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New-generation controls mark ‘a huge step in performance’

12 February, 2013

Siemens believes that its new generation of industrial controllers and automation software could boost its share of the UK industrial controls market by about 10%. The S7-1500 PLCs, and version 12 of Siemens’ TIA (Totally Integrated Automation) Portal software, which made their debuts at the recent SPS/IPC/Drives show in Germany, are now available in the UK.

Simon Keogh (above), head of Siemens’ automation business in the UK, says that the new ranges represent “a huge step in performance”. He describes the Simatic S7-1500 as “a controller family for the next generation of medium to high-end machine and plant automation”.

The S7-1500 uses a fast backplane bus and offers terminal-to-terminal response times of less than 500µs as well as command times that can be less than 10ns. Built-in motion control functions allow analogue and Profidrive-compatible drives (including those from third parties) to be connected without needing extra modules. The controllers can handle up to 16 axes, depending on the CPU. PLCopen-compatible blocks simplify the connection of Profidrive-compatible drives.

In the wake of the Stuxnet malware which targeted vulnerabilities in earlier Siemens controllers, the company has implemented tough security measures in the new range. These include functions that protect against unauthorised access and modification. Memory cards with individual blocks linked to the serial numbers of the original card ensure that programs run only with the configured card and cannot be copied.

One example of the thought that has gone into the design of the new controllers is that each module carries a QR 2D code which users can scan with a smartphone to download appropriate manuals and other documentation.

The new controllers are being launched in phases. Initially, the portfolio consists of three medium-performance CPUs, each also available in a failsafe version. The PLCs differ in the number of interfaces, bit performance and the size of their displays and data memory. Up to 32 expansion modules can be added for functions such as communications and I/O.

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