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Design to commissioning within a single engineering framework

08 August 2013

Simon Keogh outlines the thinking behind Siemens' ‘Totally Integrated Automation' (TIA) Portal and highlights recent enhancements for TIA V12 that help illustrate why he believes it is the way forward for manufacturers tackling current and future industrial challenges.

Siemens' Totally Integrated Automation Portal (TIA Portal) offers a seamless approach to engineering, maintenance and commissioning tasks, all within a single engineering framework. As well as offering an estimated 30 percent saving in engineering time, it also prepares the foundations for future scale-ups and equips the user for what will inevitable be increasing complexity in manufacturing automation.

Optimising productivity, reducing time to market and creating more flexible production options are of central concern to manufacturers across all of its sectors, and most manufacturers acknowledge that the efficiencies and flexibilities delivered by sound investment in automation can help address some of these key issues.

Take one aspect, which affects automotive manufacturers in particular: demand for continual product innovation with shorter product lifecycles. This imposes considerable pressure on the manufacturer to achieve both flexible production schedules, as well as deliver products to market in the shortest possible time. And as global demand for products manufactured to customer specification grows, these pressures will only intensify, so manufacturers need to be prepared.

The TIA Portal was conceived on the basis that automation systems were most likely to lead the way in terms of generating production efficiencies. Siemens believes this portal is an ‘industry-first’ – essentially, a software engineering framework that allows users to complete the journey from product design and development through production planning, engineering and all operational stages, using a variety of tightly integrated software tools.

The portal’s development, in conjunction with new automation controller platforms released by Siemens in recent years, is based on studies of typical engineering applications, as well as the analysis and evaluation of customer requirements across all manufacturing sectors and all sizes of manufacturer, from OEM to large global enterprise.

A traditional problem most automation engineers have faced at one time or other in their careers is the integration of disparate control elements – particularly software packages – into a plant-wide .control system The TIA Portal tackles this fundamental issue by providing easy access to a centralised software engineering framework as a common user interface for all automation tasks.

Essentially, the Portal delivers a common engineering environment for configuring key elements of the control system, including PLCs, HMIs, drives and the SCADA system. Currently, PLCs, HMI devices and drives are covered within this framework; Siemens will be expanding the coverage to include its entire Totally Integrated Automation portfolio.

In order to maintain consistency across this broad equipment mix, support is provided by powerful libraries covering all automation objects. This allows users to develop and commission their automation systems quickly and intuitively, without the burdens associated with having to integrate separate software packages. The framework provides advanced shared services across all the configuration interfaces ensuring uniform navigation for the user and a consistent system ‘look and feel’.

As an example, all devices and networks in any automation system can be configured within one shared device and network editor. Project navigation, library concepts, data management, project storage, diagnostics and online functions are standard features and made available to the user in the shared TIA Portal framework. This unified software development environment delivers efficiencies across the overall automation project.

All data management for controller parameters, blocks, tags or messages only need to be entered once, saving time and money. With its object-oriented software architecture and centralised data management, the Portal ensures data consistency by flagging and correcting any data entry errors. Users can simply programme blocks across the entire automation project using a project-wide cross-referencing system, which greatly reduces the time needed to troubleshoot and debug a typical software project.

PLCs, HMIs and drives are configured in the same development environment. For example, the user can simply drag and drop a tag from a PLC - a signal from an I/O module, say – to the screen of an HMI device. The tag is instantly assigned within the HMI and a controller-HMI connection is created automatically in the background with no manual configuration required. Users can simply re-use HMI screens in WINCC SCADA without incurring any re-engineering time or cost.

Siemens recently extended the TIA Portal engineering framework with a variety of functions to improve its performance and security. All drives products from Siemens’ Sinamics G series can now be integrated into the Portal, as well as the new high-performance Simatic S7-1500 PLC; moreover, new security functions provide greater protection and enhanced security against third party manipulation such as replay attacks, and there are new arrangements for copy and access.

Simon Keogh is with Siemens Industry

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