Simulation on the virtual machine model: error detection at an early stage

BMS virtual commissioning enables a variety of simulations before the completion of design steps. This saves costs, time and nerves.

The commissioning of machines demands the perfect coordination of all key players, tasks and components. Otherwise there is a risk of cost-intensive delays and interruptions of operations. For this reason we have developed a tool that enables virtual commissioning.

It permits the simulation of different scenarios, such as normal operation or challenging situations that may occur in reality. By coupling the PLC with the virtual model it is possible to test processes in exact detail and detect errors as well as malfunctions at an early stage.

Read on for more detailed information on how virtual commissioning with BMS works. We demonstrate how downtimes can be reduced, efforts minimised and costs avoided.


Newly developed: Simulation control as basis for software commissioning

BMS Maschinenfabrik GmbH is a full-service provider for sorting systems, repacking systems and dry part components. Using our extensive know-how and expertise gained over many years we help our renowned customers increase the efficiency of their plants and production facilities, a major part of which are individually developed machines that are specifically designed to meet the local and operational requirements.

The problem: Fixed deadlines for delivery and commissioning demand full cooperation between BMS and the customer. This is particularly due to the fact that individual machines are designed and manufactured in the first step, but are not started up with the software until they are installed on site. The focus here is on the programmable logic controllers, or PLC. These enable an integrated, digital function control – provided there are no delays.

The solution: By linking a real PLC with a virtual machine model, mechanical engineering tasks and commissioning can be carried out simultaneously. To this end, BMS Maschinenfabrik has developed a computer-aided simulation tool that allows virtual commissioning to some extent. Fast. Secure. Reliable.


Control of the PLC: Designed and ready for any situation

We know from practical experience how serious the impact of later-detected errors and malfunctions on the operating process can be. We have therefore designed our tool for virtual commissioning in such a way that a situation-based machine control is possible using PLC. This means:

  • • Simulation of normal operation
  • • Testing procedures to identify and respond to errors
  • • Simulation of concrete tasks and challenges that are transferred to the real PLC
  • • Documentation of errors, e.g. of sensor signals from the virtual model to the real PLC
  • • Ensuring the programme execution (real PLC) and control of actuators (e.g. electric drives) in the virtual model

In brief: Using our tool for the virtual commissioning of special machines we are able to directly check whether and, if necessary, how precisely operating sequences of the machine and control interconnect. In this way, we can determine whether, for instance, simulated sensor defects also lead to intuitively understandable error messages that are communicated to the operator.


Virtual commissioning: prior to delivery, parallel to the (mechanical/electrical) design

Besides our commitment to giving you optimal advice on the design of your systems, we also want to ensure a smooth transition. For this reason, we have designed the virtual commissioning in such a way that a comprehensive simulation is possible in the “Design” segment, even before the machine is delivered. This immediately reveals whether, for instance, sensors are missing or other remedial action is required. And all of this is done prior to handing over the design documents to the respective engineering departments.

Your advantage: You can thus avoid subsequently required alterations that are - as we know from experience - far more time-consuming and costly. A classic application example for the so-called rule of ten, according to which errors that are not detected and rectified until during the factory commissioning incur costs that are ten times higher than when corrections are carried out at an early stage. This is precisely where virtual commissioning helps, because no aspect is left unconsidered


The key points in an overview:

  • • reduction of downtimes
  • • early stage simulation detects and records errors
  • • very short phase between dismantling of old plant and resumption of production
  • • independent job performance as not connected to serial production of the machine
  • • free time management, fully decoupled from the completion of the actual plant

To be continued…: BMS is already planning further steps towards integration

We believe it makes sense to gradually expand the virtual commissioning spectrum. One of our priorities is to provide training courses that enable the operator to learn all the important details before commissioning. We are also working on recording machine data on-site at the customer’s premises in real time – just like a 24/7 ECG.

In this way, during a remote service event, all the required data could be displayed in graphic form or used in such a way that they could be be played back on the virtual model. Ideal for identifying the causes of errors. And also independent of the customer’s respective description. With these recordings we gain valuable time.

By the way: there are, of course, also other technical aspects that are relevant, such as the rough running of shaft or motor. A clear indication would be a higher electrical energy input, for example. Within the framework of a predictive maintenance BMS is therefore able to take the necessary steps at an early stage. Through a continuous adjustment and comparison of data that automatically identify a service case.