A High-Confidence Platform, Extending from Sensors to Servers
In the age of globalized production, industrial automation technology gives manufacturers a competitive edge. Siemens and Microsoft have teamed up to envision a factory production line that uses the latest Windows Embedded technology. Using Siemens industrial automation products running Windows Embedded operating systems, this Proof of Concept (POC) demonstrates end-to-end enterprise connectivity—from data collecting sensors and smart devices on factory floors, to server-based business intelligence applications in IT datacenters. Business benefits for manufacturers include process transparency from material ordering to goods delivery, continual production process optimization, and increased overall factory productivity.
Industrial automation is rapidly evolving as information technology drives new levels of efficiency and productivity across the entire value added chain of manufacturers – from product design and development to production, sales, and maintenance services.
Seeking to more clearly envision a highly efficient factory floor, Microsoft turned to a long-time partner, the Siemens Industry Automation Division, a worldwide leader in the fields of automation systems, industrial controls, and industrial software.
The Siemens industrial automation portfolio ranges from standard products for the manufacturing and process industries to solutions for whole industrial sectors that encompass the automation of entire automobile production facilities and chemical plants.
Thinking about customer business and technical requirements, Microsoft and Siemens engineers came together to conceptualize how information could travel from the factory floor to the IT center and back again, creating a beneficial feedback loop that optimizes production resources.
From their drawing boards came an innovative Proof of Concept (POC) that connects a wide range of factory floor technologies, from sensors to servers, enabling new levels of efficiency and productivity.
The Siemens-Microsoft industrial automation POC, which made its global debut at HANNOVER MESSE 2010, features familiar production line stations such as Enterprise Management, Materials Inbound Logistics, Assembly Line, and Quality Assurance (see Figure 1).
Users can follow the progress of a customer order from station to station, as it is processed, assembled, and tested. Other user scenarios include Product Lifecycle Management, Safety, Traceability, and Green IT. A mobile handheld device roams and displays the screen of whichever station is nearby.
The entire system runs on Siemens industrial automation products that include different SIMATIC IPC models, such as 19” Rack PCs, Box PCs, embedded PCs, the modular embedded Controller S7-mEC, Mobile Panels, Flat Panel monitors and the failsafe Software PLC SIMATIC WinAC RTX F.
||We are captivated by the endless possibilities that the new Windows Embedded technologies offer. We can’t wait to discuss with industrial users their requirements in using these new possibilities with the next generation of our industrial PCs or HMI and control software.
Marketing & Promotion Manager SIMATIC PC-based Automation,
Windows Embedded operating systems used for the POC include: Windows Embedded Standard 7 for the specialized devices; Windows Embedded Enterprise for enterprise-class equipment; Windows Embedded CE for the handheld terminal, and Windows Embedded Server for the industrial server appliances.
Windows Embedded operating systems and Siemens industrial automation systems deliver important business benefits to global manufacturers, including enterprise connectivity, endless possibilities for innovation, and reliability.
At the heart of the POC is an end-to-end enterprise connectivity architecture that spans from production line sensors to IT datacenter servers. Real-time access to factory floor data from enterprise applications allows for continuous production process optimization and increases in overall factory productivity.
Connecting the supply chain to the factory floor allows for manufacturing process transparency from material ordering, to energy consumption, to goods delivery. Direct data flow also reduces the need for human intervention, which can help minimize production delays.
The POC uses Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) to connect between devices, devices to servers, and to remote Microsoft Silverlight-based User Interfaces. WCF provides an open standard protocol that allows end customers to connect these devices to legacy and other existing systems.
The industrial automation POC demonstrates endless possibilities of differentiated experiences built with innovative Windows technologies. For example, immersive technologies, such as high fidelity 3D graphics and Natural User Interfaces (NUI), increase the engagement of workers, helping them to be more productive.
The POC features a modern NUI design, based on Windows Touch, which includes multi touch functionality and gestures, and provides new input paradigms for login, screen/object manipulation, navigation, and operation.
This more realistic-looking interface design optimizes the training time for factory workers, increases the accuracy of user interaction with machines, and reduces downtime due to human error.
A prototype widescreen flat panel monitor with ten-finger multi touch display, provided by Siemens, allows a fascinating “touch and feel” impression of this visionary NUI.
Additionally, Microsoft Silverlight 4.0 can “remote” any screen to any device using Windows Embedded Standard 7 or Windows 7 desktop operating systems, making it easier to work productively anywhere, anytime.
Ergonomic light sensors and proximity/motion detection with cameras provide better security (logins are “photographed”) and enable green-IT scenarios by turning off unused devices if no one is standing in front of them.
||This innovative vision of the factory production line clearly demonstrates how manufacturers can use Siemens industrial automation and Microsoft Windows Embedded technologies to achieve higher levels of productivity and create a greener, safer working environment.
Another innovative Microsoft technology, Profile for Web Services (DPWS) allows for dynamic auto-discovery and zero-configuration. This reduces the setup and re-configuration time of factories so they can adapt quicker to changing market demands.
A Solid Foundation Based on Familiar Technologies
The POC gives manufacturers confidence by leveraging the high performance and reliability of the Windows Embedded platform and Siemens industrial automation systems.
For example, as a robust and dependable operating system for all PC-based industrial automation devices, Windows Embedded Standard 7 increases the flexibility and reliability of the complete production line system.
Moreover, safe and secure communication, based on standard web service protocols, enables easy connectivity between existing legacy systems and modern factory devices, while still supporting firewalls, encryption, and real-time networking.
From the manufacturer’s perspective, using Windows Embedded from sensors to servers increases the reusability of existing applications and reduces the need to integrate a multitude of hybrid solutions from different vendors.
Keywords: Industrial Automation; Control/Automation