Efficiency Boost in Production Automation
Planning and realizing industrial automation systems has just been made simpler and more efficient thanks to a new engineering framework from Siemens. The TIA (Totally Integrated Automation) Portal makes it possible for developers to save time on all conceivable automation tasks in industrial manufacturing. This is because it enables them to uniformly conceive complete facilities—from the controller to the operator interface—instead of having to process every task using that task’s own tools.
Siemens Industry Automation has tested and refined the TIA Portal in conjunction with pilot customers for two years. The operation, which is especially user-friendly, was designed on the basis of customer feedback. Usability experts from Siemens Corporate Technology participated in the work from the initial concept all the way to implementation.
The software’s strength reveals itself in, for example, an automobile production line. This is because the conception of such a line incorporates a large number of tasks: The working steps of all of the robots are planned, motors for the belts and machines are distributed and controlled, sensors are set up, or suitable operating elements and displays are developed. At present, developers use separate applications for every one of these units. They have to learn how to use each software package, maintain data consistency, and ensure that all of the components work together at the end of the day.
The TIA Portal takes on all of this work. The developers can accomplish all of the tasks via a uniform interface and maintain data or libraries centrally. Changes are automatically transferred to the entire project. Practical tests have shown that this results in fewer subsequent corrections. The TIA Portal is designed in such a way that new users can learn to operate it quickly and intuitively. The user is led through the individual working steps in a task-oriented manner.
Siemens is now adapting additional development programs—so-called engineering tools—for the TIA Portal. Tools for programming controls and configuring operation and display elements as well as drives are already available. The TIA Portal is the logical development of the Totally Integrated Automation concept. For almost 15 years, Siemens has been using the concept to make all the components of a manufacturing system compatible. By observing how customers work over several years, the usability experts were able to make the Portal as close to reality as possible. (IN 2011.02.5)