The engineering process for production systems is time-consuming and complex. The automotive industry would like to significantly reduce the time required for this by commissioning facilities virtually. A consistent engineering toolchain with standardized description formats and interfaces is a prerequisite.
These simplify planning, design, programming and actual commissioning, thus saving time and costs. Festo is conducting research in this area together with Daimler and other partners in the ENTOC research project.
Where virtual commissioning is concerned, it’s important to depict reality in sufficiently accurate detail. Models of the components are also required to this end, which are integrated in the facility’s overall structure. In this way, accidental collisions can be prevented, process sequences optimized with regard to cycle time and control sequences programmed in advance.
Scenarios can also be run through by way of example in order to simulate errors in the motion sequence or the programming, and their consequences. This reduces commissioning costs and effort, and improves safety standards during operation.
In order to be able to provide the required models of individual components for virtual commissioning, the Festo research project is concerning itself with the standardized description of the components in AutomationML.
Standardization helps to ensure that the toolchain – the consecutive steps in product development for which various software tools are required – is consistent. This makes the engineering process, as well as resultant virtual commissioning, simpler and more uniform and means that components from different manufacturers can also easily exchange data.
When planning a facility, for example, design engineers can then integrate the digital images of the components into their design software. On the basis of a detailed description of a corresponding system, Festo’s experts with their specific technical knowledge are able to check whether suitable components are selected and can point out corresponding potential for optimization if necessary.
In addition, the required accessories can be proposed and ultimately the whole behavior model can be provided with all the information and data necessary for the virtual commissioning.
A marriage station in the Daimler production department serves as a demonstrator, where the car body is joined to the undercarriage. Festo provides behavior models of its components for virtual commissioning of this production station, so that they can be loaded to the engineering software and the virtual commissioning tool with components from other manufacturers.
The functioning virtual model of the facility can be used to create, test and optimize program sequences, as well as test and service scenarios. This accelerates actual commissioning and the facility is available for production earlier.
In addition to Festo AG, the following partners are also involved:
From the scientific community:
The ENTOC project is being funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) under funding code 01IS16023E.
ENTOC was awarded the ITEA 3 label within the context of EUREKA, a European research initiative. ITEA is a cluster program which supports R&D projects in the field of software-intensive systems and services. German EUREKA projects, and thus ITEA as well, are accompanied by DLR in Bonn. In addition to the German consortium, there’s a Swedish consortium based around Volvo as well, which is also conducting research on the consistent toolchain for virtual commissioning.