Text Annika Pellmann ––– Photography
When controlling goods and passenger flows, a range of factors must be considered to make sure everything goes to plan. The same demand for a good infrastructure also applies to streams of data. Expanding such streams is the aim behind linking Eplan Electric P8 and the TIA Portal Engineering Framework from Siemens.
The Eplan TIA Portal Connection and TIA Portal Openness enable reciprocal data communications between the two worlds of electrical and automation engineering. Users can process and reconcile data at every stage of a given project. Eplan Electric P8 circuit diagrams, PLC overviews, hardware configurations and network installations are the kind of data intended for automatic generation via this new link. “Hardware configurations, bus data and symbolic addresses are needed in electrical and automation engineering alike. Why should you then have to enter such information twice, when you can benefit from having it all together?” explains Dieter Pesch, Head of Research and Development at Eplan, outlining the idea behind linking Eplan Electric P8 with the Siemens TIA Portal. The link enables an end-to-end exchange of detailed data when carrying out engineering tasks on automation systems.
With the reciprocal TIA Portal Connection from Eplan, data is imported into or exported out of both worlds, i.e. automation and electrical engineering. The relevant data can be easily exchanged between the different workstations of electrical engineers and PLC programmers. Both are free to choose when they want to use the other’s data or provide the other with their own data. This enables a controlled exchange of information, even for self-contained preparatory tasks, and is key for monitoring processes.
“At the planning and implementation stages of this joint project, we collaborated closely with Siemens on a regular basis,” explains Pesch. “This allowed us to create a common basis.” As such, TIA Portal Connection was based on Automation Markup Language – a modern, neutral and universal format for data exchange to IEC 62424/IEC 62714 that Pesch describes as “a technology that is evolving into one of the standards in automation.”
Electrical engineers save time when they begin planning in Eplan Electric P8, as data no longer needs to be entered manually. Data initially generated in the TIA Portal is imported into Eplan Electric P8. Data transferred automatically or using the drag-and-drop function forms the basis for the produced circuit diagram. It is exactly this process that takes over manual planning tasks from the electrical engineer. Another practical advantage is that there is no possibility of misunderstandings between the different disciplines.
As a result, automation components are quicker to develop and produced in outstanding quality. Users can exchange PLC data at any stage of a project and in any direction. Later editing and reconciling the data isn’t a problem, either. Performing complex, often repetitive manual reconciliations is therefore easier in the event of changes or iterations. Users benefit from transparent overviews of the configuration of the PLC assemblies, which can be processed with the help of the system. The outcome is an optimum, interdisciplinary engineering process.
A powerful partnership
There is another advantage to linking the two worlds – in the Eplan Data Portal, Siemens provides product data that can also be accessed in the Siemens Industry Mall and via the CAx Download Manager. “Our common goal is to achieve first-class data quality and thus help engineers and PLC programmers to save time,” says Dr Norbert Neubauer from the Digital Factory Division at Siemens.
The TIA Selection Tool can also be linked with Eplan Electric P8, which allows hardware configurations for PLC systems or even orders to be carried out. Configurations, for instance, can be performed in the TIA Selection Tool and then directly transferred into the circuit diagrams via Eplan Electric P8. If the user begins configuring hardware in Eplan Electric P8, the data can be validated via the TIA Selection Tool and subsequently transferred seamlessly to the TIA Portal.
Eplan and Siemens have worked together closely for many years with the aim of combining electrical engineering with PLC programming. Applications such as the TIA Portal and Eplan use exactly the same basic data. “Users therefore profit from high-quality data and planning. Even mechatronic working processes are simplified,” reports Neubauer.