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Integrated automation software ushers in `new era`

15 December, 2010

Siemens’ Industry Automation Division has unveiled a software engineering environment that can be used to configure all devices and networks in an automation system. The company says that the Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) Portal will enable users to develop and commission automation systems quickly and intuitively, without the costly and time-consuming need to integrate separate software packages.

According to Siemens Industry Automation division CEO Anton Huber (above), TIA Portal promises “a previously unattainable level of user benefit and efficiency”. Speaking at the system’s launch during the recent SPS/IPC/Drives show in Germany, Huber said it will allow users to move forward into “a whole new era of modern engineering”. He predicted that it will allow them to “sharpen their competitive edge, and to speed up the time-to-market for their products”.

The TIA Portal will form the basis of all future systems for engineering, programming and commissioning Siemens automation devices and drive systems.

Initially, it includes new versions (v11) of the Step 7 software for Simatic S7-300, -400 and -1200 controllers, and WinCC for HMI and PC-based Scada visualisation applications. It can be extended by adding extra packages such as the new StartDrive v11 engineering software for Sinamics drives.

The unified framework will allow all Siemens PLCs, HMIs and drives to be configured in the same development environment, cutting the costs of interfacing and configuring communications. For example, users will simply drag-and-drop a tag from a PLC, such as an I/O module signal, to the HMI screen. The tag will be assigned instantly within the HMI, and a controller-HMI connection created automatically with no manual configuration.

Existing controller and HMI configurations can be transferred to new software projects, cutting the time and cost of software migration.

The Portal is based on the original TIA concept launched in 1996. In 2005, Siemens started to look at the next step – improving workflows – and three years later it introduced its first workflow-oriented software. For the past year, more than 20,000 users of S7-1200 controllers and Basic Panel HMIs has been using modules from the new framework.

♦  According to Huber, Siemens’ Industry Automation division has seen a significant increase in business during the past year. Its fourth-quarter profits of €334m represent a 61% year-on-year increase, while revenue rose by 21% and new orders by 25%. For fiscal 2010 as a whole, new orders rose by 15% to €6.421bn, revenue rose by 8% to €6.226bn and profits by 54% to €1.048bn. Huber says that Siemens maintained its r&d expenditure during the 2009 recession.

For more news from the SPS/IPC/Drives Show, see our detailed report.

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