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[EN] Success Story ArianeGroup


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ArianeGroup benefits from a 184% Return of Investment when using PLC Checker thanks to quicker commissioning and easier maintenance.

Find out more about the use of PLC Checker for the quality control of PLC programs in the aerospace, defence, and security industries in our ArianeGroup success story.

Published in: Engineering
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[EN] Success Story ArianeGroup

  1. 1. User Story Improving PLC program quality in the aerospace and defence industries - 1 The context ArianeGroup is a world leader in the design, development and manufacture of solid rocket motors for missiles and space launchers. Their products meet demanding requirements for safety, performance, reliability and availability. The challenge The very demanding domain of activity of ArianeGroup requires advanced quality control of the manufacturing process. However, the company previously had no way to verify software quality for their industrial control systems. The solution PLC Checker, automatic verification tool for PLC programs is used systematically since 2010 on each and every new or significantly modified program. The result Return on investment estimated at around 200% by ArianeGroup with significant improvements of program quality and more efficient maintenance. Improving the quality of PLC programs in the Aerospace and Defence industries How ArianeGroup benefits from PLC Checker
  2. 2. User Story Improving PLC program quality in the aerospace and defence industries - 2 THE CONTEXT ArianeGroup is a world leader in the design, development and manufacture of solid rocket motors for missiles and space launchers. Their products meet demanding requirements for safety, performance, reliability and availability. Drawing on more than 70 years of experience and an unrivalled know-how in Europe in the field of energetic materials and thermo-structural composites for the defence and space sectors, ArianeGroup, formerly Airbus Safran Launchers, has broadened the scope of its technologies and diversified the application of its expertise into a wide range of industrial sectors. ArianeGroup has always been very focused on the quality of their manufacturing systems but previously they had no solution to measure and verify the quality of the programs embedded in their Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs). Software quality was measured by sampling and this approach was regarded as too limited to meet ArianeGroup’s strict quality requirements. THE CHALLENGE Itris Automation has first been working with ArianeGroup to define the process of how to follow the quality of the PLC programs thanks to a better measurement of the compliance with ArianeGroup’s rules and standards. The original method used by ArianeGroup consisted in manual code reviews to verify compliance. Unfortunately, this approach had many drawbacks: relevance and precision of the review was highly dependent on the person in charge and exhaustive review was basically impossible because of the huge volume of code. The cost of the approach was also a strong limit when reviewing large applications. Finally, the return on investment of this mandatory activity was considered as very low. As a consequence, the development teams were looking for a solution and they discovered the PLC Checker tool, a collaborative solution for the static analysis of PLC programs. PLC Checker allows the detection of programming mistakes, the computation of quality metrics and the verification of compliance with standards. ArianeGroup was also very interested by the fact that industry leaders such as Schneider Electric, EDF, Areva, Renault and Engie were already using the solution. ArianeGroup has defined formal rules for the development of their PLC programs.
  3. 3. User Story Improving PLC program quality in the aerospace and defence industries - 3 After a first pilot project, ArianeGroup concluded that PLC Checker was the right solution to automatically and systematically control software quality as requested by their internal standards and with an independent third-party approach. Pascal POTHIER, Automation Project Manager at ArianeGroup, explains: “We decided to leverage PLC Checker for two different usages. First, we wanted to do some one-shot audits at the end of the development, to take a “picture” of the quality. Then, we decided to deploy PLC Checker during the whole development, to make a “movie” to see how quality was evolving and allowing bugs to be fixed as early as possible.” “All system integrators working on our programs are trained and granted a license of PLC Checker for the duration of the project. They can take as many “pictures” as they want to build the “movie” and we are very satisfied with such a continuous improvement approach.” THE SOLUTION ArianeGroup and Itris Automation teams collaborated to deploy PLC Checker step by step. First, Itris Automation engineers created a set of coding rules for ArianeGroup by adapting the PLC Checker rules to their client’s standards and practices. Then, at the end of 2009 and beginning of 2010, several tests were conducted on three programs and quality reports were issued. All three programs had originally been written by three different system integrators and the PLC Checker audit showed a serious diversity in coding practices. A couple of months later, ArianeGroup decided to use PLC Checker systematically on each and every new, migrated or significantly modified PLC program. Feedback from developers and users of PLC Checker has been taken into account to improve the rules over the last nine years. Pascal POTHIER further explains: “Between 2010 and 2012, we improved our compliance ratio from 63% to 85% and between 2013 and 2016, we started to really reach our quality objectives. This goes to prove that the formalization and standardization of the development process has a great effect and we have been able to significantly improve the maintainability of our programs.” PLC Checker improves the maintainability and readability of PLC programs thanks to more consistent programming style.
  4. 4. User Story Improving PLC program quality in the aerospace and defence industries - 4 THE RESULT After these first use cases, ArianeGroup decided to use PLC Checker more widely and to roll out its use amongst their different factories. “After almost ten years of using it, we can consider that the deployment of PLC Checker is a success », adds Pascal POTHIER. « Of course, at the beginning, system integrators were reluctant but they have been convinced by the tool itself and now agree that this is necessary in our industry. Since we began using PLC Checker, our Factory Acceptance Tests have been quicker and more efficient. Plus, the maintenance of the programs is easier. We estimate the return on investment of the usage of PLC Checker to roughly 200% just by counting the savings in the test and commissioning phases. The programs are easier to read and thus to modify and correct in the factory. Also, thanks to a better consistency, the training of our maintenance team is faster.” The next step for ArianeGroup is to systematise the use of PLC Checker in the maintenance phase, by using the tool at the beginning and end of their retrofit projects to ensure that quality objectives are met across all projects. PLC Checker is available for  CoDeSys v2.x, v3.x  Beckoff TwinCAT 2 and 3  ICS Triplex ISaGRAF 4.12  Phoenix Contact PC Worx and MULTIPROG 5.50  PLCopen XML  Rockwell Automation RSLogix 5, RSLogix 500, and RSLogix 5000  Schneider Electric Unity Pro, PL7 Pro, Orphee, XTEL, and SoMachine 4  Siemens Step5, Step7, and TIA Portal  Yokogawa Stardom Easier maintenance and optimized troubleshooting are a significant source of return on investment when using PLC Checker.
  5. 5. User Story Improving PLC programs quality in the aerospace and defence industries - 5 About Itris Automation Based in Grenoble, France, Itris Automation is a software engineering company that provides development and production tools for the verification, conversion, documentation and troubleshooting of PLC codes to complement the programming tools of international PLC vendors. Thanks to their advanced technologies, Itris Automation helps companies improve their development processes and thus deliver higher quality programs in shorter timeframes. The Itris Automation team are experts in software quality and coding standards, and they have combined their knowledge and skills to provide innovative solutions for the industry. Schneider Electric, EDF, Sanofi, Ford, Eiffage, Soitec, and ArianeGroup are among Itris Automation’s main customers. For more information, please visit our website