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Automation technology is the backbone of industrial production. It makes factories more productive, more efficient, faster and more reliable. SIMATIC laid the foundation in 1958 for Siemens' world market position in automation technology.
Siemens registers SIMATIC trademark at German Patent Office and thus launches one of the world’s most successful automation systems. At the Paris machine tool fair in 1959, Siemens proudly presents the first generation of a "modular system for contactless controls: SIMATIC G. Conventional electromechanical systems had used relays and contactors as switching components. SIMATIC G used transistors, which were small and not vulnerable to mechanical wear. So the first uses for SIMATIC G were primarily in transformer stations and power plants, where especially reliable control elements are essential.
The early 1970s were the start of the era of programmable logic controllers, whose functions were no longer determined by fixed wiring but by software – making programming significantly easier. At the same time, computing power soared, enabling SIMATIC to handle not just control functions, but also higher-level tasks.
This industrial automation system has been improved continuously down to the present day, and its functions have expanded as well. While the first SIMATIC systems focused entirely on control technology, the latest SIMATIC generation can handle almost any conceivable task in industrial automation. That's why every one of the 30 largest automotive manufactures uses Siemens automation technology for production – thanks to SIMATIC.
In 1960, Siemens developed the first numerical control (NC) system capable of industrial use in running machine tools. Four years later the system was named SINUMERIK. It was first tried out on a turret lathe. Specialized control versions followed for turning, milling, grinding and nibbling operations.
A major step in the direction of CNC (Computerized Numerical Control) came in 1973, with the SINUMERIK 500C, the first to be based on a process computer. The SINUMERIK System 7, introduced three years later, was the first microprocessor-equipped CNC system, and was capable of DNC (Distributed Numerical Control) networking.
In 1994, for the higher-performance range, Siemens introduced the SINUMERIK 840D as the system standard, equipped with a digital drive coupling and an open NC core. It allowed software components to be integrated into the CNC, thus making the technological expertise of machine tool builders a part of the automation process. Subsequently capabilities for simulation, CAD connection and safety were also integrated into the system.
In the 1970s, all segments of a factory were connected together by what was known as a bus system. Production timing was monitored entirely by central computers and the calculated setpoint for each operation was transmitted directly to the various production machines. Ultimately, minicomputers increasingly relocated hardware functions to software, enhancing flexibility.
In the 1990s, Siemens developed the concept of “Totally Integrated Automation,” (TIA), in which all phases and components of an automated production operation were integrated into a single automation system: SIMATIC.
Applicability extended all along the value chain – from material feeds, to production proper, to packaging and logistics, this end-to-end software helped to increase productivity, improve quality control, assist automation system maintenance, and reduce life-cycle costs.