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Simon Group case study


Simon Group case study

The German Simon Group offers a wide range of products and services including tools, spikes, sintered and plastic components, as well as a parts finishing service in its own electroplating department.

Simon was searching for a modern network infrastructure solution in two areas: “On the one hand, we wanted to create a standardized, secure option for remote maintenance and on the other, we wanted to improve the performance and availability of our entire production network,” says David Huber, plant engineering team leader at Simon. Special attention was paid to separating the production network for all plants on the site from the individual plant networks in order to enhance network maintenance and increase network security. Where possible, standard solutions were to be used to make maintaining the solution easier. Eventually, the decision was made to use products from the Siemens Scalance and Sinema industrial communications portfolio.

We wanted a clear structure in which the plant components communicate within their cell, and only relevant data is transferred to the production network. This not only facilitates the maintenance and upkeep, but also makes our network more secure,” says Huber. Together with Siemens network specialists, Huber and his colleague Sven Ostertag discussed the framework conditions. This included taking stock of the existing network, and choosing the appropriate configuration and components.

The new production network at Simon is based on an industrial Ethernet ring, to which several rings with 32 Scalance XR524 switches are redundantly connected. Simon utilizes the Sinema Server software for management and diagnosis, while the Scalance S615 Industrial Security Appliance is used to connect the subordinate plants, each of which has its own plant network. These components enable secured access to the respective plant via VPN (Virtual Private Network) and at the same time shield the cell from the production network. Secured remote access is provided by the Sinema Remote Connect management platform. 

After running for nearly a year, the project managers at Simon are very pleased with the results: Thanks to the ring structures of the network and segmentation of the entire solution into individual plant networks, the entire network is much more reliable than before. In addition to this, possible faults and errors can be quickly identified in detail and resolved using the Sinema Server management and diagnosis software. Central administration from the Sinema Server also makes plant engineering work considerably easier.

Existing plants are gradually integrated into the production network and new plants connected. In the future, Simon intends to connect the different existing systems for machine data acquisition (MDA) and production data acquisition (PDA) as well as the manufacturing execution system (MES) information to a common database.


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