Blog post by Nick Hitchcock, Senior Electrical Engineer
Released earlier this year, Siemens’ new S7-1500S Software Controller is a virtualized PLC that runs on an industrial PLC. This PC-based automation can be programmed just like an S7-1500 PLC via TIA Portal. The benefits this new controller provides may be especially interesting to those looking for more options in a digitalized factory.
The soft controller runs on its own kernel, so it is independent of the Windows environment. That means, crucially, that if Windows crashes, the controller can still run. Rebooting the Windows environment is also possible without taking down the controller.
The soft controller offers the ODK (open development kit) 1500S package. The ODK provides a connection between the PLC and the windows world. C based applications can be developed in Windows and executed as a block of code on the PLC side.
One major benefit to this new option is that you can set up direct connections with databases. Typically, getting a PLC to communicate with a database requires either purpose built hardware appliances, or having an additional PC/server with middleware software running on it to set up a communication path. The additional layers can slow down or complicate communication. You can use the database (DB) connection for accessing recipe data or logging production data.
With the soft controller, you can communicate with Windows-based programs, get access to the windows file system among other possibilities. The soft controller can also integrate MATLAB or Simulink models within the PLC.
All of these capabilities are in addition to the typical S7-1500 abilities. If you’re familiar with TIA Portal, then this system will be just as familiar to you. You’ll have access to PROFINET and can access PROFIBUS, and other networks by installing cards in the PC. You can control any machine as you would with a standard PLC. It can run on SIMATIC IPC627D, IPC827D, IPC677D, IPC647D and IPC847D, or on the ET200sp Open Controller, which is an embedded PC in the ET200sp form factor. There is also the same fail-safe CPU version, so you can use it as a safety controller like any of Siemens’ F-CPUs.