This article explores how simulation and digital twin software can accelerate digital transformation by enabling the concept, design, testing, training, installation, upgrade, and optimization of automated systems to improve the competitiveness of enterprises.
The use of simulation software and digital twins can help achieve effective integration of automation and control to increase competitiveness. System integrators need to understand the needs of their customers, and visualizing the needs of these projects in simulations often results in better results. Simulation is an underutilized strategy, and Keith Mandachit, an Engineering manager at Huffman Engineering, expects to see “more of it as we move into the digital age.”
Simulation software makes it possible to test before installation. It enables innovation by testing concepts and strategies without the capital expenditure of building systems. It allows operators to be trained before the system is ready to operate. All of these evaluation components mean that when the actual design is combined, the design is smarter, faster, and more accurate.
Craig Salvalaggio, chief operating officer of Applied Manufacturing Technologies (AMT), said simulation software can be used to replicate discrete events, simulate factory processes and workflows, and perform virtual commissioning for automation projects.
Digital Twin For Automation and Control
Digital twin software can help create and thoroughly test machines or processes without the need for physical build and installation. For example, suppose a project is considering running a conveyor through a machine. Creating simulations can show whether the machine design can keep up with the speed at which the conveyor runs, or easily show how a smaller machine can still meet goals and fit into a smaller space. Digital twins can help train operators even before the system starts production.
Until more details are provided for digital twins, “we can always program simulations in software, connect switches and force them, manipulate data and register values, and see how the logic works.” “Mandachit said. Expanding it into a digital twin can show more of how processes interact and help plan, design, test, and upgrade control system designs. ‘Now we can test the code and the whole process in advance, not just in bits and pieces,’ he said.
Salvalaggio suggests that digital twins can show how components are introduced into the unit of work and determine the impact on the work process, actions, and perimeter protection of the designed application to better plan, view the scene, and perform virtual debugging.
The Benefits of Simulation Software Are Extended With Digital Twins
As a visual planning tool, simulation can bring a lot of value to the conceptualization of plant system design, which is more helpful than a two-dimensional layout.
Going one step further, the software can simulate feed, payload, kinematics, robots, conveyors, product flow, and process throughput, which goes far beyond the design of a single work unit. Advanced simulation facilitates more engineering-level work, provides feedback for offline programming, and reduces system integration and field installation time.
The most useful and challenging is the complete digital twin, which is constantly updated with changes from as-built drawings of work units to actual plant conditions. As part of the workflow, new information requires updating the digital model to realize more value.
As simulation and digital twin software capabilities continue to evolve, so do costs. Salvalaggio predicts that “five years from now, I think we’ll see digital twins gain more widespread adoption,” especially as large companies develop a large number of implementable solutions that deliver significant value gains.
Digital twins can help manufacturing companies optimize, “before risking time and resources to make physical changes to the system, to see if analog changes will deliver the expected returns.” “Mandachit said. The use of analog and digital twins helps factories better plan to adapt to production needs and changes.
7 Tips for Efficient Use of Simulation Software
ChatGPT has his answer on how simulation software can help implement digital transformation. Control Engineering magazine recently asked ChatGPT how simulation software is used in automation and control applications and received the following response. Simulation software can be a powerful tool for digital transformation upgrades as it allows programming upgrades, redesigns, optimizations, and training to be tested in a safe and controlled environment before being implemented in the physical environment of the factory floor. Seven tips can help you use simulation software efficiently for automation and control:
- Determine the scope of simulation: Clearly define the process to be simulated, including all inputs, outputs, and other relevant factors affecting the system.
- Choose the right simulation software: Choose simulation software that can accurately represent the system being modeled and has the functions required for analysis.
- Accurate data collection: Collect accurate data about the modeling process, such as input/output data, operational parameters, and other relevant information. This information will help ensure that the simulation accurately represents the physical system.
- Verify the simulation: After the simulation is complete, verify the simulation by comparing its results with the actual results of the real physical system. This will help ensure the accuracy and reliability of the simulation.
- Use simulation for training: Simulation software can be used to train operators and engineers on new processes or upgrades. It provides a safe and controlled environment for testing and learning without the risk of damage to the actual system.
- Use simulation for optimization: Simulation software can also be used to optimize the process. By testing various scenarios and Settings, engineers can determine the most efficient and effective way to run the system.
- Iteration and optimization: Use simulation software to test and refine various design, upgrade, or optimization strategies before factory implementation. This helps save time and resources and prevents costly errors.
Simulation software can be a valuable tool for automation and control applications, allowing upgrades, redesigns, optimizations, and training to be tested in a safe and controlled environment. By following best practices and using appropriate software, engineers can improve the accuracy, reliability, and efficiency of control systems.