The Digital Twin and Its Effect on Automation Efficiencies
Manufacturing companies today face many challenges to ensure their long-term competitiveness. The competition is fierce and customer requirements are becoming more and more individualized, resulting in increasing complexity of machine design and longer and more expensive commissioning time. To be able to respond appropriately, plant operators have to shorten their time-to-market and become more efficient and flexible, while maintaining or even improving their quality. So what should a company do beyond trying to optimize its normal automation processes?
The answer lies in Digitalization and the intelligent use of data generated from a common base to form a Digital Twin. The Digital Twin is a virtual representation of the machine which can be used to evaluate different automation concepts in the early phase of a project, reduce the commissioning time and accidents on site, and even assist with advanced training for machine operators. In this presentation, Mr. Gavin will discuss software tools from Siemens Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) portfolio and how their STEP 7 and TIA Portal SW are used to simulate and test the controller functions right at the configuration and engineering stages, with no need for real hardware. He will review the comprehensive simulation of Siemens controller functionalities with PLCSim Advanced, which allows connections to virtual models of machines and plant behavior via an open Application Program Interface (API).
Virtual models of the machine can be created with Siemens NX Mechatronics Concept Designer (MCD) software, and these models are far more than just 3D representations of the machine. The models can be animated to simulate the real behavior of the machine as it can be controlled by the program running in the virtual controller via PLCSim Advanced. In addition, the MCD software contains a physics engine which can be configured to allow for the effects of gravity, torque and friction on the machine and parts moving through the machine. The result is a high quality simulation of the machine which can bring the following benefits:
- Improved quality via optimizing the controller project and machine functionality in a virtual environment
- Reduced time to market via parallel operation of mechanical and automation engineering, and less time for commissioning at end-customer plant
- More flexibility in creating alternative control concepts in the design phase
- Reduced costs and risks because of reduced commissioning time and fewer faults during the real commissioning