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Integrated automation solution benefits

02 December 2014

Control Engineering Europe spoke to Carsten Meier, marketing manager TIA Portal, Siemens AG, Digital Factory Division, to find out what benefits TIA Portal can offer users today, and in the future.

There is a requirement today for manufacturing companies to continuously boost efficiency, shorten time to market for new products and enhance manufacturing flexibility to ensure that international competitiveness is maintained. 

Software tools have a central role in helping them meet these demands because the value chain - from product design to production and service – needs to be digitally mapped and consistently networked.

Future requirements, such as the integrated digitalisation of value-chain steps, can only be fulfilled through the use of intelligent interaction of systems. Carsten Meier believes that this is only possible through the use of a common data model across the tool chain. “For Siemens, TIA Portal - the integrated engineering framework for controllers, HMI and drives - is a very important step toward achieving this consistency and common data storage. Engineering tasks that were once separate are now united in one tool,” he said.

A common database
According to Meier, a basic prerequisite for efficient engineering is a common database and a user interface based on standard operator control. “Both are consistently implemented in TIA Portal for all automation components, for controllers, operator panels, distributed I/Os, motion control and safety applications. This enables users to work efficiently throughout the automation process, from engineering to service.”

TIA Portal offers numerous other functions to facilitate working efficiencies for users, including the library concept and integrated system diagnosis.

The library concept offers individual program blocks and hardware configurations including parameter assignment, variable declaration, and even screens in HMI devices. The library can be used by the whole project team and throughout a company. All library contents can be versioned so that users always work with the most up-to-date versions of blocks. “These features greatly contribute to increased efficiency of engineering and plant operation,” said Meier.  

“The system diagnosis function is integrated into the hardware components (Simatic S7-1200/S7-1500 controllers) and the TIA Portal, permits fast and efficient troubleshooting during system operation. The user can access the complete hardware diagnosis functionality of the controllers. So, for example, in the event of a wire break the fault is displayed on the controller, the HMI device, and the integrated Web server of TIA Portal. All of this is done with only a few clicks, without any need to write even one line of program code,” said Meier.

Explaining how TIA Portal can be integrated into a legacy system which may include third party instruments and controls, and what benefits it can offer in such a situation, Meier said: “These questions typically crop up in relation to a system expansion project and it pays off here to rely on open communication standards such as Profibus and Profinet. Existing system components can then be connected to new components configured with TIA Portal. 

“Many older Simatic components, which are still frequently found in existing systems, can be programmed directly in TIA Portal. Third-party devices can also be interfaced with the aid of the open Profibus and Profinet communication standards, and so can also be addressed from TIA Portal.”

With the latest version of TIA Portal, the controller portfolio of the SIMATIC S7-1500 has been completed. Of course, all controllers are available as failsafe variants. There is also a new addition to the SIMATIC ET200 distributed I/O family. The new SIMATIC ET200AL, featuring IP65/IP67 protection, offers robust I/O for easy installation everywhere. Today, almost every application can be realised with SIMATIC hardware and TIA Portal. Users can now also create their own styles for system visualisation. 

“We will continue to further develop TIA Portal,” said Meier. “In the next version, the focus will be on complete integration of drive components into TIA Portal. This will allow users to configure and tailor all Sinamics drives completely inside TIA Portal. Operation of TIA Portal through scripting interfaces (openness) will also be made available, including innovative features in engineering for controllers and operator panels. The individual product families will also be extended with a range of standard and failsafe devices.”

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