. 

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