One topic often debated is why there is a cost on automation programming software?
Automation programming software is an expensive tool and is cleverly licensed so each installation needs its own product key, but why should there be a cost for this tool?
As a PLC programmer keeping up to date with the amount of revisions and different packages is a real headache especially when the next job is un-known. I am sure that PLC programming software is expensive to develop in comparison to the units sold, but does it really justify the cost? Not forgetting it is only compatible with the hardware you bought from the manufacturer in the first place. In my opinion yes! And for two reasons:
1. To keep hardware costs down
2. Product testing and development
Hardware costs are already expensive leading to people under specifying components that limit the future expansion and development capabilities of a system. Adding additional costs would deter people from choosing the correct components or upgrading altogether, as a PLC Programmer this is never a good thing.
Having used free software on a series of HMI’s I would rather pay for a correctly developed and tested product. A few years ago I was asked to integrate a touch screen into an application at minimal cost, which ruled out the major players and a cheaper alternative was found with FREE programming software, a cost passed onto the end user. The amount of development time to give the simplest of tasks was phenomenal, and most standard HMI functions were transferred to the PLC controller, with purchased software.
So everything is fine then, well no! There are a lot of changes the big manufacturers should do to promote their product, and are starting to do as system integrator, and partnership programs appear but they are not available to all and are very sales driven.
Firstly when selling a piece of software offer guaranteed upgrades for a least five years and secondly only release developments when they are truly ready otherwise well all move the free stuff and learn to live with its weaknesses.