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New to Allen Bradley? Here Are Some Tips to Get You Started


Allen-Bradley is the brand name of various product lines of industrial automation equipment manufactured by Rockwell Automation, Inc. – an American provider of factory automation and digital transformation solutions, headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The company manufactures a wide range of products including Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), Programmable Automation Controllers (PACs), software tools, motor drives and drive systems, motor control centers, sensors, encoders, switches, and contactors, as well as safety components and systems.


The Allen-Bradley Company was founded in 1903 by Lynde Bradley, with the financial backing of Dr.Stanton Allen–who invested $1000 for the production of a prototype motor controller. During the 20th century, Lynde and his brother Harry built the company into one of the leading employers in Wisconsin state, by gradually expanding their production facilities in the Walker’s Point area. At the time, the Allen-Bradley Company specialized in the design and manufacturing of different electrical products like the Allen‑Bradley compression rheostats. But as major events, such as World War I (1914 –1918), the Great Depression (1929–1939), and World War II (1939 –1945), transformed the United States, the company shifted its production lines to meet the country’s immediate needs.

For example, during World War I, the company manufactured control panels for U.S. Navy ships among other components, with military orders accounting for 70% of its business. As the Great Depression–the greatest and longest worldwide economic recession–set in, Allen-Bradley developed small discrete resistors for FM radios, enabling more Americans to listen to President Roosevelt’s influential radio talks.

Also, in the 1930s, Allen-Bradley invested heavily in extensive research and development of high-end electrical products. This gave the company an edge in securing profitable government contracts during World War II to manufacture electrical components for warships and fighter planes; with its total sales of these components tripling from 1940 to 1945.

When World War II finally ended, Allen-Bradley resumed its main operations of manufacturing electro-mechanical industrial control systems, while continuing to develop relevant technology solutions for other industries. In the following years, the company would become a leading American manufacturer of electronic components, industrial control systems, adjustable speed drives, variable frequency drives, magnetic materials, and reinforced thermoplastic moldings. These technological innovations were widely adopted in various industries to manufacture automobiles, machine tools, pulp and paper products, glass, food & beverage products, as well as monitoring & control instruments for use in petrochemical, mining, and aerospace industries.

In 1985, the Allen-Bradley Company was purchased by Rockwell Internationalfor $1.651 billion. Rockwell International was a major American multi-industry company involved in manufacturing aircraft, avionics, space shuttle orbiters, the Command and Service Module (CSM) of the Apollo spacecraft, defense and commercial electronics, light-duty and heavy-duty automotive components, valves and meters, and printing presses. On acquiring Allen-Bradley in 1985, the company also became a provider of industrial automation software and hardware.

At the dawn of the Information Revolution of the 1990s, which was driven by computer technology, Rockwell International began developing advanced manufacturing software and other related technologies, most notably the PowerFlex technology. In 2001, the company changed its name from Rockwell International to Rockwell Automation, and a few years after that it initiated a partnership with Intel Corporation to use Intel’s high-performance network processor technology in developing innovative industrial automation solutions. By the mid of the second decade of the 21st century, Rockwell Automation had established its presence in more than 80 countries, thereby becoming a global provider of industrial control products.

Today, Rockwell Automation is the world’s largest American company that’s dedicated to digital transformation and industrial automation. Its organizational structure is currently divided into three operating segments, namely: Software & Control, Intelligent Devices, and Lifecycle Services such as industrial automation asset-management services including consulting and repair.

Allen Bradley Hardware Products

Rockwell Automation provides a wide range of industrial automation hardware under the Allen‑Bradley brand name, including:

1. Programmable Controllers

Programmable Automation Controllers (PACs) and Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) manufactured by Rockwell Automation range from large industrial control systems to small and even microcontrollers designed to meet customers’ specific control needs. Here are some of the currently available Allen‑Bradley programmable controllers:

  • Large Control Systems: These are designed and built to deliver smart and powerful control capabilities for process, motion, and safety requirements in the most demanding industrial applications. Examples of Allen‑Bradley PLCs/PACs in this category include ControlLogix 5580 Controllers and ControlLogix 5570 Controllers.
  • Process Controllers: These controllers are designed for integration into PlantPAx 5.0 – the latest Distributed Control System (DCS) from Rockwell Automation, which makes use of a common automation platform to seamlessly integrate both discrete and process control for plant-wide control applications. There are two Allen‑Bradley purpose-built process controllers, namely CompactLogix 5380 Process controllers and ControlLogix 5580 Process Controllers.
  • Small Control Systems: These are ideal for small to mid-size control applications requiring low I/O point counts and fewer axis of motion. Some of the Allen‑Bradley programmable controllers classified under this category include the CompactLogix 5480, CompactLogix 5380, Compact GuardLogix 5380, CompactLogix5370, SmartGuard 600 Controllers (Bulletin 1752) with Safety features,  and SLC500 control platforms (these have been discontinued).
  • PLC-based Micro Control Systems: Rockwell Automation offers the following Allen-Bradley Micro-programmable logic controller systems:  Micro870 PLCs, Micro850 PLCs, Micro830 PLCs, Micro820 PLCs, Micro810PLCs, Micro800 controllers, and  MicroLogix 1400 PLC systems.

