Sinamics S120 Software Setup

This blog introduces “STARTER” and “TIA Portal STARTDRIVE” software’s, used for controlling single phase and three phase motors. Installation procedure for both the software’s are discussed.


Starter is a commissioning tool from siemens, used to configure and control SINAMICS drives for automation. The software can be ordered in the DVD format or can be downloaded from the official siemens website. The software can be used free of charge without entering a license key.

If you choose to download the software from website, select the current version of the zip folder to download. Unzip the folder and execute “start.exe” file. Follow the setup instructions on your screen.

To open software click on STARTER icon or do the following Windows Start > SIMATIC > STEP 7 > STARTER. Using STARTER we can only configure the drive, but cannot program it. TIA Portal STARTDRIVE can be used to program different logics on the drive.

TIA Portal Startdrive

Siemens TIA Portal is the engineering software for industrial automation. The current version of the software does not support “Drive Parameterization”. To control the motor drives using TIA Portal, STARTDRIVE should be integrated into TIA Portal.

The current version of STARTDRIVE can be downloaded from siemens website as a zip folder. The version of the STARTDRIVE should match with the version of TIA Portal on your computer (For example STARTDRIVE V16 will not work with TIA Portal V15.1). Unzip and execute “.exe” file. Restart the computer and open TIA Portal, the STARTDRIVE “Drive Parameterization” should be integrated into TIA portal as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Before (left) and after (right) integrating STARTDRIVE into TIA Portal.

At the time of writing this blog, TIA Portal STARTDRIVE V15.1, Control Unit CU310–2PN, Power Module PM240–2, and Synchronous motor 1FK7 are used. The limitation of STARTDRIVE V15.1 is that it does not include all the S120 control units as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Missing S120 Control Units on STARTDRIVE V15.1

There are two options to solve this problem.

  1. Upgrade TIA Portal to V16 and install STARTDRIVE V16, as all the S120 Control Units are present in V16. (To do so, you need upgrade license for V15.1 > V16)
  2. Use General Station Description (GSD) file on STARTDRIVE V15.1. (Recommended way if you don’t have upgrade license)

GSD File

GSD is a description of an IO device provided by the device manufacturer. The contents of the GSD consists of configuration information, parameters, modules, diagnostic and alarms, and vendor and device identification.

The GSD file can be downloaded from the siemens website. Download the zip folder onto your computer directory and unzip it. Open TIA Portal (V15.1), go to Options > Manage general station description files (GSD). A dialog will open as shown in Figure 3, select the directory where you downloaded the GSD folder as source path and click on install.

Figure 3. Installing S120 Control Unit GSD files.

Once the GSD files installation completes, the hardware catalog should be updated as shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4. Updating Hardware Catalog.

You can now drag and drop any kind of S120 Control Units from hardware catalog as shown in Figure 5, into TIA Portal V15.1 working area.

Figure 5. S120 Control Units added to TIA Portal V15.1 Hardware Catalog.

Software Update

To stay out from software errors, you need to check for software updates and install them. This can be done by using TIA Updater as shown in Figure 6.

Figure 6. Software update using TIA Updater.

Co-Researcher at National Electronics and Computer Technology Center (NECTEC)