Virtual commissioning

Virtual commissioning


Virtual commissioning ("VIBN") is the importing and testing of planning data on a computer, the so-called "virtual system" - increasingly also known as "digital twin". Depending on the design of the simulation system, static IBN may be performed, but in any case dynamic IBN. The programs optimized with the help of this mechatronic model are then transferred to the real system (plant, machine, robot). With the help of VIBN, errors are detected and eliminated at an early stage of development. Additional work and costs on the real system can thus be avoided from the outset.

The most important component of the virtual commissioning is the 3D simulation, which reproduces the system behavior 1:1. From individual systems (machine, robot) to the entire factory ("digital factory"), everything can be mapped. In this way, even complex interrelationships with regard to material flow and robot control can be reproduced, making it possible to optimize the entire production planning. Virtual commissioning is now firmly established in many companies.

With the help of VIBN, the interaction of mechanics, electrics and software is significantly improved - even before the actual commissioning on site. The quality of delivery is thus increased immensely, and incalculable time losses during real commissioning at the customer's site can be avoided. With a virtual commissioning set up in the early development phase, commissioning times are shortened, development and realization efforts are reduced, and process and product quality are ensured. Production costs are effectively reduced. Excursus: Control levels of VIBN

The virtual commissioning ("VIBN") of machines and plants in production has a high benefit, if it is used correctly and some prerequisites are fulfilled. Development and commissioning times are shortened, and a significant increase in production efficiency is achieved.

VIBN is recommended, for example, when a machine has very complex processes or the time window for commissioning the real plant is very narrow. It is also worthwhile if expensive materials have to be used to test a machine. In addition, downtimes can be reduced when expanding or converting existing plants, which ultimately leads to more security in project planning.

Virtual commissioning (VIBN)
Virtual commissioning (VIBN)
Gain in quality and time through VIBN
Quelle: VDMA Leitfaden VIBN

Real commissioning

Real commissioning

The real commissioning ("real IBN") of a system (plant, machine, robot) classically takes place after completion of the assembly and passed operational function tests. Depending on the requirements and agreements, numerous operational tests at different nominal loads are carried out in the course of real commissioning. Important components here are the testing of performance and the provision of proof of performance. The latter covers both the technical system and production. Upon successful completion of the performance verification, responsibility for the technical system generally passes from the manufacturer to the operator. Thereafter, operation of the technical system usually begins (BAUMANN & LOOSCHELDERS, 1982).

Commissioning can account for up to 25% of the total lead time of a project. More than 70% of the required time for IBN is needed for the complete programming of the software (VDW 1997). Especially for plants that are integrated into existing production systems, commissioning can be shortened by starting programming already during design by means of virtual commissioning.

Virtual commissioning with ISG-virtuos


ISG-virtuos enables model, software and hardware-in-the-loop simulation of automation systems. The latter is necessary due to real-time requirements, especially for fast processes in the areas of mechanical and plant engineering as well as robotics, if the simulation is to represent the behavior of real systems without restrictions. Due to the lack of real-time capability, many simulation systems reach their limits here.

Increasingly, plant and mechanical engineers as well as production companies in various industries are successfully relying on so-called "simulation-based engineering" - beyond the one-time use of digital twins for the design of their system.


Virtual commissioning

Advantages and limits

It is undisputed that VIBN cannot completely replace real commissioning, since it is impossible to simulate the "human factor" (incorrect wiring, changed sensor positions, ...) - "operating errors" only become visible during real commissioning.

Initially, 3D modeling is faced with increased effort, but this quickly turns into the opposite when the avoided costs for error elimination and the earlier achievement of the profit zone are considered. Experience shows that virtual commissioning increases efficiency and minimizes costs. Testing and development of control programs can begin even before the machine is manufactured. Development times are shortened, sources of error are eliminated in time and commissioning costs are minimized. At the same time, critical situations can be played out that would be too risky on a real system. Ergo: With virtual commissioning, you "play it safe".

The advantages at a glance: 


  • Early clarification of customer requirements
  • Parallel development of software and mechatronics
  • Improved communication between mechanical and electrical engineering
  • No unproductive waiting, as the control system can be tested independently of area
  • Higher motivation of control engineers, as they can test their software at an early stage of the project and also get visual feedback
  • Validation of control system and user interfaces even before the first prototype is built
  • Compliance with even narrow time windows for commissioning the real system
  • Reduced travel costs and family-friendly work due to shortened IBN on site
  • Avoidance of follow-up costs from rework, goodwill and warranties
  • Security in project planning
  • Fast testing of many conditions and scenarios, even for complex processes
  • Saving of expensive materials for test runs on the real system
  • Testing of alternative control concepts on the model at any time, without mechanical setup
  • Capacity tests easily possible
  • Tests of (extreme) malfunctions, which are often not possible at all on the real machine
  • No damage to the real system possible
  • Reduction of downtimes in case of extension / modification of real systems
  • Risk minimization with short conversion periods
  • Integration and migration tests

"For successful virtual commissioning, this should be integrated into the company's own engineering at an early stage and throughout. In the case of customer-specific developments in special machine construction, a simulation model as a technical means of communication enables close coupling between the supplier and the operator. Both parties involved can compare their ideas iteratively on the model. In series machine construction, the use of simulation models is already useful in the quotation phase, in order to be able to show the operator a realistic representation of the offered product on the moving 3D model. For both special and series machine construction, sequential engineering using VIBN can be eliminated. The interactions between the individual disciplines become visible through an early consolidation of the partial results on the simulation model. Interdisciplinary teams that communicate using the simulation model develop partial solutions in agile, short cycles."

VDMA Virtual Commissioning Guide