In the new economy, engineering firms and equipment manufacturers find themselves forced to retain more and more development capacity to meet customer-specific modification and product upgrade challenges. In addition to higher costs, this can also lead to longer delivery times and even quality issues. Pantec Automation has now developed a framework, based on Enterprise Architect, to remedy this situation.
Vienna/Ruggell, August 2017 – In order to improve readiness for issues arising in Industry 4.0 scenarios, companies dealing with industrial automation are showing increasing preference for the concept of modular systems design…for which communication among engineers, automation specialists and IT departments is nothing short of essential. Enter model-based development, which facilitates communication among stakeholders while at the same time producing comprehensive equipment or systems design documentation. Markus Hanefeld, Director of Sales at Pantec Automation, explains: “The use of UML and models in automation is currently not very common. We recognized the advantages of model-based engineering with Enterprise Architect for automation early on, and we are delighted to see growing demand for our ‘Pantec Full Stack Automation Framework’.”
Image 1: Markus Hanefeld, Director of Sales at Pantec Automation: “The use of UML and models in automation is currently not very common. We recognized the advantages model-based engineering with Enterprise Architect for automation early on, and we are delighted to see growing demand for our ‘Pantec Full Stack Automation Framework’.” (All images/graphics: Pantec Automation)
Success delivered through comprehensive modular design
As can be seen the automotive industry, there is a clear tendency in the mechanical and systems engineering sector toward individualized adaptation to meet customer requirements. Using the traditional approach, however, production and maintenance result in enormous effort combined with high costs. However, in order to meet increasing demands, it is important not only to modularize the mechanical design, but also electrical planning and software. Only this kind of rigorous modularization leads to the desired savings, faster commissioning and better quality. Hans Bartmann, Managing Director of SparxSystems CE: "We are pleased to see how the Pantec Automation initiative is taking model-based development one step closer to the automation sector. In view of customer-specific requirements when it comes to the production of machines and facilities, Enterprise Architect is helping to reconcile customer satisfaction and efficiency. This proves once again that the advantages of modeling are increasingly needed and so are finding implementation in more and more sectors. "
Graphic 1: The Pantec Full Stack Automation Framework – A toolset for efficient modular design: The Pantec Automation Framework model consists of three levels. The Automation Plan level defines the steps to be taken for the actual realization of machine or facility automation. Level 2, the Automation Strategy, answers the question of how automation can help to achieve competitive advantage in the mid-to-long term. The Full Stack Automation Framework on the 3rd level defines which methodologies and technologies are required to achieve these goals.
Six steps to success
Modular machines and systems are developed in a holistic process involving all areas of specialization. “During the development process, performed jointly with the customer, we define the appropriate modular granularity. We use UML as a descriptive language for development and design. Ideas, concepts, definitions, requirements, systems, etc. are described in Enterprise Architect,” says Hanefeld. For this purpose, Pantec has defined an automation model with three levels, the third level of which is the Full Stack Automation Framework used to define methods and technologies. Throughout the six steps toward a modular machine – from the detailed collection of requirements (requirements engineering) to the setup of the software framework – a great deal of data is collected, making it possible to achieve an overall view of the system as well as to establish relevance to the level of detailed procedures and state machines. Finally, it is even possible to automatically generate standardized code for defined automation platforms (for example, B&R Automation Studio or Beckhoff TwinCat). “Our approach separates control software and peripherals from one another. This allows simultaneous work by several teams; the resulting system is very stable thanks to the modular architecture, and it can be easily expanded,” concludes Hanefeld.
Graphic 2: An integrated basis for documentation visualizes associations from requirements to state machines: To complete the 6 steps to a modular machine, a great deal of data must be collected throughout the process. Pantec uses UML (Unified Modeling Language) as a descriptive language for development and design. Ideas, concepts, definitions, requirements, systems, etc. are documented using Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect.
The advantages of modular machine and systems design
- Parallel development: The encapsulation of the modules enables parallel development. Software can usually be implemented, in fully-operational condition, upon completion of electric wiring.
- Integrative development: The modular, easy-to-understand visual documentation structure (UML is a graphical language) facilitates process coordination and verification by fabricators, software developers, etc. Errors are therefore detectable in advance.
- High quality: The re-use of pre-tested modules reduces post-processing effort and the machines can be put into operation faster.
- Identical software design: All machines are based on the same framework which alleviates effort for all project stakeholders (application designers, commissioning engineers, service technicians, machine operators, etc.).
- Easy update: Existing machines/facilities can be updated to the latest stage of development at any time.
Graphic 3: Automatic code generation enables quick, error-free coding: Thanks to clear formal guidelines describing processes in UML and Enterprise Architect, Pantec is able to automatically generate standardized code via the PHOENIX™ code generator for automation platforms such as B&R Automation Studio or Beckhoff TwinCat.
About Sparx Systems
Sparx Systems was founded in Australia in 1996 and is the producer of Enterprise Architect, the world’s premiere UML modeling platform. Enterprise Architect is used to design and produce software systems, business process modeling, and modeling of any process or system. Enterprise Architect has been implemented by over 650,000 users due to its high performance at an unbeatable price. Enterprise Architect is an easy-to-understand, team-based modeling environment that helps organizations analyze, design and create well-documented systems precisely and comprehensibly. It also allows companies to collect and present the often distributed knowledge of teams and departments.
In order to support customers in their own language and time zone, SparxSystems Software Central Europe was created in 2004 to provide for the entire German-speaking region with software licenses, training and consulting.
About Pantec Automation
Pantec Automation, a business unit of the Pantec Group, is a leading system house for control solutions in machine and plant engineering. A breadth of technical competence (software engineering, electrical engineering, switchgear construction and testing, life cycle management), a focus on key technologies and a high levels of practical and methodological expertise in project handling make Pantec Automation the preferred partner in the field of just-in-time engineering of the highest quality.