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14 April, 2024

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First ‘virtual PLC’ will allow software-based automation

14 April, 2023

Siemens is presenting a virtual PLC (programmable logic controller) for the first time at the 2023 Hannover Messe. The Simatic S7-1500V is designed to meet special requirements such as the virtual hosting of PLC computing. In future, Siemens plans to offer virtual PLCs alongside its traditional hardware controllers.

The virtual PLC is part of Siemens’ new Industrial Operations X portfolio for production engineering, execution and optimisation, which forms part of its Xcelerator open digital business platform.

The virtual controller will allow users to apply proven functions from Siemens’ S7-1500 hardware controllers in the digital world. No specific hardware is needed to run the virtual PLC. Industrial edge management technologies will make it possible to manage the virtual controller and other applications centrally and adapt them flexibly to user needs.

Siemens argues that this data-centred and software-based approach to automation will allow users to respond more flexibly. “If the service specialists are not in the factory at a given moment, they will be sent a diagnostic message to say the controller has stopped, for example,” explains Efrossini Tsouchnika, Siemens’ vice-president for controls. “The industrial edge management system gives them the ability to access the virtual controller remotely. That means they can get the plant running again with no obstacles to action.”

Siemens says that the virtual controller will make PLC projects easier to scale, while its open data interfaces mean they can be integrated easily with other IT offerings. The virtual PLC is compatible with Siemens’ TIA portfolio, allowing the re-use of projects and data already in the TIA Portal, thus cutting costs.

Siemens’ first virtual PLC is based on the functions of a S7-1500 hardware PLC

With the Simatic S7-1500V, users can continue to implement their trusted structures while benefiting from the advantages of an IT-oriented environment. IT specialists can also work in a familiar environment using the digital controller. Siemens suggests that this will simplify collaboration between automation engineers and software users in the IT field, and advance the fusion of these two environments.

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