Graphic Development Tool Graphic Tool Provides New Options for the Project Engineer
Time is money when developing process projects – but lengthy training periods are often not possible on smaller projects. A new graphic development tool with intuitive operation makes engineering work easier for project engineers, thus saving valuable development time.
Project engineers today are often under huge competitive pressure and need to increase their efficiency in order to be successful in the market more quickly. No time is budgeted for lengthy familiarisation periods, especially in the case of small projects with short throughput times. It is often necessary to oversee a number of different systems with different operating concepts. What’s more, customers demand individual adjustments for their own processes. In order to be able to master such demanding tasks, powerful “process engineering tools” are becoming increasingly more important, both in plant engineering and the automation industry — a fact that is also borne out by the latest research studies.
Overview thanks to full graphics
The PR1750/60 graphic development tool from Sartorius with its full graphic display and drag-and-drop technology is ground-breaking. PR1750, the proven professional programming tool specially designed for weighing and batching applications, has been significantly improved by the addition of a new, fully graphic editor. The programme routine is easily generated in a predetermined graphic structure by adding action modules using drag-and-drop — even beginners and occasional programmers with no knowledge of syntax rules can handle it. Programme sequences such as if-then-else structures or loops are placed graphically in the correct position in the programme and filled later with function blocks. A variety of standard functions is available — specially designed for weighing and batching applications. Parameters and texts are entered on the graphic object directly or via tabs. Even database functions with a number of tables can be implemented graphically. The graphic display and mode of operation support the programmer in generating the programme, thus increasing the quality of the software design. Moreover, engineering times are shortened and easier to plan, resulting in a reduction of the risks associated with project running times and budgets.
Integrated simulation saves time
The fully graphic development environment also supports the developer in problem analysis and leads to rapid troubleshooting in the event of a fault. This proves particularly helpful if the programme has been compiled by another programmer. It also supports integrated simulation whereby a controller’s inputs and outputs are emulated on the PC — and not only during troubleshooting.
Simple modelling and powerful simulation are increasingly important in designing production routines. Thus customer wishes can be presented and verified before programmes are loaded into the controller and tested in the field. By simulating their routines, users can then test and optimise special operating sequences by means of a shortened, iterative development process — easily on the PC with no need for inconvenient (expensive) installations of controllers and devices. The configuration of the (emulated) controller is automatically transferred and checked for consistency with the functions used, whereby inputs and outputs as well as displays and operator inputs are visualised in the process.
Automatic project generation
For larger projects, or to incorporate additional tasks, the programme code of a complete IEC-compliant project can be generated automatically from the full graphics. An intelligent interface between the graphic user interface and the professional IEC61131-compliant programming tool generates the corresponding programme code in “structure text”, one of the standard programming languages provided by this tool. In addition, a complete project structure is generated such that more demanding tasks can be realised in the professional programming environment of the PR1750. Even professional users make use of this functionality to save time when beginning a project, because it is easier to generate an IEC-compliant project automatically from the graphics than to do this manually in a blank project editor.
Comprehensive debugging and diagnostic functions are available in both the fully graphic programming interface and the IEC-compliant development environment and allow convenient operation during testing and troubleshooting. The consistent block structure, presentation of functionality in action blocks with descriptive notes for meaningful identification and easily understandable tabs for inputting parameters are elements of the fully graphic programming interface, by means of which visualisation of the programme is, in principle, “self-documenting”. The graphic programme structures can be printed out for the project file. Customer-specific project documentation can also be produced with the aid of the programming tool.
Conclusion: In modern, flexible production equipment it must be possible to react quickly to changes. A high degree of transparency and reliability is achieved through innovative programme maintenance.
The author is Product Manager for Process Weighing & Control at Sartorius Hamburg GmbH.