Manufacturing Automation & Intelligence

Extending S7 PLC Through WinAC

Hi, my name is Alex Krejcie and I'm a Project Engineer here at DMC. I'm also a Siemens Certified Professional. And today we’re going to be talking about the Siemens WinAC platform and we’re going to talk about how by adopting this platform we can extend the capabilities of a standard S7 PLC, and adapt to a bunch of new technologies, and advantages that you normally wouldn't have using a standard PLC.

So the thing to take away from this whole discussion is that if your PC can do it, so can your PLC. So normally when I think of a PLC, I think of a cabinet, I think of a bunch of wiring, a rack, an IO. When I think of a PC, I think of my desktop computer at home, checking my email, going on the internet, playing video games. And so when you ask what is WinAC? WinAC is really having your cake and eating it, too. It's just a PC with a PLC at the heart. 

So what are the features of this? What are the advantages that we get from going to this platform? We have several different form factors that we can deploy this in. So we can... from Siemens we have panel PCs, regular industrial PCs, we have nano and microboxes if you need to go smaller. We also have rack-mount PCs. We can also install this on any standard desktop computer if you don't require the industrial hardware, or extra I/O provided by a Siemens PC.

And we get real-time deterministic processing, which means that this can be safety rated. And the big thing is we get Microsoft Windows on here, which is where all of our expandability comes from. And I don't want you to panic, most people do when you say Windows in an industrial setting. But the way that this is implemented is the PLC portion is linked in below the Windows Operating System. It's implemented at the kernel level in Windows. This means that if your Windows Operating Systems crashes, your PLC is still up and running, and you can recover from this situation gracefully.

The next thing we get is the WinAC ODK. So Siemens provides this as our toolbox. This is the way that we’re going to communicate between our PLC and the Windows side of the computer. You can think of it as our link between Windows and Step 7. And there's three different ways that Siemens provides for us to have this link. We have the custom cord extension module, we have the shared memory extension module, and then we have the controller management integration. 

I’m not going to go into detail on these right now, but they each provide distinct advantages and disadvantages, and you can kind of pick and choose which one you want to use based on your situation and your applications.

So what is our big advantage in applications for using WinAC? There's a lot of them. We get a totally integrated solution and combine all of our real-time and Windows operations onto a single unit. We get a large array of device integration so USB devices, PCI express cards, any other device that you can hook up to a standard computer is now available in your PLC program. 

We can do data base access across any style of database, anything your computer can normally connect to. We get the .Net framework available to us which unlocks a wide capabilities on the Windows side, complex math algorithms, WCF services, WIN forms or WPF user interfaces. We get access to web services, Google APIs, anything that you can imagine that you'd want to get to in the Cloud. 

And, lastly, we have simplified development. There's a lot of things that WinAC provides to us that allows us to distribute tasks between different programmers, and allows us to pull in a wide array of Windows programmers not normally available in the PLC world. 

So the big take away here is if your PC can do it, so can your PLC as long as you're using WinAC.
Thank you for listening and feel free to check out the presentation link below, or contact us here at DMC for some more information on this topic.