The objective of this project was to Safeguard the check-in and associated baggage handling system at T4 to enable the major phasing works required for the HBS upgrade in order to achieve the DfT date by providing HAL with a solid, stable platform from which to carry out required upgrade work.
To this end the four existing Siemens S5 PLCs, associated remote I/O devices and gateways controlling the check-in desks at Terminal 4 were to be replaced with robust, modern hardware and the code migrated to the new operating platform. Key to successful execution of the project was the ability to maintain 100% operational status at the check-in desks throughout the lifecycle.
The project was one which presented several technical challenges for all members of the team as this was a first of type implementation at Heathrow and demanded a close working relationship with our partners at Beumer if we were to be successful.
AAC spent a good deal of time at the outset analysing and benchmarking the existing system to prove the basis of design was on good foundations which was essential in deciding our overarching strategy and allowed us to move forward with confidence.
Once a firm basis of design had been established, we developed a strategy for the new PLC hardware, knowing that our chosen approach here would have a direct impact on the software migration and further down the line, the commissioning strategies. A new Profibus network was installed to replicate the current architecture, allowing AAC to install and test all new network components without disturbing the existing system and with a view to removing the old system once the new system was operational.
The first key element of this project was the migration of the software from Siemens S5 to the modern S7-1500 platform and TIA Portal, a major hurdle for the Terminal 4 stakeholders, knowing the risks involved. There are multiple possible routes to achieve this however Siemens themselves recommend that this is done in two main stages, the first taking the software to SIMATIC Step7 and then on to TIA Portal however this leads to a lot of redundant code generated during the translation process and several software disconnects that need to be rectified on an individual basis.
The AAC approach to the software migration did not conform to the traditional methodology described above due to the amount of manual labour involved, instead we created and validated our own tools to support the migration process. The approach taken proved so successful that all PLC go live events were executed on time and all were successful, justifying the time taken up-front to get the process and tools right.
The site work was the second key element and needed to be carefully planned and approached with care. AAC were required to commission the new software and revert to the existing system each night. A process was put in place and teams of dedicated commissioning engineers were on hand each night to manage the migration process, an unavoidable and painstaking task but one which was necessary to avoid operational downtime and one which was completed successfully for all four PLCs.
All four of the newly migrated PLC systems went live on time and with no downtime, giving the end-user confidence that the risks associated with projects such as this could be mitigated and that a successful outcome was possible. Now the DfT works scheduled within the wider project could take place using a robust platform, avoiding the frailties of outdated hardware.
“AAC went above and beyond our expectations to provide an outstanding solution to our problem using innovative and market-leading ideas”
HAL Baggage Engineering Manager
All four of the new migrated PLC systems went live on time and with no downtime, giving the end user confidence that the risks associated with projects such as this could be mitigated and that a successful outcome was possible. Now the DfT works undertaken by our partners at Beumer could take place using a robust platform, avoiding the frailties of outdated hardware.
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