How to Update a Siemens PLC without TIA Portal using the SIMATIC Automation Tool

How to Update a Siemens PLC without TIA Portal using the SIMATIC Automation Tool

DMC recently provided remote support for one of our customers. We made critical updates to their PLC code as they were commissioning their machine internationally.

Unfortunately, our client didn’t have TIA Portal software available at the time. They were afraid that this made it impossible to download the new version of the code to the PLC in the field.

Fortunately, Siemens offers the SIMATIC Automation Tool as a free download (just sign up for an account first) on their website. The SIMATIC Automation Tool was perfect for our client's situation. It allowed them to seamlessly download the updated PLC code and commission the machine on schedule. 

This blog will walk you through the entire process of downloading a new PLC program to an S7-1200 or S7-1500 CPU using the SIMATIC Automation Tool.

First, you will learn how to connect a computer to the same network as the PLC. I will then show you how to save the PLC program in a format that the SIMATIC Automation Tool can use. Next, I will walk through using the SIMATIC Automation Tool itself. Finally, I'll review some of the other capabilities of the SIMATIC Automation Tool. 

0. Connect your computer to the same network as the PLC

Connect an Ethernet cable directly from the S7-1200 or S7-1500 PLC to your computer. Next, set your computer’s IP address to be on the same network as the PLC. In order to do this, click the Start button and search for Network and Sharing Center. Open the Network and Sharing Center. On the left, there should be an option that says Change Adapter Settings. Click that.

Screenshot of changing adapter settings in network and sharing center

Now you should see a connection that says Ethernet or Local Area Connection. Double click on it.

Screenshot of clicking on local area connection

In the dialog box that opens, click Properties

Screenshot with properties button highlighted in local area connection status tab

In the next dialog box that comes up, there will be an option that says Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4). Double click on this option. 

Screenshot of selecting Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) option

In the next dialog box, select Use the Following IP Address. You need to enter an IP address that is on the same network as the PLC you are going to connect to.

This means the first three numbers of your computer’s IP Address must be the same as the first three numbers of the PLC’s IP Address. In this case, our PLC IP Address is, so we assign our computer to be In the subnet mask field, is typically used. Click ok.

Screenshot of IP Address and Subnet Mask field in internet protocol properties

1. Generate the S7S File using TIA Portal

In order to download to a PLC using the SIMATIC Automation Tool, you need the PLC program in an S7S File Format. Whoever wrote the PLC program should follow these steps using TIA Portal to generate the S7S File for you to use.

First, map a file directory on the TIA Portal computer to a Card Reader/USB Memory location. To do this, open the PLC project in TIA Portal and click Project -> Card Reader/USB Memory -> Add user-defined Card Reader:

Screenshot of adding user-defined card reader  

Select your desired file location in the dialog box that follows. 

Once you have mapped the Card Reader/USB Location, select the PLC in the project tree.

Screenshot of selecting PLC in project tree

Then click Project -> Card Reader/USB memory -> Write to memory card...

Screenshot of selecting writing to memory card from card reader/ USB memory

Select the file location you mapped earlier and press the green check mark.

Screenshot of selecting the file location that was mapped to

Click Load: 

Screenshot of clicking load in the portal

Send the resulting S7S File to the computer that is running SIMATIC Automation Tool.

2. Using the SIMATIC Automation Tool 

On the SIMATIC Automation Tool computer, save the S7S File in the following directory: 

C:\ProgramData\Siemens\SIMATIC Automation Tool\Programs

In our situation, DMC simply emailed the S7S file to our client and they saved it in the proper location on their computer. 

Now that your computer is connected to the same network as the PLC and the new program is saved in the correct location, launch the SIMATIC Automation Tool.

Scan for the PLC by clicking Network -> Scan

Screenshot of performing a scan in the SIMATIC Automation tool

If everything is configured correctly, you will find the PLC and the SIMATIC Automation Tool should look like this: 

Screenshot of correctly configured PLC and SIMATIC Automation Tool

Now select the Program Update Tab. In the Program Update area, open the dropdown and you should see the name of the folder that you saved the S7S File in. Select that: 

Screenshot of selecting program update in SIMATIC Automation Tool

Now check the box next to the PLC, and then select Network -> Download

Screenshot of selecting download under the network tab in the SIMATIC Automation Tool.

The program will take a minute or two to download to the PLC. Once it is done downloading, the PLC will be in STOP mode. To put the PLC back into RUN mode, select Network -> RUN.

Screenshot of selecting run under network in SIMATIC Automation Tool

The PLC should now be running the newest version of the program! 

3. Other Functions of the SIMATIC Automation Tool

According to the Siemens website, the SIMATIC Automation Tool can also perform the following functions: 

  • Assign addresses (IP, subnet, gateway) and station name (PROFINET device)

  • Set the time in a CPU to the current time in your PG/PC

  • Backup/Restore CPU data to/from a backup file (no failsafe)

  • Flash the lights on a CPU to help physically locate the CPU

  • Upload fault information from a CPU

  • Read the diagnostic log from a CPU

  • Reset a CPU to factory default settings

  • Update firmware in a CPU and attached modules

These functions make the SIMATIC Automation Tool a useful asset for any facility running an S7-1200 or S7-1500 PLC. It allows you to perform basic maintenance functions in a simple interface. 

Learn more about DMC's PLC Programming services and contact us to get started on your next PLC Programming project.


# shumon
I really enjoy your Then & Now posts!
This is invaluable information. Thank you very much for sharing. It can be very useful especially if the client has an earlier version of TIA, for example, if the PLC program is done in TIA v14 and the client has only V13 or V12
Daniel Mwangi
# Daniel Mwangi
Thank you for sharing. This is invaluable information, offering solutions to problems encountered in the field. It could help a lot in a situation where the PLC has been programmed using a later version of TIA like say V14 and the client has V12 or V13.

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