Three weeks of programming in only half a day using Modular Application Creator

Instead of spending time on routine tasks, we must spend time and abilities on creative solutions and innovations. Digitalization offers this possibility, i.e., programming in the TIA Portal has become significantly faster with Modular Application Creator. AB Electric reduced the programming time on a printing machine from three weeks to half a day.

Digitalization offers the ability to spend our time better. While the computer does the routine work, we must take advantage of our creativeness to see new contexts and invent new solutions.

Using Modular Application Creator with the TIA Portal, Siemens has taken digitalization further in that direction, and Mark Baumann-Lund agrees. As a software engineer with his own company, Baumatik, Mark has collaborated with AB Electric in Kolding for many years to deliver controllers for printing machines. Never did things go so fast as with AB Electric’s solution to the machine builder TRESU recently.

"Siemens introduced me to Modular Application Creator, we have been interested in switching to a complete SIMATIC solution with one controller managing both the PLC and the motion part."

Mark Baumann-Lund, Software Engineer at Baumatik.

“If I had written my own code, I would have spent three work weeks. By using Modular Application Creator, it took me only half a day”, he says.

For many years, AB Electric has provided automation for printing machines, and they have developed their own standards and templates for machine automation and motion control. The entire machine automation is usually programmed in the TIA Portal and the motion control part in SIMOTION SCOUT. However, this time they delivered a SIMATIC project in the TIA Portal V17 containing both parts.

“Siemens introduced me to Modular Application Creator, and since then, we have been interested in switching to a complete SIMATIC solution with one controller managing both the PLC and the motion part. We dealt with a relatively simple printing machine with three print units and 13 axes. Therefore, it was obvious to try it out”, Mark says.

Creating the code itself

Significant time savings were achieved, as Modular Application Creator consists of predefined and well-tested software modules based on standards from Siemens. In this project, AB Electric used the Print Standard Equipment Module. As a programmer, Mark defined the axes and added which parts should be connected. Then, the Modular Application Creator created the TIA Portal code.

“If I had written the code myself, I would have had to deal with different bugs, spend time on them, and to fix them,” he says.

Standards ensure the quality

In addition to the programming phase, Modular Application Creator also helps to save time in the following steps. That is because of the standard modules that AB Electric emphasizes, as it supports their entire business strategy.

“When standardizing, we get a much better basis for doing things right from the beginning. The standard is well-tested and worked through. Therefore, all the delivered solutions come in the same high quality”, says Rune Wagnersen, CEO in AB Electric.

Mark is excited about the Siemens Print Standard:

“The functions are tested with the end customers and at Siemens. Internally, it is much more adaptable, as every programmer does not have to invent their own standard. If a problem occurs at the end customer, it is easy for a Siemens technician to adapt to this part of the program no matter where the machine is installed in the world.

The fact that others can quickly take over contributes to a better work environment internally.

Basing projects on standards makes it much easier for others to relate to the thoughts behind the project. Thus, you can have a good night’s sleep, even though you are responsible for a project. Many of our employees have a lot of special know-how. By standardizing even more, we make it easier for them to educate others for them to take over”, Rune Wagnersen says.

Higher competitiveness

Modular Application Creator makes using standards much more manageable, thus improving AB Electric’s competitive edge and attracting young talents.

“In particular, during commissioning, we saved plenty of time which means a lot to our customers and the end customers. In the future, it will be more difficult to attract employees. The new generations are not interested in traveling several weeks in a row. Therefore, it is important that the commissioning can be done in one week instead of four. This is another benefit from using standards”, Rune Wagnersen says.

Use of Modular Application Creator

When starting with Modular Application Creator, you must select and read an existing project in the TIA Portal. Then the available equipment modules in the project are shown and can be added when needed.

Equipment module parameters are set with a graphic and intuitive wizard. You can select, i.e., axis names, parameters from mechanical design, etc. 

A system validation of your input supports you, taking correct input into account and checking any sources of errors.

Once the configuration wizard is finished, all necessary components, including the PLC code and the connection to the drives, are generated in the TIA Portal project with one click. 

Then you can download the entire project to a PLC or a PLC simulator and test the functionality.

Faster programming means that the specialists at AB Electric can focus even more on developing innovative and creative solutions.

“The salaries are high in Denmark. However, we are still competitive in the global market, as we can compete in knowledge and in our ability to think for ourselves”, Rune Wagnersen says.

Take more advantage of the specialists’ time

Using digitalization to take advantage of the specialists’ time hits the nail on the head as to why Siemens is developing initiatives like Modular Application Creator.

“We must control the time we spend on developing software to be competitive in our part of the world. The hourly salary is very high, and therefore we must focus on our strengths to create value. AB Electric is good at printing machines and knows all the involved processes, creating more value by developing and improving the features than by using time on programming”, says Søren Jakobsen, Technical Business Developer at Siemens.

His colleague Jesper Bennebo supports him. As an Account Manager, he was responsible for the cooperation and the daily contact with AB Electric.

“Differentiating in prizes and products is difficult in our market. Therefore, we need to cooperate with our customers based on the end product and focus on how both parts can create value. The cooperation with AB Electric is a good example of how we have delivered software that reduces the engineering time and gets them faster from A to B to create value for our end customer. At the same time, this is a good example of how the standardization now goes from being hardware-driven to software-driven”, Jesper Bennebo says.

About AB Electric

AB Electric is a panel builder and automation supplier specializing in end-to-end project management. The company delivers control panels, software development, installation, commissioning, and service — all in one package. AB Electric has 60 employees with headquarters in Kolding in Denmark.