PLC - Programmable Logic Controllers High performance through complete SAP integration

We have specialized in control technology for intralogistics systems for many years. As a technology leader in this field, IGZ has contributed to many market innovations with our expertise in control technology, such as shuttle controls or pick-by-robot.

Our core competence is the interaction of programmable logic controllers (PLC) with SAP standard solutions (especially SAP EWM/SAPMFS). We have successfully implemented controls for far more than 10,000 conveyor drives and over 200 shelf vehicles.


Origins of control technology and programmable logic controllers (PLC)

PLCs are used across all industries in almost all industrial automation environments. Based on DIN EN 61131, Part 1, this is a "digitally operating electronic system with a programmable memory ... to control various types of machines and processes by means of digital or analog input and output signals." By definition, individual operations are coordinated and constantly synchronized with each other according to a defined sequence, making automation possible.

PLCs can be fully used and integrated in conjunction with warehouse management systems (e.g. SAP EWM). In other words, a PLC represents a real-time system subordinate to the master computer that physically controls both individual machines and entire plants while adhering to defined target specifications.


Significance of programmable logic controllers for intralogistics


Programmable logic controllers show their potential in intralogistics:

  • Storage and retrieval machines in automated small parts warehouses(AS/RS) and high-bay warehouses(HRL).
  • Pallet and container conveyor systems
  • Shuttle systems
  • Sorting, distribution, palletizing and depalletizing systems
  • Transfer carriages
  • Vertical conveyors etc.

In conjunction with the higher-level control system, PLCs in use, which execute the control commands for all mechanical components and trigger the transports, act as the central clock generator of an integrated system solution.

Communication with the material flow computer (e.g. SAP MFS) usually takes place via a standardized exchange via TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol).

Central components of a PLC are digital inputs and outputs, a real-time operating system, the so-called firmware, as well as interfaces for Ethernet or fieldbuses. Sensors and so-called actuators are crucial for the connection to machines or plants. Sensors are usually placed at the inputs of programmable logic controllers - these can be, for example, buttons and light barriers, temperature sensors and/or incremental encoders.

Via these, a PLC is always informed about the current machine or plant status. Actuators connected to the outputs, on the other hand, are modules for drive control, electrical valves, etc. A programmable logic controller can be implemented both as an individual device and as a module. There are also applications in the form of PC plug-in cards and software emulation. For some time now, visualization and alarm functions have also been increasingly used at PLC level.

SPS'n in interaction with SAP solutions

We are experts in the realization of sophisticated logistics facilities in interaction with SAP standard software. A complete SAP integration of the control level can be achieved with the help of SAP EWM and SAP Material Flow System(SAP MFS) - and this with a minimization of interfaces, even for complex intralogistics systems. The exchange of information between SAP EWM and a programmable logic controller is organized via SAP MFS. This is triggered at so-called reporting points, each of which is assigned precisely to a programmable logic controller. Within SAP EWM, each message point is mapped as a communication element.

For an intelligent control system, the constant consideration of capacities in a plant is also important: e.g. the number of handling units (HUs) assigned to a reporting point can be relevant, or a capacity still available in congestion sections. In addition, the availability of individual components (e.g. rack vehicles, lifters, cross transfer carriages) must be checked and taken into account for the fine control of the plant. If required, each reporting point set up can be blocked, e.g. either via the PLC itself or the control station (manually or automated according to the corresponding set of rules).

As a future-proof, standardized overall system solution for warehouse management and control, SAP EWM/MFS focuses on flexibly scalable, high-performance and at the same time efficient processes: The subordinate programmable logic controller (PLC) based on Siemens S7 or TIA ensures that all specifications of the higher-level systems are met. In this way, all components of the integrated, fully automatic storage and conveying systems can be precisely coordinated, regulated and controlled. In this way, goods reach their destination in the desired quantity and quality as quickly as possible.


