PLC Connectivity for Automation Systems – MapleSim – Modeling and Simulation

PLC Connectivity for Automation Systems

Connect a MapleSim model to your automation platform to investigate machine performance, eliminate errors from your PLC code, and give you the building blocks for virtual commissioning and digital twins.

Benefits of connecting your PLC to a MapleSim model

MapleSim generates fast and efficient model code optimized for standard automation platforms. By integrating your controller software with a MapleSim model, you can:
  • Take the guesswork out of machine design by using virtual prototypes for simulation-based motor sizing, PLC code testing, inverse-kinematics and more.
  • Speed up the development of control strategies when commissioning a new machine.
  • Test PLC code in real-time for systems that require fast simulation speed.
  • Use 3-D visualizations to provide quick visual feedback on tests using automation software or the MapleSim Insight add-on.
Start building models quickly

PLC Connectivity options

Integrate your MapleSim model with your automation software in the following ways:
  • Easily convert your model to an FMU (Functional Mockup Unit) for seamless incorporation to common automation platforms including B&R Automation Studio, Beckhoff’s TwinCAT and Rockwell Studio 5000.  
  • Directly connect your automation tool to MapleSim through the open standard EtherNet/IP industrial protocol compatible with CODESYS-based systems, among others.
  • Automatically generate ANSI-C code S-Function blocks to incorporate in controllers as part of your existing toolchain.
Maplesoft Technology works with Beckoff
Maplesoft Technology works with Rockwell Automation
CodeSYS EtherNet/IP
Don't see your automation platform here? Contact us for more information.

Optimize control systems to boost your machine CPM

Use the MapleSim virtual model to find control code efficiencies and run your production hardware at peak performance.
  • Develop optimized control code by rapidly testing different strategies against a virtual machine model.
  • Fix unwanted vibrations or other machine issues before resorting to hardware upgrades.
  • Get real-time, 3-D visualizations of your machine’s response to different control strategies.

With MapleSim you can run a newly designed virtual model against your controller to test and fine tune performance.

  • Easily create your model using built-in component libraries and CAD import options.
  • Actuate and analyze the motion and operations of your machine.
  • Find ideal conditions for your machine’s operation using built-in apps including Motion Profile and Parameter Optimization, among others.
  • Connect to your existing FMI-compliant controller development toolchain.
  • Make ongoing design iterations in minutes for faster, cleaner operations!
Optimize control systems to boost your machine CPM
Virtually debug PLC code for Automation Software

Virtually debug PLC code for Automation Software

MapleSim’s high fidelity machine simulations provide a virtual test bed for controller design.

Control engineers can perform testing and debugging by running the virtual PLC code against the machine’s virtual prototype.

  • Start controller testing even before the physical prototype is created.
  • See the results of code changes at an earlier stage before modifying physical hardware.
  • Safely identify and address code or motion path errors without impacting hardware or operators.

This can result in reduced timelines for physical machine commissioning by allowing controller development to happen in parallel with the machine design – and allows errors to be found earlier before the machine design is finalized.  Cut costs and give your customers greater confidence in your ability to deliver machines, on time and on budget.

You can discover more about using MapleSim’s flexible code connectivity options here.

Develop digital models for Virtual Commissioning and Digital Twins

Creating a MapleSim digital model gives a virtual representation of your product and is the first step to applying virtual commissioning and digital twins to step up your operations.

A Digital Twin is a virtual model of a corresponding physical product that is augmented with real-time operational data feeds to respond in the same way as the physical product.  These twins serve as a powerful connection to the product for diagnostics, design changes, and maintenance.

The digital model can be used at the following stages of the product lifecycle:

Product lifecycle Infographic

The MapleSim model acts as a virtual prototype, helping the designer to evaluate parameter sensitivity and general performance expectations and selecting components, such as gears and motors.

As an essential component of modern virtual commissioning, the MapleSim model serves as a realistic simulation for fast, accurate PLC testing, ensuring that control design issues are ironed out before they reach the production floor.

