#Take control – with simulation
Automation engineers are all but obsessed with simulation – for good reason. Using simulation, you can streamline commissioning, optimize performance, and plan upgrades more efficiently than ever. And, what’s even better, a virtual environment for testing your automation project can be set up very easily – just look at how to do it with SIMATIC S7-1200 and SIMIT.
The integrated communication and technology features of the SIMATIC S7-1200 controller make it so versatile that you can feel overwhelmed by the options. So, why not use the SIMIT platform to try things out first and see what works best for you? You can test new set-ups, applications, and technologies with no risk in a realistic training environment. And you can do this after performing just six simple steps.
Step 1: Be prepared
OK, this might seem like cheating – but we just want to make sure. In order to test your PLC program with a digital twin, you need three elements:
- The PLC program (created in TIA Portal).
- The virtual PLC (using PLC-SIM, which is a TIA Portal option).
- The platform for the machine or process simulation (SIMIT).
So, before you start, you must have TIA Portal and SIMIT installed on your computer. Then you’re good to go.
Step 2: Create the simulation in SIMIT
To create a simulation, you can use either of two approaches. You can use real-life data for your machine or process unit and create a digital twin of your own (or maybe you already have one). Or, if you just want to test your program with a generic machine or process unit model, you can use one of the application examples from our Technical Support.
Step 3: Create the coupling folder in SIMIT
In order for SIMIT and TIA Portal to be able to exchange data, you need to couple the PLC program in TIA Portal with SIMIT. To do this, create a coupling folder in SIMIT and paste the TIA Portal project there to create an instance of the PLC program in SIMIT.
Step 4: Open the SIMIT project
Open your simulation in SIMIT, and then create the coupling that links the simulation in SIMIT with your PLC program. Just follow the steps in the “New coupling” wizard and make sure you check the box next to PLC-SIM S71200; then SIMIT will automatically create the instance for the S7-1200 (or other SIMATIC PLCs you want to try – just adapt the routine accordingly).
Step 5: Link tags in TIA Portal and SIMIT
In order to be able to access the PLC tags in the SIMIT simulation, TIA Portal and SIMIT need to share the same tag table. For this purpose, open your PLC project in TIA Portal and export the PLC tags for your machine or process unit, and then import this tag table to SIMIT. After that, you will be able to view all sensors and PLC variables in SIMIT.
Step 6: Start the simulation
And finally, you need to download the hardware configuration from your TIA Portal project into PLC-SIM to create an executable virtual PLC. And that’s it! Now, using SIMIT, you can watch how your PLC program performs in the simulation – for example, move a tray on a conveyor and trigger light barriers, change the belt speed, and trigger alarms – in a no-risk environment. Simple as that!
If it all sounds too good to be true, you can watch the following video to see for yourself.
Or, if you’d like more technical details, our Technical Support is the best place to start.
What else would you like to know about simulation with SIMATIC S7-1200 and SIMIT? Just let me know in the comments…