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Accelerate development with virtual commissioning

The project "Virtual Commissioning with Smart Hybrid Prototyping" (VIB-SHP) delivers results. Its IT reference architecture and modular system open up new possibilities for bringing complex production plants to the factory more quickly.

As part of VIB-SHP, well-known industrial companies, software manufacturers and research institutes are now providing a scalable mechatronic kit for "Smart Hybrid Prototyping". It forms the basis for an interactive 3D development environment in which even medium-sized companies can efficiently secure the commissioning of production plants. CONTACT Software supplies central components for this.

Plant construction in flux

The fourth industrial revolution is making production systems ever smarter. They become part of a digitally networked factory environment in which various system components and services work together dynamically. However, this makes the development of production plants even more complex. One measure: virtual reality (VR) hedging processes in the sense of front loading before the first setups take place.

Driven by strong competition and cost pressure, configure-to-order strategies are also increasingly gaining acceptance in plant construction. Production systems are configured from predefined platform components before the first engineer is involved in an engineer-to-order process.

Virtual commissioning enables companies to avoid late, costly changes and bring plants to the factory more quickly. However, high costs for the development of platform-enabled components, a lack of capacity to build simulation-capable models and new requirements for the IT infrastructure often prevent medium-sized machine and plant construction companies from benefiting from such technologies.

Simulation models from the kit

A fundamental result of VIB-SHP is a modular system that supplements the classic models (PLC/E-CAD, M-CAD) with behavior models and VR information. Their representation as a cyber-physical product data model enables a cross-disciplinary view of the partial models at the level of production stations.

The modular system promotes the reuse of the models and reduces redundant work in the individual development projects. In particular, the effort for the additional development of behavior models is thus minimized and makes digital validation processes also interesting for small and medium-sized businesses.

Transparent engineering change processes

Engineering change processes often begin in one discipline or with the customer. However, their effects are often interdisciplinary and therefore make safe execution a challenge time and again. For this reason, VIB-SHP attaches great importance to integrated data storage in the sense of a cyberphysical product model, so that inconsistencies between discipline-specific models such as mechanics, electrics/electronics and PLC become visible. This allows misunderstandings in communication to be identified and eliminated earlier, significantly reducing the risk of costly rework.

Flexible IT architecture

Companies are increasingly dependent on being able to adapt their IT landscape quickly, flexibly and cost-effectively to changing requirements. Gartner therefore advocates a bimodal IT architecture that also takes account of an agile approach. For this reason, VIB-SHP relies on an open architecture: The open source software TUI Framework developed by Fraunhofer IPK allows different simulation solutions to be orchestrated dynamically in a co-simulation. With WINMOD, SimLine, PhysX-Engine and Autodesk VRED, an impressive virtual image of the production system has been created.

Within this environment, CIM Database PLM acts as a data management system for the development domains and data providers for virtual commissioning. Through innovative interfaces using formats such as AutomationML, we have designed an IT landscape that meets today's requirements for consistency and can be flexibly adapted at the same time.

Virtual validation of controls and ergonomics

Control programs are usually only tested during a test setup of the system or at the customer's site. With virtual commissioning, they can be fully validated at an early stage in the development process. Haptic, acoustic or safety-related aspects can also be experienced and evaluated directly in virtual reality. The degree of maturity of the validation is significantly improved compared to a validation on the 2D screen.

The Consortium

Beckhoff Automation, EDAG Production Solutions, MEWES & Partner, Jonas & Redmann and PROMESS supported VIB-SHP as industry partners. VR expertise comes from Datenflug and nVIZ. CONTACT Software and PSI Automotive & Industry have contributed their know-how in the fields of PLM and ERP. The TU Berlin and the supervising Fraunhofer Institute for Production Systems and Design Technology (IPK) provided scientific support for the project.

Your contact:

Lucas Kirsch
Product management & Consulting



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