Process Control System Version Upgrade of a Field-Proven Control System
Vendors of process control systems strive to make their systems not only increasingly powerful, but also more user-friendly. This is an ongoing challenge, given the increasing complexity of today’s processes and the extensive range of tasks. The diverse user groups of control systems have different requirements here when it comes to topics like user-friendliness, performance, or efficiency.
The application areas and tasks of process control systems have been expanding continuously. Starting with the control and monitoring of centralized production processes, their capabilities have grown to include such tasks as controlling connected processes, handling energy management, or supporting maintenance teams. The expectations of individual user groups are just as diverse as these tasks: Configuring engineers, operators, and plant managers each have different priorities in using control systems.
In developing the latest version of the Simatic PCS 7 process control system, the developers at Siemens ensured more efficient engineering, more user-friendly working, as well as — especially for plant managers — increased performance.
More Efficient Engineering
Simulation is an indispensable aid in shortening project times and thus in reducing project costs: The simulation framework Simit, also used for virtual commissioning of Simatic-based automation solutions, allows more efficient engineering of the system. By simulating process behavior, the correct functioning of the automation system can be ensured, within the framework of a factory acceptance test (FAT), for example.
The new selective loading of program codes into the automation systems is also aimed at significantly reducing commissioning times. This new feature allows configuring engineers to upload only the modifications they have made themselves. Until now only complete programs could be loaded. Transferring individual changes reduces the uploading time on one hand, and on the other, commissioning can be much more flexible and significantly more effective. This results in lower costs, fewer errors, and increased operational reliability.
Not only do individual tasks become more effective, but also the engineering system in its entirety: One way in which this is ensured is with “multi-user operator station engineering”, which minimizes the coordination effort between the individual configuring teams for large-scale projects. When working in parallel on operating screens, configuring engineers until now had to keep manual modification logs, so that all changes were taken into account, and results were not mutually overwritten. With the new version, there is no need for this coordination, and errors are minimized.
The user-friendliness of the system was a priority in the development activities for Version 8.1 of Simatic PCS 7. More on the next page.