2. PowerFlex AC Drives

Rockwell Automation provides several PowerFlexAC Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) designed to handle both medium-voltage and low-voltage motor control applications, with a broad range of power ratings. Examples of PowerFlexAC drives under the Allen-Bradleybrand name include:

  • PowerFlex Medium-Voltage AC Drives: These are high-performance AC drives designed to meet a variety of motor control needs in heavy industries. They are available in a wide power range of 150…25,400 kW and supply voltages of 2200…11000 V AC, with a motor current of up to 720 A (Amperes) for induction or synchronous motors. Available AC variable frequency drives in this category include PowerFlex 7000 AC drives, PowerFlex 6000T AC drives, and PowerFlex 7000 AC drive platform with ArcShield technology.
  • PowerFlex Low-Voltage AC Drives: These drives are ideal for handling general-purpose motor speed, torque, and position control. Currently available Allen-Bradley Low-Voltage PowerFlexAC drives are categorized into three classes, namely:
    • Architecture-Class PowerFlexAC drives: This is a general-purpose class of AC drives that deliver cost-effective motor control solutions for numerous applications. Allen-BradleyAC drives in this class include PowerFlex 755TS, PowerFlex753, PowerFlex 755, PowerFlex 755T, PowerFlex 70, PowerFlex 700, PowerFlex 700L, and PowerFlex 700S.
    • Compact-Class PowerFlex AC Drives: These drives provide simple and affordable control solutions for standalone machine-level applications or simple drive system integration. They are designed for ease of use, and in a compact package to enhance application versatility and optimize panel space. They include PowerFlex 523 AC drives, PowerFlex 525 AC drives, PowerFlex 527 AC drives, PowerFlex4M AC drives, PowerFlex 4 AC drives,  PowerFlex 40 AC drives,  PowerFlex 40P AC drives, and PowerFlex 400 AC drives.
    • Armor PowerFlex Drives: These are a new generation of AC PowerFlex drives built for harsh industrial environments. They are designed to provide integrated, On-Machine motor control solutions. They feature an inbuilt gigabit Ethernet/IP dual-port, a variety of network safety features, several motor control options, as well as flexible hardware and mounting options which reduce installation time and related costs. Allen-Bradley AC drives in this class are the Armor PowerFlex 35-Series.

3. PowerFlex DC Drives

Rockwell Automation provides a full product line of PowerFlex DC solutions, designed for demanding DC motor control applications and retrofits of up to 4000 kW/6000 Hp. These solutions include PowerFlex DC digital drives, PowerFlex DC field controllers, and PowerFlex DC standalone regulators (SAR).

4. Kinetix Servo Drives

Allen-Bradley servo drives provide smart and scalable motion control solutions, with quicker development time. They are designed to enhance system flexibility, simplify machine designs, and improve overall system performance. These servo drives are classified into the following categories:

  • Multi-axis Control Kinetix Servo Drives:  These drives offer a comprehensive range of configurations to increase machine capabilities for smart manufacturing. They also seamlessly integrate with Allen-Bradley Logix controllers and other control devices, thereby simplifying complex multi-axis control architectures. They include Kinetix 5700 Ethernet/IP servo drives, Kinetix 5500 servo drives, Kinetix 6500 Ethernet/IP servo drives, Kinetix 6200 Safe-speed servo drives (to be discontinued as of December 2023), Kinetix 6000 servo drives (to be discontinued as of December 2023), and Kinetix 2000 Low-power servo drives (discontinued as of December 2022).
  • Single-axis Control Kinetix Servo Drives: They provide innovative features and a comprehensive range of power options for a wide variety of single-axis processes. The available Allen-Bradley servo drives in this category include Kinetix 5500 Ethernet/IP servo drives, Kinetix 5300 Ethernet/IP servo drives, Kinetix7000 servo drives(to be discontinued as of December 2023), and Kinetix 350 Ethernet/IP servo drives(discontinued as of December 2022).
  • Decentralized Control Servo Drives: These are the Armor Kinetix Distributed Servo Drives that provide On-Machine motion control. This servo drive platform offers the high-performance capabilities of the Kinetix 5700 Ethernet/IP servo drives in a compact, On-Machine form factor. It’s a cost-effective decentralized motion control solution aimed at improving the efficiency and flexibility of production machines.
  • Standalone Control Kinetix Servo Drives: These drives reduce machine complexity while shortening time-to-value by providing custom-built levels of control. They are well-suited for low-power servo applications that require improved motion performance and increased manufacturing outcomes. They include Kinetix 5100 Single-axis servo drives, Kinetix 300 Indexing Ethernet/IP servo drives (discontinued as of December 2022), Kinetix 3 Single-axis Component servo drives (discontinued as of December 2022), and Kinetix Ultra 3000 servo drives (discontinued as of December 2022).

