Virtual commissioning of machines and plants is of great value if applied the right way and given some requirements are fulfilled. Development and commissioning times are shortened, a considerable increase in production efficiency is achieved.
Virtual commissioning is for example recommended if a machine features very complex processes or the time frame of the real commissioning is very tight. It is further more of great value if expensive material is needed for test purposes. When extending or reconstructing machines, down times can be reduced which in the end leads to more project planning certainty.
A system’s real commissioning (plant, machine, robot) is typically effected after mounting and function tests are successfully completed. During the real commissioning various tests at rated loads are effected - according to requirements and agreements. Important elements are capability tests and the successful completion of the certificate of performance. The latter comprises the technical system as well as the production. Given a successful performance test, the responsibility for the technical system is then generally handed over from the producer to the user. Afterwards, the technical system is put into operation. (BAUMANN & LOOSCHELDERS, 1982).
Commissioning can make up up to 25% of the total project cycle time. More than 70% of commissioning time is required for the complete software programming (VDW 1997). Especially for plants that are to be integrated into an existing production system, commissioning can be shortened considerably by starting the software programming already in the construction phase.
Virtual commissioning (Definition)
Importing and testing planning data on a computer, the so-called „virtual system“ (or „digital twin“), is called virtual commissioning. Depending on the specification of the simulation system, the static (if necessary) but in any case the dynamic commissioning is effected. The thus by the help of this mechatronical model optimized programs are afterwards transferred onto the real system (plant, machine, robot). The virtual commissioning helps finding and correcting failures at a very early development stage. Additional work and expenses on the real system can thus be avoided from the very beginning.
Most important part of the virtual commissioning is the 3D simulation that pictures the system behaviour on a 1:1 basis. Anything – from single systems (machine, robot) up to entire factories (“digital factories”) - can be represented. As such, complex connections regarding material flow and robot controls can be pictured which enables the optimization of the entire production planning. Today, the virtual commissioning is firmly established in many companies.
Thanks to virtual commissioning, the concertation of mechanics, electrics and software are strongly improved – already long before the real commissioning at site. The delivery quality is greatly increased, uncalculable time losses during real commissioning at the client’s site are avoided. With a virtual commissioning started in an early development phase, commissioning times are shortened, development and realization works are reduced and process / product quality are secured. Production costs are efficiently decreased. Excursus: Control levels of virtual commissioning ...
Virtual commissioning (Advantages and limits)
Undoubtedly, the virtual commissioning cannot completely replace the real commissioning given that it is not possible to simulate the human factor (incorrect wiring, changed sensor positions, …) – operating errors only become visibly during real commissioning.
Initially, the 3D modelling faces an increased effort which however quickly changes into the opposite when considering the avoided costs for failure removal and the faster reach of the profit zone. Experience shows that virtual commissioning increases efficiency and minimizes costs. Test and development of control programs can be started when the machine is not even in production. Development times are shortened, failure sources are turned off in time and commissioning costs are minimized. At the same time, critical situations far too risky for effecting on the real system can be run. Ergo: By virtually commissioning your systems, you „play safe“. Advantages at a glance ...
Virtual commissioning with ISG-virtuos
ISG-virtuos enables the Hardware-in-the-Loop simulation ("HiLS") of automation systems in hard realtime („control realtime“ (<1ms)). HiLS is necessary especially for fast processes in the fields of machinery and plant engineering as well as robot technology when the simulation is meant to picture the behaviour of real systems without limitations. Given their missing realtime ability, many simulation systems are in these cases reaching their limits.
Surpassing the one-time use of the digital twins for the layout of their systems, a growing number of plant and machine producers as well as production companies of differing branches successfully rely on the so-called „simulation-based engineering“.
Simulation solutions for many fields
Given its open software architecture ISG-virtuos supports the automation and engineering of machines, plants and robots irrespective of the industrial sector. Our clients mainly but not exclusively are working in the following fields:
- (Special) Machinery and plant construction
- Packaging industry
- Process engineering
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