When combined with physical performance data, the use of the MapleSim digital model can be extended to predict future behaviour of the system and to develop Digital Twins.

Automating the operational data updates using a cloud based digital twin solution, such as AWS IoT Twinmaker or Oracle IoT Cloud Infrastructure, lets you include a fleet of machines within the simulation of your industrial systems and facilities. This unlocks the cost-savings of predictive modeling, real-time failure detection and increased line throughput.
Using a MapleSim model with a digital twin of your machine gives value-added features that elevate your production processes, such as:

  • Assessing performance and optimizing operational throughput
  • Deploying Virtual Sensors to evaluate hard-to-measure parameters
  • Asset monitoring and real-time diagnostics for machines and controllers
  • Corrective and predictive maintenance

Read more about the steps to connect MapleSim models to a Digital Twin platform to automate tuning and introduce real-time diagnostics to your production machines.

Maplesoft’s Engineering Solutions team can guide you through the Virtual Commissioning process and create a plan for developing your Digital Twin.

Industry Examples:

Niigon Injection Molding Machines – Using Virtual Commissioning to reduce cycle times

To meet new performance requirements for a new line of horizontal injection molding machines, engineers at Niigon Machines Ltd were faced with cost-prohibitive upgrade options for a machine that was already deployed at a customer site.

Using virtual commissioning techniques with MapleSim, engineers at Niigon were able to model, analyze and optimize the production machine without removing hardware from the customer site. Niigon developed a simulation-based model in MapleSim that could replicate vibration issues they saw on the physical machines during higher production speeds. After the model was validated, their control engineers used it as a virtual test platform to diagnose their control code, all without the need for a site visit.

Model-based controls testing is a key benefit of virtual commissioning, since the engineers could run countless scenarios using only software, saving weeks of physical, on-site testing, and preventing damage to the machine.

After implementing two major optimization strategies, Niigon successfully reduced the machine cycle time by over 25%, and effectively eliminated the oscillation issues during production, without the need for a hardware upgrade.

Niigon Machines
For me, it’s a total no-brainer. You will never get the best out of your mechanical system without simulation.Marc Ricke, Controls Engineering & IT Manager, Niigon Machines Ltd.
ABB Robotics
"Being able to export to Simulink® was very important for us," said Mikael Norrlöf. "We were able to seamlessly integrate the models created with MapleSim into our test environment, without having to modify our established workflow. This was a key factor in our decision to adopt MapleSim for model creation."
ABB Robotics - Integrating digital models of robotic manipulators with existing automation software

With over 250,000 robots installed worldwide, engineers at ABB's Robotics business unit understand the challenges of designing and controlling robotic manipulators. Their design process required rigorous testing with the aid of simulation models which became very tedious when using testing tools that did not communicate well.

ABB performs system-level testing using a complex test environment built with Simulink. It was vital that the MapleSim digital model could be exported directly to Simulink®. This capability was provided by the MapleSim Connector add-on, which automatically creates S-function blocks from the symbolic system equations thus creating code that is compact and highly efficient.

ABB used MapleSim to develop high-fidelity manipulator models that included flexible joints, gears, and dynamic friction, and found MapleSim's graphical interface eliminated the need to derive and manipulate equations, drastically reducing the time needed to model a manipulator.

Using MapleSim, ABB engineers was able to create multiple models in the same amount of time it was previously taking them to create just one. ABB was able to dramatically reduce their model development and testing time, get up to speed quickly and improve their existing toolchain.

Services and Solutions

Expand your modeling capabilities into specialist fields with the MapleSim add-on libraries

Maplesoft Engineering Solutions can provide you with expertise and technology to meet your project requirements quickly. Professional services include product design validation and optimization; code development for in-the-loop simulations; analysis & design calculation tools; and customized training.

Turnkey solutions from Maplesoft Engineering Solutions offer a low-effort way to test out virtual commissioning for your own projects by fast-tracking delivery of an initial model – no previous modeling expertise is required.