Retrofitting Ethernet Connectivity to Simatic S5 | Automation.com

Retrofitting Ethernet Connectivity to Simatic S5

One of the largest manufacturers of tobacco products, initiated a project with the goal of increasing the productivity in one of its manufacturing plants. Within this plant 40 production lines run simultaneously and produce approx. 12,000 cigarettes per minute.

During the initial investigation phase it became apparent that an information gap exited between the production and management levels. A project team was formed to close this gap in order to provide real-time production data to the MES system. The availability of this data facilitates the fine-tuning of the manufacturing process.

Early on, the project team standardized on TCP/IP over Ethernet as the preferred communication channel between the IT world and the production lines. However, with this decision the team inherited the task of connecting all 40 production lines, each being controlled by up-to 8 Simatic S5 PLCs, via Ethernet to the MES system.

One obvious approach to achieve this goal is to accompany each S5 PLC with one Ethernet Communication Processor (CP). However, this approach was quickly ruled out for the following reasons:
1. Since 2003 Siemens has gradually phased out the S5 PLC family making it increasingly difficult and expensive to obtain S5 components.
2. If an S5 rack is already fully configured an S5 expansion rack must be used to add an Ethernet CP.
3. Finally, when adding a CP it is unavoidable not to make changes to the existing PLC program. This includes, shutting down productions, loading the new PLC application, and testing; all-in-all, a very expensive approach.

The project team explored alternative solutions and decided on INAT's Echolink. Echolink is a serial to Ethernet converter that allows serial devices without a network interface, to communicate over Ethernet. Echolink supports multiple types of serial interfaces: RS232, RS422, RS485, TTY (20 mA), MPI, or PPI.

The main advantages of the Echolink products are
  • no need for an additional CP
  • no need for any program changes in the PLC (the commands necessary to read/write the PLC data are configured within Echolink!)
  • in addition, Echolink supports all transport and application protocols necessary to allow programming and data access over Ethernet

    At the tobacco producer’s factory, 80 Echolink devices (2 devices per production line) are used to connect Simatic S5 PLCs using the PLC-native serial port. Each Echolink provides Ethernet connectivity for up-to five PLCs simultaneously. The process data is collected over Ethernet using OPC technology. INAT's scalable OPC Server supports all application protocols necessary to communicate seamlessly with PLCs from Siemens (S5 and S7), Rockwell Automation, Mitsubishi, and Schneider Electric.

    The 80 Echolink devices and the OPC Servers were installed and configured without interrupting the production process.

    About Softing
    In industrial automation, Softing is a specialist for fieldbus technology and has established itself as a world-leading partner for networking automation systems and control solutions. Softing provides customers the key technology to connect devices, controls and systems with the leading communication technologies. In fieldbus technology, Softing is a world-class expert for FOUNDATION fieldbus, PROFIBUS, and CAN/CANopen/DeviceNet. The company’s wide range of expertise includes solutions for OPC, FDT, and Real-Time-Ethernet protocols such as, PROFINET IO, EtherNet/IP, or Modbus/TCP. Many of the products and services developed by Softing since the company was founded in 1979 have become reference standards throughout the world. In addition, Softing has established itself as a provider of sophisticated diagnostic tools for fieldbus systems.
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