By Gary Mintchell
Siemens US held its Automation Summit June 24-26 in Orlando. Anton Huber, Siemens AG CEO of the Industry Automation Division discussed the digital revolution and Industry 4.0. Amid the challenges of accelerating time to market, competitive pressure to continuously reduce costs, and attaining higher levels of quality the complexity of manufacturing increases. “Only through seamless support by software tools can the ever increasing complexity of industrial value add processes be managed safely and professionally,” he concluded.
During a pre-conference press event, Disney personnel discussed the company’s eight-year relationship with Siemens. Specifically, we were briefed on the controls and software used on the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride. The system must keep track of vehicles and maintain separation. The PLC is at the heart of the system, then VFDs for vehicle management. Operator Interface incorporates WinCC. Each vehicle has a unique number, so the operator can see the location of each vehicle. Profinet is the communication backbone.
Next, we toured the Iron Bridge Regional Water Reclamation Program, City of Orlando. Siemens provides the controls and electrical for this wastewater treatment and water reclamation plant. The 15 process areas each have an S7-300 PLC with WinCC HMI and a Siemens variable frequency drive (VFD) and/or soft start motor control. The WinCC system is configured to also provide a view into the city’s other two plants. One reason for the selection of WinCC was its interface to SQL Server rather than using its own version of SQL. One byproduct of the automation project was reduction of operators per shift from 16 to 2. While that sounds negative on the surface, it alleviates the very difficult task of recruiting operators.
Another aspect of application connectivity with WinCC is the feature of right-clicking a component and going directly to a maintenance system—the ability to view or generate work orders or go to the CMMS system.. This is all based on everyone using standard Microsoft SQLServer.
Digital technology continues to provide a foundation for improved performance—whether industrial or entertainment.