At the SPS/IPC/Drives Show in Nuremberg, Germany last week, Siemens unveiled a new software approach for the company. Known as the TIA (Totally Integrated Automation) Portal, this new software release currently comprises Step 7 version 11 and WinCC version 11 releases. According to Siemens, the TIA Portal will be made available in the first quarter of 2011.The main driver behind the development of the TIA Portal is to integrate product and production engineering via one interface, said Anton Huber, CEO of Siemens AG. With TIA Portal, we can “basically link all our automation software packages and platforms with one interface,” he added.
The first obvious difference to the TIA Portal is its use of a graphical drag-and-drop style interface versus Step 7’s familiar tree structure. When initially designing a system, a user will select from one of four currently available categories from which to select system components. The four categories at present include “Devices and Networks,” “PLC Programming,” “Visualization,” and “Online & Diagnostics.” Categories for motors, drives and controls will be added soon.
In a demonstration of the software led by Matthew Thornton, world marketing manager for the S7-1200, he showed how a user would first select a PLC from the “Devices & Networks” category to serve as the base of a system to be designed. Upon selecting a specific PLC, subsequent I/O options are then presented based on the PLC chosen. “Only relevant component options are shown,” said Thornton, “but preconfigured modules can be added to the library for selection too.”
Once the PLC device is chosen, selecting the IEC language with which to program it is done via a drag-and-drop from the PLC Programming category, which auto-populates as needed throughout the design schematic in the TIA Portal.
HMI devices are likewise chosen from the “Visualization” category and are added to the system by dragging and dropping onto the schematic once the specific HMI device is chosen. Again, based on the previously selected PLC and networking configurations, only relevant HMI selections are presented as viable options. “Once the HMI device is dropped onto the screen, the TIA Portal automatically creates the connection between the PLC, the network and the HMI with all appropriate tags applied,” said Thornton.
After building the system virtually in the TIA Portal, end users can deploy the design in real life by downloading the TIA Portal design into a field computer to upload the information into the actual devices in the system.
Thornton added that the TIA Portal is already configured to work with fail safe options. If a fail-safe device is selected from the menu, the subsequently presented options are fail-safe as well to ensure to a complete fail-safe design.
As for TIA Portal’s compatibility with non-Siemens devices, Thornton said that the linchpin around devices used in the system is the communication network. “Any device can be input and configured into the TIA Portal library as long as it is a device that works with Profibus or Profinet,” he said.
Huber characterized the creation of the TIA Portal as a logical progression in Siemens’ evolution from a pure hardware-oriented company during 1970 to 1995 when it focused on creating devices such as PLCs, HMIs and drives with no support for common project context or data consistency, to a function-oriented outlook from 1995 to 2010 where the company focused on creating common software components and device compatibility strategies, to the current “customer-oriented workflow” approach with TIA Portal featuring drag-and-drop workflows, a single source of information leveraging a common library of hardware and software elements, and centralized security functions.
During his presentation, Huber claimed that TIA Portal end-users can save up to 45% in engineering and commissioning costs.