In many branches of industry – and that includes the packaging industry – the use of simulation software during the development process and also in the operation of a real plant is now standard. machineering GmbH & Co.KG is very well acquainted with this industry’s requirements. Many of its customers are among the major players in the packaging sector. Bosch Packaging, Krones or Somic – all of these companies simulate with iPhysics, the simulation software from machineering.
The packaging industry has to meet particular requirements: smooth processes, short lead times, fast implementation of the customer’s wishes and immediate results. And that is precisely where many companies get to the point where they have to change something to remain competitive and also satisfy their customers in the long term.
Fast lead times and cost savings
Simulation software such as iPhysics is integrated into the development process with the first idea for a plant or an individual machine. The simulation software is at the centre of this 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. Ideally, 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.
Through this continuous virtual commissioning the expenditure can ultimately be reduced – in terms of both time and cost – in comparison with the usual real 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. The commissioning times at the end are thus drastically reduced by up to 75 percent. A significant cost saving and a shortening of lead times by up to 15 percent are possible through the use of simulation software. 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.
However, the software not only provides support during the development process – it also assists the users and the support dept. in daily operation. A simulated display of the plant is possible in real time at any time with the aid of the simulation software. If an error or other problems occur, they can be quickly located and rectified without long downtimes occurring. However, simulation facilitates the whole procedure not only in case of problems, but also when it comes to planned optimisations of the running plant. Each change to be made can be run through virtually beforehand. Various possibilities can be tested on the digital twin created by this process and the best of them can be loaded into the real plant. The risk of misjudgements is thus considerably minimised.
The digital twin
machineering has even gone one step further with the „machineering Digital Twin“. Whereas the digital twin had previously been hosted in a cloud, it can now be integrated into its own control cabinet. With the real commissioning of a plant, the digital twin runs with it as a virtual counterpart in the control cabinet – based on real-time data. The machine user can immediately make use of the many different technical advantages that the use of „machineering Digital Twin“ offers, because the digital twin can be integrated immediately into the standard production. It supplies all the necessary data to enable a smooth process at all times. The calculation of complicated geometric models is also easily done.
Several companies from the packaging sector have already been using iPhysics for a long time – for example Bosch Packaging Technology. Prior to the use of simulation, the machine manufacturer could not extensively test its control software offline on the desk by simulation, which meant that the software could only be tested at a late stage in the assembly process on the already existing machine. Delays in the mechanical and electrical construction made the software commissioning even more difficult. Also, the internal communication between software and design engineers in the actual development process didn’t always go smoothly due to the lack of a common medium. Thanks to the use of iPhysics, however, the work can now proceed in parallel, which reduces both costs and the commissioning time. The possibility of software tests has also significantly improved. The result of that is a higher software quality too. „The greatest benefit for us is without doubt the HIL software test on the virtual machine, including the simulation of the product transport. This allows us to carry out early tests on the control software and react directly if need be“, says the person responsible for simulation at Robert Bosch GmbH, Packaging Technology.
At Krones AG the commissioning of machines and plants in series production had taken too long and required too many resources up to now. „In the product development, conversely, the PLC software could only be tested after the prototype or the control cabinet had been manufactured. That took up way too much time. That frequently resulted in delays and deadlines were difficult to meet. Apart from the shortened lead times and improved commissioning process, it has also been possible through the use of iPhysics to establish an interdisciplinary exchange of thoughts and ideas between the different engineering disciplines. Krones even goes one step further: „We have developed our own tool with which we can create our simulation models in the most efficient and effective way possible. We use different data sources and prepare them so that they are suitable for simulation with iPhysics“, says the developer responsible at KRONES AG for the standardisation of the virtual commissioning.
Somic GmbH & Co.KG has been using virtual commissioning since 2012 to simplify, accelerate and secure the real commissioning at the customer. „With the help of simulation, we wanted to significantly reduce the commissioning time by testing the program without the hardware, to enable the optimisation of program and machine at the same time and to achieve an increase in the quality of the project process. We managed to do all of that with the help of machineering“, says Eder, head of electrical design at Somic GmbH & Co. KG