With the advancement of microprocessors and automation technology, the lines between programmable logic controller (PLC) and distributed control systems (DCS) have blurred. It is more difficult than ever for process manufacturers to select the best technology for their application. Siemens SIMATIC PCS7 is more than a DCS as it provides the functionality of a PLC and a DCS at the same time. The open architecture of the SIMATIC PCS7 process control system enables full integration of all automation systems in a production plant: process manufacturing, batch manufacturing, discrete manufacturing and safety manufacturing, and all field devices; instrumentation, analytics, motors, drives, and safety on a single platform, with common tools for engineering, visualization, and asset and maintenance management across the facility.
What’s the PCS7 like
The unique PCS7 platform essentially consists of step7-equivalent software tools for engineering model S7-400 PLCs and SCADA systems for monitoring and control running WinCC. These software extensions come in the form of function libraries and software tools that are used to create a high-level software solution that, when compiled, runs on the same hardware platform as a traditional PLC. PLC and scada software are tightly integrated and much of the scada functionality is automatically generated based on the content of the PLC program. From a development point of view, there are predefined, tested, validated, and standardized libraries used to optimize system engineering and validations. It should be noted that very little or sometimes no low-level programming is required. Development time is reduced thanks to the software library and the fact that much of the monitoring functionality is generated automatically. From a security point of view, hardware and software redundancy is fully supported by PCS7. Standardizing much of the control logic can reduce the time/cost ratio for a new engineer who is part of and understands an existing project. There can even be significant cost savings from systems with high redundancy or duplicate hardware and processes.
SIMATIC PCS7 was developed more than 20 years ago specifically for continuous process control applications. PCS7 integrates step7 and uses Win CC to provide a PLC-SCADA solution for control, monitoring and data acquisition for a process environment. In general, the types of projects that get the most out of PCS7 tend to be in the chemical, energy, public services, food and beverage and pharmaceutical sectors.