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A novel approach for supporting the development cycle of automation systems


The growing complexity of current automation applications demand clear methodologies and procedures in order to assure that the system under design meets the requirements. Within the industrial automation field there are several methods, techniques, tools and standards that have captured the experience of designers through years of practice. On the other hand, the software engineering discipline offers different methodologies covering the different phases of the life cycle (analysis, design, test and maintenance). This work pretends to take advantage of both: the maturity of the software engineering discipline and the well-spread methods and standards of the industrial automation field. In particular, the proposed methodological approach uses model based engineering principles for developing automation control systems combining modeling methods of automation field. Specifically, it combines GEMMA (Guide d'Étude des Modes de Marches et d'Arrêts), UML (Unified Modeling Language) use case diagrams and GRAFCET (GRAphe Fonctionnel de Commande, Etapes, Transitions) for assisting the designer during the analysis, design and coding phases. Using GEMMA, the states of the automated process are identified. Use case diagrams allow identifying the actors that participate in the operation modes. Finally, a set of GRAFCET templates assists in the design of use cases. Thus, the user is guided through the development phases in which the concepts used are familiar to him/her. The final step includes the automatic generation of the Program Organization Units (POUs) in PLCopen XML interface. The proposed methodology is illustrated by means of a simple but illustrative mechatronic case study.

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Correspondence to M. L. Alvarez or A. Burgos.

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Alvarez, M.L., Estévez, E., Sarachaga, I. et al. A novel approach for supporting the development cycle of automation systems. Int J Adv Manuf Technol 68, 711–725 (2013).

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  • Industrial automation systems
  • Design methodology
  • PLCopen