From simulation to virtual commissioning

From simulation to virtual commissioning

At Lenze, more and more concrete application possibilities are increasing the benefits of the digital twin.

The vision of Industry 4.0 is closely linked to the digital twin. However, since the degree of standardisation of the individual development tools is currently still low, there are considerable gaps in the consistency. In the area of simulation, some of them can now be closed. Consequently, significant efficiency gains are already possible today through digital engineering.

The digital transformation of the economy does not stop at the development departments of mechanical engineering. CAD (Computer-Aided Design), CAE (Computer-Aided Engineering) and CAM (Computer-Aided Manufacturing) are increasingly being expanded by smart tools that automate processes, reduce the use of time and resources, and continuously control and improve the quality of the development steps.

More efficient processes and an improved time-to-market are essential factors in order to be able to hold one's own in the increasingly fierce global competition. With the digital twin or the Asset Administration Shell (AAS), the industry has designed a concept that decisively drives this development. The goal is an uninterrupted flow of information across the entire life cycle of machines and plants: from data from models in the early development phase, to machine data from the production phase, to asset management, maintenance and repair.

Paths to digital simulation In reality, however, there are still gaps in the continuity, as the degree of standardisation of the development tools is currently low. On the developer side, there is therefore constant uncertainty as to whether the supplier of components and devices supports the respective development tools with suitable data formats.

Lenze accompanied and promoted digitisation in mechanical engineering and the concept of the management shell at a very early stage. Now the company is going one step further and extending its support for partners to simulation and virtual commissioning. In doing so, Lenze is closing some critical gaps. OEMs benefit from expanded digital engineering options in the design, development and production of machines and systems.

The decisive cornerstone is already laid by a 3D simulation model, which provides a relatively general model of a machine. This results in simpler diagnostics of complex machines. If one goes a step further and refines the 3D model, concrete statements about the behaviour of the machine can already be predicted, such as the throughput to be achieved in operation. If the model is adapted to the specific machine in even more detail, it can be used to simulate the behaviour and also the entire manufacturing process on the machine, i.e. including the machine's logics and including error management, change of operating modes and parameterisation. At this stage of development, even a virtual commissioning of the machine is possible.

Defusing "pain points" of the OEMs

Lenze itself uses some of the best-known simulation tools, in particular the following applications:

  • SimulationX from ESI ITI: simulation and drive dimensioning;
  • ISG-virtuos from ISG: virtual commissioning;
  • Virtual Teachware by Forward TTC: augmented & virtual reality for HMI and machine diagnostics as well as learning software for virtual training.

In any case, the ultimate goal is to solve the critical issues at this stage of the life cycle: Experience shows that the requirements of machine builders include topics such as better diagnostics, shorter development times or more precise planning when dimensioning drives.

Machine builders can use these applications for themselves and rely on Lenze. The manufacturer advises on the selection of suitable tools and can provide support in modelling simulations and virtual commissioning, so that these applications can be run directly at the customer's premises. The first projects have already been realised, and Lenze has also prepared a corresponding showcase that demonstrates the procedure and the extended possibilities of digital engineering through simulation and virtual commissioning.

Development continues

While different data models are still required for the various applications today, standardised formats and interfaces are to be used in the future. Corresponding concepts have already been developed under the names FMU (Functional Mock-up Units) or FMI (Functional Mock-up Interfaces). Lenze supports the common tools available on the market and is also continuously developing its toolchain for digital engineering.

Whether it's better diagnostics, shorter development times or more precise planning when dimensioning drives: simulation in digital engineering and parallel engineering allow machine concepts to be implemented efficiently and quickly and cost-intensive rework to be avoided. This is made possible by interdisciplinary development, in which control and IoT software in particular can be tested and validated on a virtual machine in the early concept and development phases.