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The Secret to Improving Your Business Performance: Totally Integrated Automation

Factory automation systems have evolved from the islands of automation of the 1980s to integrated control systems of today. Only Totally Integrated Automation from Siemens takes integration to a new level with a suite of automation products that use core intelligence from the inside out to fit together seamlessly.

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While many automation companies provide products that control individual parts of the manufacturing process, and a few have stitched many such products into systems that span the entire process, only Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) goes from shop floor to top floor with a completely harmonized homogeneous architecture. Instead of just piecing together system components from the outside in by building bridges between existing automation islands as most integrated control systems claim, TIA is designed from the inside out beginning with core intelligence built into modules at the machine-automation level, and carried consistently through the plant-wide automation system to achieve complete, seamless integration.

TIA doesn’t just link together parts of a manufacturing process, it goes further by linking together automation components inside each machine module, such as by providing a transparent link from the I/O device, to the I/O card, to the device network, to the Controllers, to the HMI. By carrying such standards consistently out to the highest automation levels, TIA doesn’t just link islands of automation, it eliminates them, making the resulting automation a homogeneous system engineered in a single software environment instead of a patchwork of hardware and software packages.

Improving business performance with an Integrated Control System

Integrated control systems can help any manufacturing operation improve its business performance, whether it is discrete automation like assembling automobiles, or a continuous process like refining oil. Many benefits accrue from integrating a company’s islands of automation, the most important are:
•    Improved production transparency
•    Reduced downtime
•    Reduced process integration costs
•    Lowered total cost of ownership (TCO)

Improved Production Transparency is critical for controlling costs and maintaining peak process performance. When management’s view of process activity becomes murky, the ability to determine causes of performance issue drops off. Processes begin to drift, while output, quality and efficiency erode. And, nobody knows why. Integrated control systems that help managers see clearly into production-process activity are critical to maintaining world-class operations.

Reduced Downtime comes from timely maintenance of automation equipment and being able to quickly recognize and respond to issues as they happen. Overloaded, aging, and under-maintained equipment breaks down more often, and takes longer and costs more to fix if not protected by state-of-the-art predictive maintenance programs based on integrated system and process diagnostics. Such programs are ineffective, however, without rapid and thorough condition monitoring made possible through integrated control systems.

Reduced Process Integration Costs go straight to a company’s bottom line. To maintain their competitive edge, world-class manufacturing companies constantly update and upgrade their production equipment. Integrated automation reduces these upgrade costs by speeding up and simplifying the effort needed to bring replacement equipment online. Not only does speeding up the integration of replacement hardware and software provide direct cost savings, more importantly it cuts the indirect opportunity cost of lost production time. The same integration-cost advantages are available when rearranging or revamping production process flows, even if the same equipment and systems are employed.

Lowered Total Cost of Ownership is the goal of every smart management team. They know that original equipment purchase prices, and even installation expenses, are a fraction of the cost structure for any production system. While capital costs spike at the start of every installation project, expenses to operate and maintain production equipment over decades of operational life often dwarf these capital costs. The positive effects of integrated control systems improve production costs throughout the equipment’s useful life—even minimizing decommissioning and replacement costs at the back end. In fact, since integrated automation is really a factory-wide system; it improves TCO of the entire factory.

From island to integrated

If these business drivers described above are important to you, an integrated control system will help you achieve them. After you identify the need for an integrated control system, the difficult next step is to choose the right one. Many automation suppliers claim their solution for an integrated control systems tie together islands of automation into a complete automated production system. The difference is in the approach.

Most integrated control systems are the result of an outside-in development process. Historically, industrial automation technology is the convergence of development efforts by numerous computer-control technology programs scattered through a broad spectrum of automation-technology companies. Various experts designed technology to automate different parts of the industrial-production environment.

Most vendors’ integrated control systems offerings have been assembled using this outside-in process. Vendors assembled systems by acquiring components developed by different R&D departments internally or externally developed by other companies through licensing, acquisition, or marketing agreements, and combining them with their own internally developed products to stitch together patchwork integrated control system offerings.

These products work, but adapting them to a particular customer’s needs, and modifying them as those needs evolve is difficult, due mostly to the difficulty of trying to force often incompatible bottom-level components to work together. The resulting architectures are complex, data communications paths tend to be torturous, and visibility through the enterprise is murky at best. The problem is that developing systems from the outside in—bringing together different components developed by different teams for different purposes, then trying to stitch them together by making ad hoc interfaces—cannot produce an efficient industrial automation system.

Total integration requires integrating with a core intelligence from the inside out.
The solution is to start with a central core system that provides basic resources needed by nearly all enterprises, and dock additional resources onto that core to provide the customization needed to fit the resulting system exactly to the individual customer's needs. This is the inside-out development process Siemens Energy and Automation used to create its Totally Integrated Automation system. TIA starts with a core, which is designed and tested and is used for all products. Products work together from the inside-out instead of just being patched together. Rather than bridging dissimilar islands of automation, TIA automation just naturally fits together.

Siemens system engineers applied the tried-and-true strategy of designing from the top down and implementing from the bottom up when developing TIA. That is, they started by working out the system’s modular architecture and setting standards for modules, including quality, performance, and interface protocols. This architecture must apply to both software and hardware modules to allow integrating truly seamless systems. Modules were developed from the bottom up to meet TIA standards. The result is total integration. This TIA characteristic helps in two ways: it simplifies the initial system-integration process; and it makes later upgrading easier to accomplish.

Consistent standards, top to bottom

For control system integration to be most effective, automation standards and practices should be consistent from the top plant-wide levels right down to the bottom control loop in each machine. This is, of course, difficult to achieve when patching together islands of automation.

TIA capitalizes on Siemens history of quality automation products. Comprising over 100,000 models, Siemens’ TIA products have been proven over 15 years in the field. These resources combine to make implementing a manufacturing facility’s TIA infrastructure as straightforward as possible. System integrators can “keep eyes on the prize” and concentrate on producing an infrastructure tailored for the individual facility’s needs, rather than on overcoming available products’ incompatibilities and limitations found in conventional systems.

TIA’s core resources fall under the headings of Engineering, Communication, Diagnostics, Safety, Security, and Ruggedness. TIA presents an integrated engineering environment based on international, multi-vendor standards with flexible options for combination, such as PROFIBUS (the world’s leading fieldbus), PROFINET (the open Industrial Ethernet Standard), AS-Interface, etc. The single engineering environment allows for engineering a complete system including controllers, HMIs, drives, networking, and distributed I/O. TIA offers diagnostic functions for quick detection and efficient clearing of possible faults, promoting greater system availability. Compared to conventional safety technology, the integrated safety solution saves considerable cabling overhead and space, and greatly reduces installation and commissioning time. Scalable IT security mechanisms, including access protection, user administration, firewall, virtual private network (VPN) and other elements, offer the necessary security for production and data with minimal administrative expense. A system can only be regarded as high quality if every individual component offers quality and ruggedness where needed. All components, from connectors at the field level to industry-standard PCs at the operations level, are resilient.

TIA is the basis for consistent automation of your entire production line, from incoming materials to outgoing products. This end-to-end integration makes an essential contribution to the company-wide optimization of production processes in both discrete and process industries. Integration in engineering, communication, and data management offers a wealth of advantages at every stage of the life cycle, from the first planning steps through installation and commissioning, operation and maintenance, to subsequent expansions and modernizations.

Adopting Totally Integrated Automation is an investment in maximum engineering efficiency yielding an enormous potential for saving time and money.

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