Virtual commissioning represents a part or starting point of a future product lifecycle management supported entirely by digital twin methodology.
“The digital twin is disrupting the entire Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), from manufacturing to service and operations. Nowadays, PLM is very time consuming in terms of efficiency, manufacturing, intelligence, service phases and sustainability in product design. A digital twin can merge the product physical and virtual space. The digital twin enables companies to have a digital footprint of all of their products, from design to development and throughout the entire product life cycle.” (quote from wikipedia)
Advantages at a glance
Benefits of Virtual Commissioning in detail
Virtual prototyping - the first steps to the digital twin
The virtual prototype represents the core of the virtual commissioning process. Build and refinement of this prototype shall be a major part of the design work. Even though every engineering discipline is setting up “its” model, it requires interdisciplinary work to define and setup the interfaces between the different submodels. Design issues due to the lack of communication are therefore minimized. This process also forces to specify and document all components at an adequate level, improving design documentation quality. Impacts of design changes get visible for the entire design team.
The following workflow is an example of virtual commissioning. The steps shown are executed in parallel, typically in several loops, starting with the "rough" modelling and ending with a refined virtual representation of the machine with sufficient accuracy.
Creation of a mechanical model of the relevant machine subsystem
On the basis of
- 3D CAD data
- Material data
- Data of the components
a kinematic model of the machine and / or subsystem is created.
The interfaces to the "neighbouring" domains, e.g. to hydraulics, are taken into account accordingly during the model design.
After the successful model test, the mechanical model is exported as an FMU and is available for coupling with FMUs from other domains.
Setup of a hydraulic model
A similar approach to the modelling of the mechanics is used for the hydraulics. Information for modelling the hydraulics can be obtained from
- Circuit diagrams
- Parts lists
- Component data from suppliers
(e.g. description of the dynmaic valve behaviour).
The hydraulic model is also exported as an FMU after completion.
Connecting the individual FMUs to form the digital twin
Once the individual, domain-specific models have been created and exported as FMUs, they can now be combined to form the digital twin of the machine or the relevant machine subsystem.
In doing so, the sub-models only need to be connected at the previously defined interfaces.
The result is the so-called composite FMU.
Real-time simulation of the digital twin
A real-time calculation job is created in the VEL Orchestrator that contains the composite FMU (digital twin). This calculation job is executed on the VEL Real-time Simulator.
In addition to the calculation job, a 3D visualisation and live scopes can also be created.
Programming of the application software
Parallel to the modelling of the digital twin, the application software can be programmed.
During virtual commissioning, the software can be tested against the digital twin.
Visualisation of the machine / subsystem behaviour
With the help of virtual commissioning, the developed machine functions can be checked. It is helpful to visualise the relevant variables.
The VEL offers the possibility of visualising process data in 2D, but also displays the movement behaviour of complete machines in 3D.
This example workflow for virtual commissioning shows that a large part of the work of the classic development process now becomes part of model-based working: Software development, testing and improvement up to the presetting of most parameters is done during virtual prototyping.