Make your engineering processes more efficient by exchanging, instead of recreating, data used by different engineering systems
In a typical automation project, electrical planning data is created three times in different systems at different stages of the project.
During the sales phase, a sales engineer will create the controls configuration in a planning tool like the TIA Selection Tool. This information is used to prepare a proposal for the customer and create a budget for the project.
During the planning phase, an electrical engineer recreates this controls configuration in an electrical engineering tool like EPlan Electric P8. The electrical engineer supplements the original device selection with information like IO symbols and network configuration.
Finally, a controls engineer recreates the configuration in an automation engineering tool like TIA Portal.
At each stage, work is duplicated and there is a chance of a copy-paste error being introduced into the project.
The process is wasteful and error-prone. So, how can we improve the exchange of data between various systems used in an automation project?
The Automation Markup Language (AML) standard was developed specifically to facilitate the exchange of data between various engineering systems. The AML standard is supported by the major engineering tools that you use on your automation projects like the TIA Selection Tool, EPlan Electric P8, and TIA Portal.
In this article, I'll show you how easy it is to exchange data between these tools using AML files. Any OEM can easily adapt this workflow to improve the quality of their deliverables and make their engineering processes more efficient.
During the sales phase of a project, an initial controls configuration for a machine is created in the TIA Selection Tool. The TIA Selection Tool is a free planning tool, created by Siemens Automation, to help create BOMs for automation projects.
In the TIA Selection Tool, I have created a basic controls configuration for a machine including an S7–1500 controller, an ET200AL distributed IO module, and a SITOP power supply.
When the configuration is complete in the TIA Selection Tool, I can export the configuration as an AML file. To do that, I click on Project > Export > TIA Portal or ECAD systems.
In the Export to TIA Portal or ECAD system dialog box, I specify that I’m exporting this configuration for an ECAD system.
Finally, I specify the location on my machine to export the configuration to.
When I navigate to the location on my machine, I see that an AML file has been created.
Now I can launch EPlan Electric P8 and use the Import menu to import the AML file.
The devices that we created in the TIA Selection Tool are imported to the EPlan Project.
We can drag and drop these devices onto the Rack sheet to create the Rack Layout for the machine.
On the Bus page, we can create the network configuration for our machine. Once again, we drag and drop the devices onto the sheet and use the EPlan connection tool to interconnect the S7–1500 and the ET200AL.
Finally, we can configure the properties of the individual ports of the devices in our project by double-clicking on a port. In the port configuration dialog, we specify the Network, Bus Master, and Bus Address of the device.
The same configuration is carried out on the ET200AL module.
If we wanted, we could do further engineering in EPlan including assigning symbols to the individual I/O in the machine.
For this example, we’ll leave the electrical engineering here and export the configuration from EPlan to a new AML file. You can do this using the Export menu item in EPlan.
In TIA Portal, we can import the AML file from EPlan using Tools > Import CAx Data.
TIA Portal reads the details from the AML file and automatically creates the devices in our Devices and Networks view as well as the interconnections between them.
If we had specified symbolic names for the I/O in the machine, these would be automatically added to the project as well.
At the end of the project, the project data can be exported from TIA Portal to an AML file and imported back to EPlan ensuring that the as-built data is correctly captured in the electrical drawings.
By using modern tools OEMs can make their engineering processes more efficient and improve the quality of their projects.
In this example, we learned how to work with AML files to eliminate duplicated work and copy-paste mistakes at different stages of a project.
This is one example of how OEMs can use process improvement and digitalization to reduce costs, increase quality, and grow profit margins. At KB Controls, we work with OEMs to grow their profitability through systematization, standardization, and digitalization. Contact us today to book a free consultation call where we explore how you can become more profitable by using these tools.
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