Intelligent tools for efficient configuration

In the life cycle of an automation solution, engineering costs make up as much as 50% of the total costs. If you want to significantly lower costs, you will need simple and efficient tools for configuring – and intuitive operator prompting. SIMATIC WinCC provides both.

Configuration without dead ends

Time-saving configuration means: delegating tasks. SIMATIC WinCC supports the project engineer with wizards for routine tasks. One example is the device wizard: The most important settings can be configured right when the device is being created. User-defined settings can be saved and imported directly when creating another device. There is no need for redefining. This allows you to ensure that all of the devices of a production line have the same basic configuration and are identical in appearance.

Often a comparable WinCC project already exists and a great deal of it can be imported. Even if it has been designed for other target devices, this does not mean that the configuration must be started from the beginning, because the configuration is freely scalable. In the machine-level area, the target HMI device can be easily switched via the device switch-over. The system provides detailed information about any functions that might be different and detailed specifications for adapting the configurations. Thanks to the uniform engineering system, from the panel to the SCADA, it is also possible to import data for WinCC Runtime Professional. System expansions and thus project adaptations can be carried out with a minimum of outlay.

Configuration with helpful details

Engineering time is expensive and yet it is often wasted on time-consuming detailed work. User-friendly functions, like the familiar ones from special graphics software, effectively support and speed up the creation of precise, visually appealing HMI screens. The graphics editor allows, for example, the alignment and positioning of screen objects by means of adjustable grids, snaplines that can be hidden or shown, functions such as horizontal and vertical centering, or the even distribution and alignment with adjacent objects. There are no more time-consuming manual pixel corrections.

The WinCC "Screens" editor supports configuration in 32 screen layers. For complex screens involving several overlaid objects, individual levels can be hidden to provide a clearer overview. To this end, all layers with the screen objects they contain are clearly displayed in the "Layout" task card. The editor gives you the capability of conveniently moving the objects between the layers at a central point. The layer assignments in the object's properties are updated automatically. Of course, this also applies to grouped objects. Individual objects can be conveniently removed from the group, added, detached, and moved by means of dragging and dropping. The grouping of any screen objects facilitates working with many individual elements. All properties of grouped objects are displayed at the group can can be changed there without ungrouping the group.

Configuring the dynamic way

It has long been known that animations and dynamic objects are not a gimmick, but rather they are an effective means of improving the operating ergonomics. The speed with which operators react to almost self-explanatory visual stimuli, such as color changes or the fading in/out of objects, is considerably faster than any interpretation of a text message and it greatly reduces the risk of misinterpretation.

A side-effect which must not be underestimated: The translation costs for multi-language configurations are reduced with each image. The increasing quality and resolution of the displays on HMI devices and improved performance result in new capabilities of integrating more complex animations. WinCC accomplishes the creation of dynamic objects in minimal time. No programming knowledge is required. For many standard tasks in Runtime, pre-defined functions can be easily selected by means of drag and drop. If the requirements are very individualized, dynamization can also be implemented on the basis of integrated VB scripts.

Configuring with tables

Automation tasks can generally be grouped into different focal points, for which there are special input screens. Editors for creating screens, the alarm system, the tag management, the blocks, the device configuration, etc. At many points in the TIA Portal, there are table-based editors, which give the user a quick and simple overview. The immediate mastering of editors, even at first glance, thanks to their uniform appearance, the simultaneous changing of many objects, and even the simple copying of properties inevitably increase the efficiency. Well-known office functions are available in the TIA Portal for conveniently and quickly configuring mass data.

An example: You can intelligently create hundreds of tags with only one movement of the mouse. Either the properties are retained, object names are adapted, or addresses are increased automatically.

In doing this, each editor supports the implementation of an individual special task, e.g. the alarm editor for configuring alarms. Cross-relationships between the individual editors are often difficult to track. As a result of this, an object-oriented approach was chosen for the WinCC tag editor. In addition to the configuration of the tags, a determination can also be made as to whether this tag should initiate an alarm and the logging of it. This not only helps the first time you create a project, but it also helps later by providing a quick overview of existing configurations.