Technologies for Virtual Commissioning - Maplesoft Engineering Solutions

Technologies for Virtual Commissioning

For virtual commissioning to be practical in the automation industry, the creation of virtual models needs to be sufficient for their usage outside of niche experts. The development of advanced, model-driven design has taken form in what the automation industry now refers to as a Digital Twin. In addition, the software standards for model connectivity have also seen drastic improvements. Together, these technologies are permitting the widespread practicality of virtual commissioning throughout the automation industry.

Model-Driven Digital Twins

A Digital Twin is a dynamic, virtual representation of a corresponding physical product. These models can range widely in their purpose and fidelity, but they serve as a powerful connection to the product for diagnostics, design changes, and the virtual commissioning process. Companies are increasingly using Digital Twins to optimize their products in ways that were previously either unrealistic or impossible.

With system-level modeling tools like MapleSim, the creation of a model-driven Digital Twin can begin alongside the design process. While past attempts at virtual commissioning used model-based techniques, the fidelity and flexibility required for common usage was lacking. Now, modeling tools allow engineers to begin their process by importing their CAD information from other tools. The CAD import technology has become an important development to make Digital Twins more accessible to the automation market. Model-driven Digital Twins are now an important, emerging trend in the automation industry, making virtual commissioning more accessible and adding a variety of other capabilities to the design process.

Functional Mock-Up Interface

Previously, the complex physics of a plant model were simulated with a platform that operated differently than the logic-based systems of PLC design. The models had to connect seamlessly before virtual commissioning could really take off. In 2010, the Functional Mock-up Interface (FMI) was introduced as a standard interface for a variety of model-based processes.

The FMI standard is a collection of information that allows for import and export with a variety of software tools. It is defined as a single, archive-based file containing variable definitions, a full set of system equations in C code or a compiled library, and other parameters relevant to the model. Subsequently, FMI has gained increasing adoption and is supported by over 40 engineering tools. FMI is a key technology for exporting model-based Digital Twins to the PLC control software.

Next: The Virtual Commissioning Workflow

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