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SA Instrumentation & Control Buyers' Guide


Batch size one production
February 2018, System Integration & Control Systems Design

Bürkle based in Freudenstadt specialises in the field of press lines and coating technology, supplying turnkey production plants to its customers. To comply with the requirements of one customer requesting a fully automated, fully order-controlled production plant for door leaf blanks, Bürkle opted to use an automation concept from Siemens which enabled it to achieve the efficient, completely order-driven production of small and ultra-small batch sizes at its factory in Mastholte. The underlying concept deployed is helping smooth the company’s route towards Industrie 4.0.

Efficient batch size one production which is fully automated, order-controlled and ensures maximum material yield might sound a bit like wishful thinking. But Bürkle has now implemented an automation concept which enables individual plants to be built for flexible production. The solution comes from Siemens, and encompasses the ET 200SP OpenControllers (Central Processing Units/CPUs pre-installed in the factory) and the Engineering Framework TIA (Totally Integrated Automation) Portal.

Door leaf blanks started the ball rolling

“For us, it is easier to be able to implement all the different automation tasks from the smallest machine module to the large-scale station consistently in the TIA Portal,” says Andreas Lammert, head of electric design at the Mastholte location. “Using OpenControllers, we’re able to implement plant sections which are functionally highly complex using compact standard technology, without the need for additional engineering tools.” It was an order placed by a Dutch door manufacturer requiring a fully automated, fully order-controlled production plant for door leaf blanks – even for batches of just one in extreme cases – that prompted the company’s move towards automation.

Windows-based but still Windows independent

The OpenControllers encompass both a Windows-based IPC (inter-process communication) section and a PC-based variant of the Simatic S7-1500, which is optionally available as a failsafe variant. As a Profinet-capable master unit for the distributed I/O ET-200SP, the OpenControllers can be connected both to the management level and the IT and field level. The PC-based Simatic runs as a software PLC independently of Windows and with its own real-time operating system on a separate processor core. Breakdown of the production orders into individual batches of just one door leaf each is carried out by the plant’s host computer, a Microbox PC 427D. The production parameters for the batches released by the operator are then forwarded by the host computer to the individual machine stations for evaluation and implementation. The Windows-based part of the OpenController hosts the visualisation of the different stations and collates the operational and quality data for the host computer. All of this takes place without placing any additional stress on the actual machine control system, as the automation architecture supports the clear structuring of complex plants into hardware and software. This also simplifies the implementation of specific safety functions such as the emergency stop or protection against unwanted access to parts of the control system by means of Enhanced Write Filters (EWF).

Ideally equipped for Industrie 4.0

“The automation structure in place here allows us to implement complex customer requirements more simply and economically than before,” says a delighted Andreas Lammert. Even small to ultra-small batch sizes are now a viable proposition. “This is why our new OpenController-based automation concept provides optimum support for all those companies keen to get into shape now for Industrie 4.0 and to keep pace with an increasingly dynamic market.”

For more information contact Jennifer Naidoo, Siemens Digital Factory and Process Industries and Drives, +27 (0)11 652 2795,,

Supplied By: Siemens Digital Factory & Process Indust. & Drives
Tel: +27 11 652 2000
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