Meet Nexto Xpress, first PLC of Altus’ 5th generation of controllers

Meet Nexto Xpress, first PLC of Altus’ 5th generation of controllers

Nexto Xpress PLCAltus` continuous investments in research and development provide the design of high-tech equipment, solutions adhered to the international industry and capable of meeting the demands of varied segments. This innovative vein is part of the company`s DNA, an intrinsic characteristic in each of the product lines launched throughout its nearly 40 years of history.

To bring you part of Altus programmable controllers history, let`s talk about the product that opened the doors of many companies to the universe of Industry 4.0: the IoT ready PLCs from the Nexto Xpress family.

A PLC made for the market

The first drafts of what would become the Nexto Xpress family were drawn up in December 2017, through an analysis of the world automation scenario at the time. However, the history of the PLC began long before that date. The genesis of the equipment is intertwined with the emergence of the company, since the concept that guided the entire trajectory of the product development is one of Altus` main values: Customer Focus! Created to meet the demands of the machine and small process market, the controller was designed based on the needs of the industry, a 100% customer-driven product.

First pilots of Nexto Xpress PLC

First pilots of Nexto Xpress PLC

In addition to having high adherence to market needs, the products from the Xpress family were also designed to meet the demands of another important aspect that was gaining strength and prominence at the time: the technologies of the 4ª Industrial Revolution. With advanced processing and multiple connectivity features, the family PLCs can be applied in systems connected to virtually every pillar of the Industry 4.0. The features embedded in Nexto Xpress controllers enable the products to be used both in Systems Integration and Internet of Things applications, areas where PLCs are traditionally used, as well as in Edge Computing, Cloud Computing, Big Data and Data Analysis systems, segments increasingly explored in automation systems.

Processo de testes do CLP Nexto Xpress
Processo de testes do CLP Nexto Xpress

Processos de gravação das placas e de injeção da mecânica

Nexto Xpress, Altus all-in-one PLC

Compact and multi-protocol, the Xpress controller is designed to be a true all-in-one PLC. Manufactured with just a circuit board and a multi-task processor with several embedded resources, the product facilitates the industrialization process and can be used in applications for different purposes, from self-service machines and small building automations to distributed systems in large industries. The conformal coating is also a differential for a small controller like Xpress. In the process, a thin layer of non-conductive material is applied to the product plate to protect against corrosion, extreme temperatures, salty air, humidity, among other factors.

Water and Wastewater applicationWith built-in Ethernet, Serial RS 485, CAN and USB communication interfaces, Xpress products are capable of supporting a wide variety of communication protocols. All models in the line support MODBUS TCP and RTU, CANopen, J-1939 and low level, IEC 60870-5-104, EtherNet/IP Scanner, OPC DA, OPC UA and MQTT standards. This variety of communication possibilities allows Altus compact PLCs to interact with the most varied intelligent devices and resources found in the industry. These characteristics alow the PLC to be used in the most varied environments in the industry, like applications from the Sanitation and Energy market. Over the past few years, Xpress controllers have been applied in the most different applications, from water and wastewater treatment systems to energy efficiency solutions. In both cases, the high connectivity rate of Altus products was the determining factor for the project`s success.

To add even more versatility to the systems in which PLCs are used, the products in the family also have characteristics that enable them to work both in Cloud Computing and Edge Computing applications. Nexto Xpress PLCs have a native ability to communicate directly with the most relevant cloud hosting services on the market, such as Microsoft Azure, IBM Cloud, Google One and Amazon AWS.

Another example of where these resources are widely used is the didactic solution developed for technical laboratories of educational institutions. Recently, Xpress technology was applied in the assembly of an Industry 4.0 Training and Development Center in the Brazilian South-West area. The equipment are used for technical training of students and young professionals in different schools throughout the country.

In addition to all of these features, the XP340 model also has WebServer support, a tool that allows the creation of supervision and application monitoring screens without the need to use a SCADA system.

High speed for multi-purpose machines

With a compact design (212.5 x 90.1 x 32.2 mm) and 24 Vdc power, the Xpress solution is ideal for embedded machine control and small applications. Its 32-bit ARM processor, allied to the real-time clock (RTC) and the high density of multi-purpose digital and analog I/O points (voltage, current and temperature) give the solution a high processing capacity, precision and agility in data acquisition. These characteristics make the equipment the perfect solution to provide more speed and economy to the most varied machines on the market, such as labelers, blowers, washers, injection molding machines, bagging machines, grinders, presses, among others.

Recently, Xpress products were used in the modernization of a yogurt and dairy filling machines, where the architecture applied to the machine has the XP300 as the centerpiece of the control system. The family`s equipment also appears as the centerpiece of a thermocycling machine control system. Developed to carry out scientific research in the field of dentistry, the equipment works in the accelerated aging process of composite resins and other dental materials through thermal shocks, using a XP315 PLC.

Another highlight is the cost of implementing Xpress products. All models in the family require low engineering hours for configuration and deliver high performance for reading signals, resulting in high performance and low cost applications, an ideal scenario for machine builders.

A product made for the international market

In addition to having all the qualifications to be applied in the most varied demands of the global industry, the Nexto Xpress PLC is fully comply with the requirements and standards of the international market. The products in the line were designed to follow the Ecodesign requirements of the RoHS directive, which prohibits the use of certain hazardous substances in the equipment manufacturing process, from the simplest inputs to the transport packaging. These characteristics, together with other precepts, also put the Xpress family in compliance with the CE marking, which allows its commercialization in the European area.

In addition to these two features, reliability guarantees in the global electronics market, Xpress controllers are also UL and CUL certified. Issued by the Underwriters Laboratories, the certifications are a mandatory requirement for exporting products to the United States and Canada, which allows Altus to explore both territories in the northern hemisphere and reinforces the Nexto Series concept as a world-class product. Still, to give more coverage to the line, the Xpress PLCs will also have the DNV-GL seal, a requirement in some countries for maritime applications, such as control systems on yachts, cruises, cargo ships and oil production platforms. The certification process has already started with the Det Norske Veritas laboratory and should be completed by the beginning of 2022.

International Presence

As it is a product of high embedded technology and adheres to all these important certifications, we can say that Nexto Xpress is a PLC made to be an international star. This aptitude for the most versatile projects has already caught the attention of the global market, which has been demanding more and more of the product, increasing the scope of Altus equipment.

Today, the Xpress family products are present in each of the five inhabited continents of the planet through the most different applications. Among the main countries where Altus technology is present are Germany, India, Turkey, Italy, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Morocco, Canada, Netherlands, Taiwan, Australia, Norway, China, United Kingdom, United States, among others.

There are many territories conquered by Nexto Xpress programmable controllers in its first three years. Like their predecessors, our compact PLCs also receive upgrades to add new features and continue to meet the demands of the international industry. This process of constant improvement is part of Altus` DNA, which encourages worldwide technological development, and creates a link between this generation of products and the PLCs that we are designing for the future!