“Virtual commissioning” provides the possibility of testing and verifying the perfect functioning of automation systems and optimising controls and process steps before the “real” commissioning takes place in the foundry. Various successfully accomplished projects at the Gienanth iron foundry in Eisenberg, Germany, have demonstrated that commissioning times can be markedly reduced by simulating the equipment and functions beforehand in a “digital factory”.
The simulation allows processes to be optimised long before the real equipment is commissioned
In modernisation or rebuilding projects, every single day counts. Once a plant has been taken out of operation for a rebuilding measure, everything possible is done to bring it back on stream as fast and smoothly as possible. One is frequently presented with the situation that the time left for commissioning the electrical equipment is only very short due to unforeseeable delays occurring during the installation of the mechanical equipment. Against this backdrop, the success of a revamping project largely depends on how quickly and reliably the hardware and control software can be tested and optimised.
The “digital factory”
In numerous projects, Küttner Automation – the company within the Küttner group specialising in automation systems has made it possible to reduce commissioning times and accelerate ramp-ups by applying the approach of “virtual commissioning”.
The process is based on the creation of a testing environment in which all mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic and electrical components of the control systems are connected into a “digital factory”. This simulation scenario allows processes to be optimised and faults in the functional sequence to be identified and corrected beforehand, i.e. prior to the installation on site. The result: all automation sequences have been tested and approved before the new plant goes live.
When production is restarted, many processes and sequences have already been tested
The control equipment is commissioned in a virtual environment at a very early stage of the project in parallel with the manufacture and assembly of the machinery. This means no testing and fine-tuning of the control software under time pressure as is very often the case when these activities take place during the “real” commissioning. Therefore the commissioning activities on site can concentrate on the signal and field level. Moreover, the virtual approach often results in a shorter ramp-up phase, as there will be fewer failures and plant standstills.
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