Digital engineering: Plant engineers gain new tool that joins electrical, mechanical data

Siemens Simatic Automation Designer software is said to simplify processes from project planning to virtual commissioning. Learn more; listen to podcast.


Factory automation generates a lot of data that needs to be shared, and historically mechanical and electrical engineers have used different tools. The concept of digital engineering envisions a single environment where users of manufacturing data speak the same language. Siemens Energy and Automation has released Simatic Automation Designer, software that joins electrical and mechanical data, and exports it to third-party targets including PLCs.

Going beyond product lifecycle management (PLM) into the realm of process design, the software is a data bridge, repository and library that links product design tools with automation and production design tools to enable quicker machine design and commissioning.

With Simatic Automation Designer , “the electrical engineer sees exactly what the mechanical engineer does,” says Wolfgang Schloegl, project manager. In a new , Schloegl describes how the software brings together electrical and mechanical data in an “intelligent library.” He also explains how tasks– ranging from process planning (linking the data with a graphical layout of the plant) to automatic code generation for a variety of Siemens and third-party target systems – are enabled and automated in such digital engineering environments.

Simatic Automation Designer enables the modularization of projects into structured subfunctions. Source: Siemens Energy and Automation

The software enables the modularization of projects into structured subfunctions, which means proven specifications can be defined as a standard and stored for reuse, as well as faster system integration. Users create project libraries for specific functions, customers or industries with data imported from a variety of sources: parts lists, MS Excel files, 2D and 3D AutoCAD layouts, and process design/factory automation tools like Tecnomatix Process Designer and Process Simulate, for example. Code generators then create programming code for systems including Siemens Simatic S7, Simatic WinCC, Siemens, Rockwell Automation PLCs and others that support a text-based import/export interface, ePLAN electrical design (eCAD) software, report generators and more.

Initially released for testing in 2006 with limited functionality, the software has been in field test with several customers outside the automotive and aerospace industries, where users have been early adopters of such PLM software. Simatic Automation Designer is targeting discrete manufacturers involved in conveyer technology, machine building, and food and beverage processing, says Schloegl.

– Edited by Renee Robbins , senior editor
Control Engineering News Desk
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