Plant visualization - from WinCC to complete SAP integration

We are your contact when it comes to visualization systems. Regardless of whether the plant is a small or large project, simulation and emulation tools are recommended to safeguard the planning or test scenarios. After all, having the right, up-to-date information about the respective plant status is necessary for achieving high availability and safe operation of intralogistics systems.

The simulation/emulation tools improve the planning results and shorten the cost- and time-intensive implementation phase between SAP/SPS and mechanics by a multiple. To check throughput performance and the effects of different warehouse strategies in advance, we recreate your logistics system in an animated 3D model. Technical processes can then be analyzed and optimized more easily. In this way, improvements can already be taken into account before the start of the project.

A planning simulation has the advantage that you can already see your future system in full operation in moving images and check it before it goes live. An even more detailed and functional replica of the logistics system with all drive and technical details is the emulation: Here, the model is designed so precisely that the coupling between SAP EWM/MES and the PLC controls - just like the later system - can be tested comprehensively.

We offer powerful tools for every purpose:

  • Planning simulation
  • PLC/plant emulation for SAP EWM/LES
  • SAP SCE emulation

Darin enthaltene Kernelemente:

  • Basis: WinCC, Procon-Win, Zenon
  • Benutzerverwaltung
  • Störanzeigen und Statistiken
  • Visualisierung der Gesamtübersicht, Bedienbereiche
  • Visualisierung der Regalbediengeräte

  • Grafische Sensorik- und Aktorik-Anzeige (Farbwechsel der Signalzustände)
  • Schnittstellenübersichten
  • Grafischer Busaufbau
  • Kamera-Systeme

Portable plant visualization

IGZ has developed a portable WinCC visualization that offers a consistent solution in combination with the SAP systems used. This is particularly suitable for tablets. An essential part of the visualization is the graphical and tabular representation of the entire plant technology. The level of detail extends to the sensor and actuator level and makes early problem detection possible. Attention is paid to simple, intuitive and touchscreen-capable menu navigation. In this way, the availability of a plant can be visualized at a glance. Through an online connection with SAP, useful, up-to-date inventory and order information is also loaded and displayed to users. Another feature is the integration of manual operation into WinCC, as this means that existing plants can also be retrofitted cost-effectively.

Win CC with SAP EWM (SAP Extended Warehouse Management)

With WinCC visualizations from IGZ, you can create transparency and an overview in your systems and at the same time display any information from SAP in visualized form. Increase the availability of your systems sustainably with the help of targeted and fast analysis options. By means of long-term evaluations, you can find weak points or sources of errors that you can eliminate in a targeted, preventive and timely manner.

The basis for this is the Siemens WinCC platform, which you receive as open system software. As a result, you benefit from maximum supply data independence for the future and can, for example, carry out optimizations independently.

Services as your SAP EWM general contractor

With our many years of experience and cross-brand expertise, we ensure that all components installed in a plant or system communicate intelligently with each other - even from different manufacturers. The advantages are increased throughput rates with sustained availability and increased efficiency in the processes - and last but not least, independence from "classic" plant suppliers or individual components.

In addition to SAP implementation, we offer a comprehensive service package in the area of plant and control technology:

  • Planning and implementation of new plants (intralogistics)
  • PLC retrofit (e.g. conversion from S5 to S7 PLCs)
  • Optimization measures within existing logistics and production plants
  • Automated guided vehicles: from conveyor systems to electric monorail systems or electric floor conveyors
  • Automated picking solutions

The result: SAP and PLC mechanics - all from one source!

Die Vorteile auf einen Blick:

  • Durchgängige SAP-Integration = Zukunftssichere Lagerverwaltung und Materialflusssteuerung in nur einem System (SAP)
  • Eliminierung unnötiger Systemebenen
  • Entfall von Bestandsabgleichen und Schnittstellen

  • Erhöhte Effizienz, Stabilität, Transparenz und Qualität
  • Reduzierung der laufenden Betriebskosten
  • Full-Service durch IGZ für SAP, SPS, Anlagentechnik