As a System Consultant with InSource with over 30 years’ experience in industrial automation, I have worked on many different types of industrial automation systems (Distributed Control Systems (DCS), Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), Human Machine Interfaces (HMIs), Process Historians, Quality systems, Robotics, to name a few) and in various industries all over the world. I have helped open plants, troubleshoot issues, and support our clients in becoming more efficient and productive. I have seen a lot in my 30 years on the plant floor. Once, while working to start up a plant in Bolivia, I even witnessed the sacrificing of a llama at the plant opening ceremony as a protection to ward off evil spirits!

I firmly believe in having the right tool for the job at hand. Today, a PLC/HMI architecture has many advantages over a DCS, including being much more cost effective. But one of the advantages of a DCS is that you only need to create the tag or an attribute once. A common tag is shared by the automation controllers and the HMI. While in a PLC/HMI system, traditionally you need to create the tags in the PLC and also create the tags in the HMI, then configure the I/O addressing.

Now Wonderware and Schneider Electric has come out with a new awesome feature that closes the gap between that DCS functionality and a PLC/HMI system.

The Wonderware Auto Build function allows you to read the tags and data structures directly from the PLC and automatically creates the corresponding Objects/Attributes in Wonderware System Platform. These Objects are automatically assigned the matching I/O addressing for the PLC controller. You can then easily add additional functionality such graphics, alarming or trending to your newly created Objects to bring life to your processes.

When I first saw this new feature, I knew it would save our HMI/PLC customers a tremendous amount of time and energy. For a Systems Integrator (SI) creating a new project from scratch or a plant engineer adding new functionality to an existing application, this feature is a life saver. If only this was available when I was an SI doing projects, I still might have some hair left on my head.

Want to see Auto Build in action? Watch this short video.