Integrated Software Simplifies Complex Machines

Dec. 12, 2002
Motion Control Reference Guide
Simotion incorporates logic, motion control, and functions such as temperature and pneumatic control in a single, integrated system. Hardware platforms include controllers, PCs, and drives.

A general trend in machine design is toward more-complex equipment that runs faster and performs more tasks with higher precision. At the same time engineers are under the gun to design them faster while cutting costs. Siemens, Alpharetta, Ga. (, is addressing these seemingly disparate goals with a new family of machine controls. Simotion incorporates motion control, logic, and functions such as temperature and pneumatic control in a single, integrated system.

"What makes Simotion innovative," says Tom Kopanski, vice president of Siemens Automation and Motion Div.," is that all the necessary control functions to automate a machine are in one system." No longer do machine builders have to overcome the expensive technological hurdles involved with integrating different makes and models of drives and controls into a working system, he says. This saves machine builders considerable engineering time and frees them to concentrate on their core competence, he adds.

A motion-control system that integrates peripherals and drives is said to make it easier to optimize motion sequences. This lets engineers get the most from the machine while cutting costs and speeding delivery. An integrated system also makes it possible to create many different machine variations from relatively few modules. Modular designs are more easily adapted to customers' requirements, and they, too, speed machine commissioning.

Another advantage is scalability. Simotion's basic capabilities are logic control and speed regulation. Other software modules such as position, gear, and cam functions are loaded as needed from a motion-control library, and machine builders and retrofitters have the flexibility to write their own application-specific programs as needed.

"Machine builders and OEMs can make motion control with Simotion as sophisticated or simple as they want," says Derrick Fisher, Simotion product manager. "We start with a basic core software module. By adding custom or Siemens standard software modules as needed, it is possible to build libraries that can be used with PCs, controllers, or drives." And the same operating system runs on all hardware platforms, which "gives machine builders greater flexibility than ever before," he says.

"The single-system design of Simotion helps speed ramp-up time and makes troubleshooting easier because programming and troubleshooting in one package is more efficient than working with numerous ones," adds Fisher.

The system will also benefit end users, he says. When different components and software packages are used to tackle different motion-control tasks, a small modification often means new hardware, a new design, and additional engineering and configuring time. An integrated system, says Fisher, often lets users program changes without modifying hardware.

Siemens estimates Simotion will save 10% of the machine cost and as much as 20% during operation.Simotion is configured and programmed with Siemens Scout engineering software. In addition to having standard IEC 1131-3 compliant interfaces, Scout provides Motion Control Chart (MCC), a graphical editor for programming sequential and motion programs. Scout offers self-guided wizards and text dialog menus to aid configuration.

Simotion is intended for complex motion-control applications, including packaging, printing, plastics, textiles, and presses. The U.S. market for such systems is approximately $1 billion, which Siemens expects to grow at an average annual rate of more than 5%. For more information, visit

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