Siemens Shows New Controls, Automation Solutions
By Patrick Waurzyniak
Showcasing its automotive engineering expertise, Siemens Industry Inc. (Norcross, GA) outlined some of its latest new PLCs, automation software, advanced networking, and digital manufacturing solutions during its Manufacturing in America Symposium’s Automotive Summit event held yesterday at Ford Field in Detroit.
With the introduction of the new Simatic S7-1500 PLC, Siemens detailed its roadmap for the company’s updated PLC controller line, which features a faster backplane on the S7-1500 for higher performance, a color display, and integrated safety features. Along with the S7-1500 PLCs, which will be shown at Hannover Fair in April, Siemens demonstrated its updated Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) Portal that offers users object-oriented programming with a new real-time trace function, security tools and system diagnostics, said Jim Wilmot, product manager, Simatic controllers, Siemens Industry Inc., Industrial Automation Division.
Siemens spends about $4.5 billion annually in R&D globally on automation, with many new innovations coming from software, said Rich Parkhurst, automation consultant, Siemens Factory Automation. Siemens currently has about 7000 US employees working in R&D, he added, while spending about $1.3 billion a year in the US on automation R&D. “Starting with software, the idea with the TIA Portal is to create one integrated engineering framework,” Parkhurst said. “It contains all the programming for PLCs, HMI, networking, and now drives.”
The new TIA Portal Version 12 also has added the real-time trace function that eases the commissioning of factory floor equipment. The software features improvements to its editor, allowing easy drag-and-drop capabilities when editing PLC ladder diagrams, noted Colm Gavin, product marketing manager, Engineering Software, Industry Automation Division. The system allows programmers to drag and drop between PLCs and HMIs, enabling users to automatically update re-wiring and cross-referencing elements on the fly, Gavin said.
In his “Making the Transition from Fieldbus to Ethernet” presentation, Ming Ng, Profinet technology manager, Siemens Factory Automation, said automotive customers have a lot to gain from switching to the latest Ethernet/Profinet implementations. “When you look at Ethernet, it is the single most impactful technology driving innovation in manufacturing today,” said Ng, adding an estimated 50 billion people will be connected to the Internet by 2020. Ethernet in industrial automation applications counted about 15 million notes in 2008, and that figure is forecast to hit 51.4 million by 2014, Ming noted. Ethernet holds significant speed and reach advantages over Fieldbus, he added, and supports wireless technology. “The bottom line is Ethernet is positioned to support all these devices,” Ng said. “Once you use Ethernet on the plant floor, you’ll never go back to Fieldbus.”
Lean and sustainable manufacturing goals can greatly benefit from digital manufacturing technologies, said Thomas Hoffman, director, Digital Manufacturing Global Marketing, Siemens PLM Software (Plano, TX), in a presentation on the company’s Tecnomatix suite of digital manufacturing solutions. With Tecnomatix’ Process Designer, Process Simulate and virtual commissioning software tools, automotive users can greatly improve factory planning and management, factory-floor simulations and dimensional quality, he noted. “Is quality really a manufacturing engineering type of thing? We think it is,” Hoffman said.
Key Tecnomatix capabilities include its human simulation and ergonomics features, where users can use the Jack and Jill humans to accurately simulate workers performing manual assembly processes on the factory floor well in advance of production. The Tecnomatix software today features five or six databases of anthropomorphic models that include some 69 joints of the human body, Hoffman said, enabling designers to greatly improve the efficiency of manual assembly processes.
Contact Senior EditorPatrick Waurzyniak: firstname.lastname@example.org.