Siemens TIA Portal is a powerful platform that supports many devices outside of PLCs and HMIs. TIA Portal manages soft starts with ease.
For those that are thinking, “Why would I want to add a soft start to a project” or even better, “why should I even use a soft start in the first place?” Let’s take a peek behind the curtain.
A soft start sometimes referred to as a reduced voltage soft start, is a device that over a set period ramps up a motor to 100 percent speed. It offers greater control over a standard across-the-line starter. It does not however offer the fine-tuning capabilities of a Variable Frequency Drive. The soft start is a great solution when there is a lot of torque required immediately upon the shaft of the motor on startup. The soft start can help start the motor slowly to avoid damaging the motor or the equipment itself.
Consider the standard kitchen mixer when trying to blend thick batter. If it is turned on to full speed immediately the potential exists to make a giant mess and destroy the appliance as the load requirements are too harsh right out the gate. The mixer should be started at a slow speed and gradually increased over time. The soft-start performs this same type of function in an industrial application. They are used in many industries including mining and chemical industries for conveyors and mixers.
Adding a soft start to TIA Portal allows the user to include the whole scope of automation in their project. It also allows the soft start to be programmed via TIA Portal, just like other automation devices. To add the device in, navigate to add a new device as is done with other automation devices in projects. Make sure the proper license is downloaded and installed, in this case, Soft Start ES. A box will show up in the Add Device window for Control Devices, as seen below. Select the proper soft start and add it to the project.
From there, a wizard screen will require input on the proper communication card and HMI that is included with the soft start. Users can go to the parameter list of the soft start and assign items such as ramp-up/downtimes, input, output, ground fault, etc.
Once the wizard is finished the soft start can be seen in the Devices and Networks view along with other devices that are included in a project. The IP address can be assigned/changed as well as the Profinet master can be assigned if control by a PLC is desired.
Managing soft starts in TIA Portal is a powerful capability. The use of one platform increases efficiencies in those managing large projects and having one software brings an elevated level of ease to control engineers. Areas such as tag libraries that make the job of programming automation projects flow naturally and this type of capability is a major step in the world of industrial automation.