The packaging industry requires smooth procedures, fast implementation and immediate results. This applies both to the suppliers of packaging machines and to the users of such plants. In order to overcome these challenges, many companies have decided to integrate simulation software such as industrialPhysics from machineering into both the development process and the running operation. Not only that, however: the machineering digital twin now also belongs to the infrastructure in many companies. It saves time and money and optimises the quality of the individual plants.

Simulation saves time and money

The simulation software is at the centre of every development process and functions as a cross-departmental platform on which the current state of development can be verified at any time and the feasibility checked with other departments. The mechanical, electrical and software departments access the same model at the same time and each of them process it in their own development environment before jointly developing it further and testing it immediately in interaction by means of the simulation. The current state of the mechatronic development is thus subjected to interdisciplinary testing even in the earliest phases of the process. Through this continuous virtual commissioning the expenditure can ultimately be reduced – in terms of both time and cost – in comparison with the usual final commissioning, because the constant comparison of the work status allows the feasibility and achievability of the goals to be checked at any time. Consistent development can thus always be achieved with the continuous commissioning. Everything must be measured against the functionality at each point in time. The simulation thereby adopts a completely new role in the plant development. Away from testing along a cul-de-sac to get to the result and towards a medium that merges the different components of a machine in an articulable digital prototype.

The digital twin – the virtual image of a specific plant – is available with the real commissioning and will accompany its physical counterpart for the length of its life: a simulation model is thereby assigned to an individual product and supplied with its real data. The model thus reflects the current state of the plant at all times, besides which it supplies valuable information. This model, which is based on real-time data, makes it simple to monitor any plant – irrespective of its location or size. Errors or irregularities in the sequence can thus be rectified immediately and the smooth flow of material or the manufacturing sequence can be ensured.

However, not only the monitoring of a real plant is facilitated by the digital twin. Above all, the digital twin is a genuine bonus when it comes to support and maintenance, because there is a possibility to tailor maintenance measures to the actual condition of the machine and to replace preventive maintenance by condition-oriented, predictive maintenance. Moreover, it is possible to determine operating parameters that are better suited to the usage scenario in order to operate the plant to the optimum and to feed these findings back to the product development.

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