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Small, but perfectly formed

02 August 2010

Siemens has advanced its micro automation offering with the launch of the new Simatic S7-1200 modular compact controller family. Combined with the Simatic HMI Basic panel and Step 7 Basic engineering support software, the new controller offers compact, seamlessly networked automation for small-footprint machines and industrial processes

While machines and industrial processes may have become more complex in terms of their function and operation, it is probably true to say that they have become smaller, taking up far less factory space than their predecessors. Moreover, as engineering departments continue to dwindle, machine and process operators want simplified integration features that make configuration simple without compromising performance.

Machines and processes that offer more functions and greater flexibility from smaller footprints pose a particular challenge to automation vendors: how to keep the engineering compact, simple and affordable, while still delivering the power that industry now expects from its automation hardware. A solution to this problem is ‘micro automation’ – systems that offer increased functionality, faster processing speeds as well as engineering and system networking capability all within a compact format.

Siemens’ new Simatic S7-1200 controller was conceived with these aims in mind, and it lies at the heart of the company’s approach to micro automation. Working seamlessly in combination with the Simatic range of HMI Basic panels and the Simatic Step 7 Basic engineering system, it brings wide functionality and operator ease-of-use to satisfy some key user demands – including quantifiable cost savings in terms of lower maintenance and system support.
Hardware and software
Modular and compact, the S7-1200 is a scalable system featuring an integrated ProfiNet industrial Ethernet interface providing connection to the Step 7 basic engineering programming system and the HMI basic. Additional facility is provided for PLC-to-PLC communication, including communication with third party devices. The S7-1200 can be used to count the pulse outputs of incremental encoders or undertake the high-speed counting of process events, in order to control speed, position or duty cycle.

The Simatic HMI Basic panels provide both visualisation and operator input, as well as connectivity to the S7-1200 controllers and the necessary interface to the Step 7 engineering environment. Various touch screens and panel size options are available to meet application requirements and environmental conditions.

Step 7 Basic is a task–orientated, user-friendly software package that enables the micro automation application to be configured. Intuitive editors, drag-and-drop functionality and many other tools form the basis of a common engineering framework that is flexible enough to support a wide range of automation tasks. It can be used to programme and modify the S7-1200 controller and configure the visualisation panels, providing seamless integrated automation as well as essential maintenance and troubleshooting features.

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