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How to use PCS 7 as a DCS or ICSS

How to use PCS 7 as a DCS or ICSS

A distributed control system or DCS, in its current concept, is used to control a whole production site or multiple process plant on one geographical location. The distributed part means that the control decisions are made by controllers that are controlling a part of the process. The controllers used to control the different parts, should be able to take care of their own process and produce without needing a supervisory system. Obviously the supervisory system can add benefits and add higher operational efficiency, and so PCS 7 would be a good fit for these solutions.  

So how can PCS 7 be configured as DCS?

When looking at a multi controller architecture, PCS 7 is one of the best platforms you can base your automation on. The single scada, multi controller setup of PCS 7, makes it easy for operators to do their work based on a logical (S88 based) design of the operator stations. This means that the operator stations do not need to reflect any multi controller architecture, instead the operator sees one contiguous operating system, and the abstraction to a multi controller platform is only visible in the engineering or maintenance systems.

The plant can be divided in a technical hierarchy based on an ISA S88 design or you can apply KKS or any other logical design structure. This design structure will allow you to subdivide the plant into program “folders” or functions that you can then divide across multiple logic controllers. These logic controller can be the Siemens 410CPU, but most other types of controllers can be used to load logic into. When using 410, 412,414,416 or 417 CPUs from Siemens, the logic for the control loops can be created in the PCS 7 logic editors like CFC or SFC. 

PCS 7 Architecture

PCS 7 DCS with non Siemens controllers

Connecting non siemens controllers to the DCS

Because the system in a DCS should be able to be loaded into manufacturer independent controllers, and still be able to connect to the main visualisation system, Siemens has developed OpenOS for PCS 7. This software system allows the DCS visualisation system to visualise data from all different controllers and/or OPC or modbus protocols. If you would like to exchange data between two controllers, these must still be interfaced separately. This can however be done using a wide variety of protocols that are industry standards.

Connecting multiple controllers can also be done in a server/client way, where you can have the AS410 CPU run a master program and a unit controller execute the actions given to it by the PCS 7 AS410 controller. This can be useful when running Batch recipes. But it could also be useful for integration of package unit controllers that run their visualisation independently, but need a start/stop command or permissions to be cleared by a main process controlling PLC.

For PCS 7 you can easily integrate PLCs by manufacturers like:

  • Allen Bradley
  • ABB
  • Emerson
  • Schneider

or even legacy Siemens PLCs can be connected to a new DCS visualisation system, which could allow you to migrate controllers and visualisation independently from a legacy Siemens DCS. Legacy Siemens controllers include:

  • Teleperm XP
  • Teleperm M
  • Step7 controllers (ET200 CPU, ET300 CPU)

Even new controllers like TIA Portal controllers (S7-1200 adn S7-1500) or the latest S7-1500H can be connected to a PCS 7 DCS.

Site support tools

PCS 7 can be linked to all of your existing site systems. For instance, a connection to OsiSoft PI or aspentech can be made, but many other historians can also be connected. If you don’t have a historian currently, it is advised to have one, and PCS 7 even has its own historian that can be integrated.

This can also be said for any process device management system. Because PCS 7 has modules that support heart technology, Profinet and profibus PA, a lot of transmitters can be accessed by a process device management toolkit. Using the PCS 7 PDM (process device manager) software allows for additional integration of all device information and data sheets into the visualisation system. This makes it easy to collect all data on one object in the control system, and this will give the operators a clear understanding of where information can be found.

The visualisation system can also be extended with a maintenance management system. This maintenance system can be loaded onto a separate maintenance computer, but also it can be used through the main operator visualisation system.

Supported auxiliary system communication

A number of auxiliary system can be connected with a PCS 7 controller. These systems can be for instance:

  • Fire and gas system
  • Vibration monitoring/machine condition monitoring system
  • Cyber security systems
  • DNP3/ST7/Sinaut protocol systems
  • IEC61580 protocol systems
  • Single sign-on system
  • MES connectors
  • or any other modbus/canbus/devicenet/EthernetIP/…… data connection.

Most system can be linked to a PCS 7 PLC, so it can use the data in the program loops. Other systems can be linked directly to the visualisation, if they do not need to share any data with the PLC. This feature can be used for visualising states of a power management system or a remote sensor for instance.

What tools will I have to include safety controls?

Because the PCS 7 has a process safety system included in its standard offering, a SIS Compact CPU can be used to integrate an SIS into your DCS. This allows for programming of the SIS inside the PCS 7 toolset, and also allows for a combine visualisation. Another way of including safety control is to load a safety program into a PCS 7 410CPU. This will make the controller into an ICSS controller, and will save you the cost of buying an additional SIS Compact controller.

The library that comes with the PCS 7 Safety system has standard, TÜV certified, logic blocks in it that will allow you to configure the safety loops quickly with pre-apporved functions. Safety IO modules can also be inserted into the standard IO racks, and will then be configured to use Profinet as their communication protocol. This fill integration of programming tools, IO modules, ways of configuration and visualisation, will make sure that the service engineers will only need to learn one way a diagnosing a problem. They can then apply that knowledge all across the DCS system.

All these advantages make PCS 7 a system that can effectively be used as a DCS or ICSS. iAUTOMATION makes sure system like PCS 7, but also T3000, TIA Portal, ABB 800xA, Emerson DeltaV, Emerson Ovation, Rockwell FactoryTalk or any other solution will be configured right for your site. If you would like more information on DCS or ICSS systems, or if you have a difficult industrial automation issue that you would like to have solved? Come and speak with iAUTOMATION, send us an email at sales@iautomation.nl or talk to us on linkedin, and let us help you. 


iAUTOMATION is an automation specialist that focuses on industrial automation, IT and the links between these two fields. With many years of experience in the industrial automation and IT world, iAUTOMATION is a mature partner that will benefit you.

iAUTOMATION provides complete projects for the industrial automation world with a specialty in PCS 7 consultancy and engineering. But other systems are also known to us and can be implemented by iAUTOMATION.

With knowledge of virtualization, networks, domains and IT management, iAUTOMATION is also a very suitable partner for all your IT questions and projects. We will always assist you with great enthusiasm and knowledge in your projects, and try to relieve our customers by proactively and positively tackling your project.

    About the author

    Dennis is Technical Director at iAUTOMATION, where he is responsible for all the technical queries and technical solutions that iAUTOMATION provide. Dennis also helps customers and the iAUTOMATION consultants with the technical side of projects and designs. Dennis has a lot of experience with process control systems and IT infrastructure, this is why his experience is key in projects that include both these areas of expertise like MES, virtualization and process automation projects.

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