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Siemens S7-300/400 PLCs with TIA-Portal STEP7 software

Siemens S7-300/400 PLCs with TIA-Portal STEP7 software

Do you have S7-300/400 PLCs programmed with TIA-Portal software?
If so, there might be a bit of a problem.

How can we help (see below)?

Siemens S7-300/400 PLC training
In keeping with Siemens themselves, we have S7-300/400 PLC training courses; these are based around the use of STEP7 Classic software as that is what by far the majority of users will have.

Siemens S7-1200/1500 PLC training
Similarly, our S7-1200/1500 PLC training courses are based around the use of the TIA-Portal STEP7 (as that is the only software tool that can be used with 1200/1500 PLC systems).

However – the problem
The problem is that many companies have realised that where they have had relatively new installations (they probably specified S7-300/400 equipment), the PLCs have NOT BEEN PROGRAMMED with STEP7 Classic as they reasonably expected.

More than likely, the company did not even realise that this might become a problem; they were probably just trying to keep the kit (the hardware) consistent with what they already had. However, for the later models of S7-300/400 PLCs, Siemens “left the door open” so that these S7-300/400 PLCs could be programmed using the latest TIA-Portal STEP7 software as an option. Some machine builders then decided to move on & start to use the latest software, even though the installation was for S7-300/400 equipment.

Why is this a problem?
Well first issue, the standard software is around £1500+VAT which is now required. If the S7-300/400 has been programmed using TIA-Portal STEP7, you will need TIA-Portal STEP7 to communicate with the PLCs. You cannot just connect up & use your Classic STEP7. That’s bad news.

Second issue, what about some training? You would probably hope that STEP7 Classic & TIA-Portal STEP7 are close enough that further training would not be required. Not true.

As well as S7-1200/1500 PLC hardware being different, the standard networking option is different (Profinet rather than Profibus). The Instruction Sets have differences with the S7-1200 not even supporting STL.

Many people will sigh & say “thank goodness – that’s no bad thing”! OK, so check out the alternative – SCL. Now some folks like SCL – they say “you program it the way you’d say it”. Fair enough, good luck!! Try it. Actually, it’s not so bad when someone “holds your hand” to get you started but it is “different”. And, of course, that’s what training is about.

There are other Instruction Set differences as well compared with the S7-300/400 PLCs but there are many similarities too.

Third issue. The biggest difference is between STEP7 Classic & TIA-Portal STEP7 i.e. the programming / monitoring interface. Whilst there are similarities, there are many differences. TIA-Portal STEP7 looks & feels different. Many things that users might have been familiar with have been re-named or moved & new tools have been introduced.

It is one thing for a reasonably frequent user to muddle about & see if they can “work it out”, it’s another thing entirely for an occasional user who probably does not have a strong enough grasp of “the basics” to have the time to work it out.

Anyway, about that Problem...
Above, I have identified some of the issues people are finding between STEP7 Classic & TIA-Portal STEP7. The problem is when you use TIA-Portal STEP7 with S7-300/400 PLCs (remember, I said Siemens had “left the door open”), it does not work the same as if you use TIA-Portal STEP7 with S7-1200/1500 PLCs. Now, who thinks that’s a good move?

No, there are some fundamental issues where the software behaves differently & some of those are quite important. There are also additional tools which only work when you are using the TIA-Portal software with S7-1200 or S7-1500 PLCs.

And how can we help?
Ever since the TIA-Portal software first became available, we have offered a 2 day “Update” course for TIA-Portal STEP7 users who have Siemens S7-300/400 PLCs. As I said above, in our regular scheduled courses we use STEP7 Classic with the S7-300/400s & TIA-Portal STEP7 with the S7-1200/1500 PLCs.

What we have committed to do from this month is where there is a level of interest in using the TIA-Portal STEP7 with S7-300/400 PLCs, if requested, when delegates attend our S7-1200/1500 courses, we will provide some additional coverage of the operational differences between working with S7-300/400 PLCs & S7-1200/1500 PLCs. Although time will not be available during the course to practically work through & experience all of the issues (we have a 2 day course for that), we will at least highlight / demonstarate the issues.

And there’s another potential Problem to mention as well
Watch out here, life does not get any simpler.

Siemens have released v15 of the TIA-Portal STEP7 software. This might be good news if you have a new installation but it may mean you have work to do in order to avoid problems going forward.

V15 will be the 6th version of TIA-Portal software to be released within the last 3 years. If you have S7-1200/1500 PLCs on-site, your machine control programs will have been written using a particular version of TIA-Portal – that’s the version of TIA-Portal that you will need to be able to communicate with those PLCs.

If you do not have a matching version of TIA-Portal, you have some work to do & it will be pretty important to get that conversion work done properly before others start tripping over the problem & causing you further issues.

Training dates:

Siemens HMIs
Title: Siemens S7-1200/1500 Level 1 First-line Practical Skills - (TIA-Portal with S7-300/400 overview will be included on request)
Duration: 5 days
Fee: £1195+VAT
Dates: 26 Feb - 2 Mar; 9 – 13 Apr; 4 – 8 June

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