Developers still see great optimisation potential in software-based solutions for virtual planning in mechanical engineering. The new virtualisation solution from Siemens provides new (function) modules especially for drive technology. Above all, the engineering and project planning phase can be significantly shortened.
Achievements such as "Totally Integrated Automation", "Internet of Things" (IoT), "Cloud" or "Edge Computing" as well as many other technologies prove every day that modern automation relies intensively on software-based solutions. The particular added value for industry is that, in contrast to purely hardware-based solutions, these can be optimised more quickly and adapted more flexibly to requirements.
Drive technology also benefits from this to a great extent. In recent years, the trend towards systematic use of drive technology parameters in higher-level cloud systems such as "Mindsphere" from Siemens has become established among users in various industries. In short, digitisation strategies and software use are shaping the image of modern drive and automation technology today more than ever - and they are increasing the desire for "more".
End-to-end digitalisation begins with planning
This "more" focuses on virtualisation and simulation, because digitalisation means more than Internet of Things. Anyone aiming for end-to-end digitalisation needs functioning solutions for planning or virtualising machines and plants right at the start of the engineering chain. This is why Siemens provides the device information required for virtualisation in a targeted manner - especially in drive technology.
"Sinamics DriveSim Basic" is the name of the new Siemens solution, with which the individual drives are mapped as self-contained function blocks for the first time. The virtual drive is available as a standardised FMU model (Functional Mockup Unit), which offers compatibility with many simulation programs commonly available on the market. Regardless of whether the user simulates with Siemens solutions such as SIMIT, Simcenter Amesim, NX Motion or other common tools (e.g. Matlab Simulink) - many time-based simulation tools "understand" an FMU.
Together with other virtual Siemens solutions, such as Simatic S7-PLCSIM Advanced or NX Mechatronics Concept Designer, a continuous model-based development process can be implemented. Model-based system engineering (MBSE) can thus be realised. The user benefits directly from the practical knowledge of drive and control technology that has been incorporated directly into the model from the development of the Sinamics devices.
The main difference to previous solutions is the in-house validation of the models against real Sinamics drive constellations in the Siemens test field. The comparison between the virtual and real instance is based on the same test vectors that are also applied to the real devices during the release process. In short: with these function blocks, users receive verified and validated "digital twins" of their drive hardware at the push of a button.
Drive data from the library
The focus is always on the "Ease of Use" character. While users of simulation programs are used to generating the models required for the simulation task themselves from the information provided by the device manufacturers, with "Sinamics DriveSim Basic" they now receive closed and tested entities. The special feature is that the models accurately adhere to the existing drive documentation, i.e. the function diagrams, with which the user is already familiar.
In contrast to the real product, the user only has to configure the part of the drive that he really needs for his simulation purpose. Users have it in their own hands how precise their model may be. There is no need for a time-consuming complete commissioning of the drive. Especially since the information required for this is often not available in the design phase. This focus saves time accordingly. This speeds up the entire planning phase of the drive environment and also increases the informative value and thus the quality of the planning.
The time saved by users can sometimes be considerable: estimates by the manufacturer suggest that it takes about a week's work to recreate drives manually in simulation programs oneself - assuming one has the appropriate expertise in drive technology simulation. Most of the time would be taken up by tests and validations against the real drive, especially since the drive may not even be precisely defined and procured at such an early design stage when the simulation is used. With the new simulation solution, it is therefore possible to design the customer's application with an open drive without having to commit to a specific drive project too early in the design process.
By Frank Paetow, Portfolio Manager Simulation & Virtualisation, and Christian Neugebauer is Platform Architect Drive Models at Siemens AG in Erlangen, Germany