5. Kinetix Rotary Servo Motors

Rockwell Automation offers a broad portfolio of Kinetix rotary servo motors with an extensive range of environmental configurations and power options. These servo motors feature reliability and efficiency that can increase system productivity, improve machine service life, and add flexibility to your motion applications. Available Allen-BradleyKinetixrotary servo motors include:

  • Kinetix Asynchronous Main Motors (Bulletin MMA) – three-phase AC induction motors
  • Kinetix VP-Series servo motors
  • MP-Series Food Grade (Bulletin MPF) servo motors
  • MP-Series Stainless Steel (Bulletin MPS) servo motors
  • MP-Series Medium-Inertia (Bulletin MPM) servo motors
  • MP-SeriesLow-Inertia (Bulletin MPL) servo motors
  • Kinetix TL-Series servo motors
  • KinetixRDD-SeriesDirect-Drive motors
  • Kinetix HPK-SeriesAsynchronous, High-power motors

6. Linear Servo Motors

Allen-Bradley linear servo motors are designed to provide excellent servo responsiveness and precise linear positioning in high-speed applications. They include the LDC-Series linear servo motors and the LDL-Series linear servo motors.

7. Linear Actuators

Rockwell Automation provides reliable Kinetix linear actuators that combine direct-drive technology, precision accuracy, peak thrust forces, high levels of velocity, and quick accelerations to help maximize machine performance and improve production quality standards. Available Allen-Bradley linear actuators include Integrated Linear Thrusters (Bulletin LDAT), MP- and VP-Series Electric Cylinders (Bulletin MPAR and VPAR, respectively), and MP-Series Electric Heavy-Duty Cylinders (Bulletin MPAI).

8. Integrated Stages

Allen-Bradley integrated stages are stage-type, high-precision linear actuators from Rockwell Automation, designed with a ball screw mechanism and linear motor technology. These actuators can support heavy linear loads and tolerate moment loads. They include MP-Series (Bulletin MPAS) Integrated Linear Stages and MP-Series (Bulletin MPMA) Integrated Multi-Axis Stages.

9. Operator Interfaces

Rockwell Automation provides a variety of Human-Machine Interface (HMI) and visualization solutions for smart manufacturing. Available Allen-Bradley operator interface terminals are classified as follows:

  • Graphic Terminals: These are rugged electronic operator interface solutions available in different input methods, sizes, configurations, and memory options. Graphic terminals are a combination of hardware, information software, and several communication protocols such as Ethernet/IP, DeviceNet, and ControlNet. Their robust build makes them ideal for use in harsh industrial environments characterized by extreme operating temperatures, high shock, and excessive vibration levels.
    • Available Allen-Bradley graphic terminals include PanelView 5000, PanelView 5510 (Bulletin 2715P), PanelView 5310 (Bulletin 2713P), PanelView Plus 7 (Bulletin 2711P), PanelView 800 (Bulletin 2711R), PanelView Plus 6 Compact (Bulletin 2711PC), PanelView Plus 6 (Bulletin 2711P).
  • Tethered Operator Terminals: These are the Tethered mobile devices (Bulletin 2711T)designed to provide increased operator productivity and a safe workplace environment.
  • Industrial Computers and Monitors: These are computers and monitorsdesigned for rugged industrial environments.

Note: There are many other industrial automation hardware products from Rockwell Automation under the Allen-Bradleybrand name, including:

  • Kinetix Cables equipped with SpeedTEC DIN connectors.
  • Control & Load Switches
  • Motor Control Contactors
  • Incremental and Absolute Encoders
  • Encoder Output Modules (Bulletin 2198)
  • Energy Monitoring products
  • Lighting Control Contactors
  • Embedded I/O modules
  • Chassis-Based I/O
  • Distributed I/O
  • Power Supply solutions
  • Relays and Timers
  • Safety Products
  • Sensors & Switches
  • Signal Conditioners
  • Network Security & Infrastructure
  • Push Buttons & Signaling Devices
  • Connection Devices, etc.

Industrial Applications of Allen Bradley Products

Allen-Bradley hardware and software automation solutions, integrated control systems, as well as information solutions, are built for demanding applications across multiple industries. Here are some of the common industrial applications of Allen-Bradley products:

  • Smart Aerospace manufacturing
  • Automation and smart control systems for the Automotive and Tire industries
  • Automation of cement plants
  • Chemical process control systems
  • Entertainment industry automation technologies for increasing safety, reliability, and profitability
  • Fiber and textiles manufacturing – automation and control of fiber & textile processing and production
  • Automation of food and beverage processing operations
  • Automation and control solutions for personal care and household industries
  • Ultra-modern solutions for the infrastructure industry
  • Marine automation systems
  • Automation solutions for metal processing
  • Automation and control solutions for advanced mining
  • Automation, control, and safety systems for the oil & gas industry
  • Power generation automation systems, such as SCADA, PlantPAx Distributed Control System (DCS), etc.
  • Automated printing and publishing – automation & control systems for printing equipment and machines
  • Automated water and wastewater control systems

This entry was posted on February 6th, 2023 and is filed under Uncategorized. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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