Virtual Commissioning: optimization of industrial automation processes
Virtual commissioning is the practice of using “virtual” simulation technology to design, install and test control software with a virtual machine model before plugging it into the real system.
While commissioning is a crucial part of the process, it typically occurs quite late in development and it is during this phase that the most delays occur. In fact, up to 70% of delays are expected to be a result of errors in the control software
Traditional commissioning typically takes place onsite, at the physical location where the automation solution will be deployed, after you have all the tools and test equipment for manual troubleshooting. This means that some or all of your existing manufacturing processes may need to be shut down for the duration of your commissioning project, which can be costly.
With virtual commissioning, you do most of the deployment remotely, only arriving on site at the end.
Virtual Commissioning makes it possible to create a complete and tailor-made service for each customer, with broad preventive control and numerous design advantages.
Virtual Commissioning is a technology that allows to reproduce the kinematic and dynamic behavior of a machine or industrial automatic plant, in a virtual environment through a software simulation.
To do this you need to reproduce a digital twin of our application called Digital Twin. And then interface it with the command and control automation software, which will be installed on the real application.
It allows you to anticipate the testing and commissioning phase of the application even before it is physically built.
How does virtual commissioning work?
The basic idea is to create a simulation of the automation solution, i.e. a virtual model that shows how the machine will work in the process.
You use this virtual model to test different scenarios, to see how this will affect your automation solution.
This helps optimize the solution before bringing it into the physical environment. One of the biggest benefits of Virtual Commissioning is that you save time and money by being able to test an investment in equipment beforehand.
The objective of virtual commissioning is to create a 3D digital model – digital twin, which allows to test the real behavior of the application, which is an interactive virtual representation of the robotic system and the surrounding production environment, to simulate the operation planned and programmed of the robotic system.
It allows manufacturing engineers to program robotics offline and test that programming without disrupting current manufacturing operations.
It simulates much more than the robot. Through the digital twin, the robotic simulation software brings all relevant devices, equipment and structures into the same interactive 3D representation.
The simulation software is “robot agnostic” which means that it works with any brand of robot and even supports multiple robots in the same workspace.
Thanks to virtual commissioning, scenarios are created to verify that the offline programming of the robotics has created a functioning and efficient process.
You can check the flow rate and cycle times.
Through virtual commissioning it is possible to simulate motion sequences and I/O signals through a mapping with control. Once the project has been completed, tests are carried out to correct automation errors, anticipating the correct start-up and showing the project already assembled.
Application of Virtual Commissioning
In the industrial cycle it is possible to use these technologies in various cases, for example:
- Development of programs and logics for the management of industrial lines,
- Validation testing of automation programs before commissioning,
- Test production line evolutions without impacting current production.
Advantages of virtual commissioning
- Reduced time to start production,
- Reduced commissioning, debugging and rework costs,
- Less production downtime,
- Control the safety of the plant and improve the conditions of the workers,
- Analyze the efficiency of an application before it is produced,
- Avoid bottlenecks and scheduling errors, reducing production costs and improving the system as a whole.
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