Tools & Technologies

By Hunter Burney

Simatic PCS 7 offers intuitive plant management and efficient plant engineering. 

Responding to the rising demand for automation

The demand for automation in industry is increasing.

For example, according to, "The global automation market in the chemicals and petrochemicals industry is expected to register positive growth during the forecast period due to capital and R&D investments in developing and implementing automation solutions."

Many practitioners in related industries did not need this quote to confirm what they know to be true in their current environment, but it underscores the global need for improved automation solutions. Additionally, expectations continue to rise as capabilities improve.

Siemens recognizes that and now has released version 8.2 of its Simatic PCS 7 process control system. It delivers new functionalities to meet the rising demand for improved automation solutions in process plant control. The update provides a convenient, efficient and effective solution for plant engineers and operators.

Particularly in the world of processing chemicals and fluid products, the requirements for close monitoring and tight process control are extensive, and timing is often delicate. The intuitive nature of the control system makes a big impact on the execution, something Siemens has identified and responded to. The new version 8.2 has a range of new features that provide a better experience for the end user as well as the engineer providing support.

This new version delivers the needed connections from the plant process all the way through to maintenance, a communication channel that is often difficult to maintain. Through networked and reliable plant monitoring, it provides a stable and efficient operating environment. For example, web systems can now be operated, in addition to being observed, over the plant intranet and the internet. Further, operators can use extensive configuration possibilities under secure and individual control modules.

Simatic PCS 7 continues using mobile terminals with this new version, allowing alarms, trends and process characteristics to be viewed on smartphones and tablets. Facilities that have not upgraded to communicating through smartphones and tablets will now have more incentive and capability to do so.

Simatic PDM (Process Device Manager) supports plantwide access to field services, which is critical for successful troubleshooting, along with routine maintenance. Mobile terminals can perform anything from diagnosis to maintenance to configuration to commissioning.

Improved functionality for the operator is highlighted by the measuring point browser. This is a special browser embedded to allow operators an accelerated search for measuring points with relevant plant information.

For support staffers such as engineers who will evaluate and analyze trends and execute projects, mass data engineering is now more capable and efficient. And in terms of support, Siemens has created options for industry-specific add-ons in addition to their continued technical support for various software platforms.

Hunter Burney is vice president of manufacturing for Morrison Industries. He earned his B.S. in industrial engineering and is a member of the IISE Young Professionals group.