Siemens starts-up Simotion system in North America

Norcross, GA—The complex dynamics of motion control, simply implemented-that's the con-cept behind Simotion Motion Control System from Siemens, which made its North American debut here at the end of September 2002.


Currently, two hardware platforms complement software elements of Simotion Control System-controller-based C230-2 (foreground) and PC-based P-350.

Norcross, GA- The complex dynamics of motion control, simply implemented-that's the concept behind Simotion Motion Control System from Siemens , which made its North American debut here at the end of September 2002. Ease of use is conveyed straight from Simotion's logo-a spinning top, child's toy.

Simotion is a product family that merges motion control, logic and special control technologies into one hardware/software system. Included in the system are such special technologies as temperature and pressure control, which are useful in the design of hydraulic and pneumatic motion systems.

Intended for automating production machinery, Simotion provides solutions for machine builders needing a high level of motion control in their automation systems, according to Tom Kopanski, vp and gm of Siemens Energy & Automation 's Automation and Motion division. Introduction of Simotion in the U.S. is part of Siemens' stated transition from a highly technology-centric company to a provider of customer-centric solutions characterized by ease of use.

"Simotion's U.S. introduction is part of a `controlled release' that has taken some time to complete to ensure that the necessary support structure was in place," says Armin Huger, motion control manager at Siemens E&A. Available in Europe for some time, Simotion has undergone substantial beta testing and select customer evaluation in the U.S.

Three part system
Simotion consists of three parts, two software elements and a hardware element:

  • Engineering system -used to configure and program applications that will operate within the run-time system. This element, called Scout, incorporates a system configuration tool for drive design and commissioning, a project manager tool, and program editors. Initially, editors are available for structured text (IEC 61131-3 compliant) and Siemens' Motion Control Chart (MCC), which is a graphical programming editor. Other types of program editors will follow.

  • Run-time (or operating) system -provides logic control, closed-loop speed control, I/O handling and communication capabilities. This element permits the installation of function libraries with wide motion-control capabilities, and, at a higher level, provides the ability to write programs and applications. Modular run-time system is scalable for

  • Multiple hardware platforms -for greatest flexibility, three platforms will be offered. Currently, two hardware platforms are available: controller-based Simotion C and PC-based Simotion P. A third drive-based platform for decentralized control will follow later.

The controller-based version, designated C230-2, takes the form factor of a Simatic S7-300, but contains a different CPU and operating system. It can interface with up to four drives using analog inputs; and has 18 digital inputs and eight digital outputs, two Profibus ports (links to HMI and drives), and an Ethernet port as standard.

Simotion P350 is the PC-based version with a Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 operating system. It contains a 500-MHz processor, soon to be upgraded to a 1.2 GHz Pentium 3. Actually, there is a second operating system, Simotion kernel, which shares the processor and acts as a backup to Windows NT in case of need. Standard features include 128-MB RAM, 10-GB hard drive, and a Motion Control Interface card with two Profibus ports.

Simotion is part of Siemens' Totally Integrated Automation solution, as well as being fully compatible with Simatic products.

Intuitive, scalable software
In Simotion Scout, the intuitive Microsoft Windows project Navigator offers a sophisticated help menu, self-guided wizards, and graphical programming with flow chart or ladder logic languages, explains Derrick Fisher, Simotion's product manager.

Programming is simplified by numerous icons on the tool bar. One click on an icon inserts a command into the program, while double clicking the command block brings up a dialog box into which command parameters can be entered. A Monitoring Tool can trace up to eight variables, which can be standard or self-defined.

MCC, the graphical editor within the engineering system, can program, test, and document full machine sequences. It's also used to track program flow online.

In the run-time system, OEMs can create application-specific libraries to handle applications, such as "winders" and "cut-to-length," alongside existing motion control and technological libraries. Other software modules, such as position, gear and cam functions, are loaded as needed from the motion-control library.

According to Mr. Fisher, Simotion offers flexibility, scalability, and only one software package to learn. "The single-system design of Simotion helps speed ramp-up time and makes troubleshooting easier," he says, "because programming and troubleshooting one software package is more efficient than working with numerous ones."

He points to several features of the Scout engineering system that make it comfortable for novice users to

Meeting industry trends
Mr. Fisher explains that Simotion meets several of the overall trends ongoing in motion control, which include mechatronics, usability and standards. Mechatronics-the combination of mechanical, electrical, and IT concepts-is addressed by Simotion's motion control, logic and special technology functions integrated in the same system. As for usability, a uniform intuitive graphical interface and various editors ease configuration and programming tasks for end-users and OEMs. For example, there is a text dialog box for entering variable information, and two input methods, either tabular or equations, are available for working with cam data.

Standards such as IEC 61131-3 and PLCopen for Motion Control are incorporated into Simotion's software. Use of OMAC guidelines is also mentioned. Such standards are becoming increasingly important to machine builders and end-users.

While Simotion focuses on integrating Siemens' motion technology, the system also is said to work with third-party products, as long as they can communicate with Profibus. However, at this point there are no plans to incorporate DeviceNet or other networks into the system. Siemens considers the 2 ms cycle time of Profibus sufficient for the system communication needs of 80-85% of motion applications.

User benefits of Simotion, according to Siemens, include flexibility, scalability to specific applications, and supportive software tools that speed up motion control implementation. Compact, modular machine solutions executed with reduced cost and shorter design cycles are the typical results.

"Simotion was a huge project for us to launch in the U.S.," adds Mr. Huger.

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Frank J. Bartos, executive editor

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