Basic Learning Module #2

Let’s take a loot at Digital Twins in Virtual Commissioning !

Industry 4.0 and all the technologies related to it start to be more and more present in our world. The digital twin is part of those technologies and can be used in many cases. This module is about digital twins and how they can improve the development and commissioning of a machine. For this you need to understand how goes the traditional process of machine design. We will first introduce this concept with the different phases (concept, engineering, commissioning). We will describe the commissioning, understand its limits and all the problems coming with it.

Commissioning of a conveyor where equipment is being tested to its maximum rating and capacity of operation.

Commissioning is a complex integration of different technologies. This part of the project is the final assembling. All the pieces are being put together. The mechanical parts are assembled. Electrical components are wired. The controller code is loaded and the machine starts to become alive. All the functional verification are done at this step. But this step is often source of mistakes, errors, bugs due to the integration of the different parts together. We will learn that all those situation have a cost, and this cost can be very expensive at this step.

We will see how we can improve this by the usage of digital twins. After a short introduction on digital twins we will review the machine design process with the aid of those twins. This technology will help to discover most of the problems in advance and with this, to fix them while it is still easy.

A lot of simulations can be done with the help of virtual commissioning, even before the assembling of the machine starts. The virtual commissioning happens in the digital world on the digital twin and most of the functions can be tested on this digital twin. Those simulation helps to try different designs, layouts and to correct most of the software issues in advance. And this will help to realize a better commissioning and have a better machine at the end.

We will also see there is a lot of usage for digital twins after the machine is running in production. It can be used for training, to help operators getting used to the machine on the digital twin. It can be useful to the maintenance for troubleshooting on the digital twin when the real machine is not available. The digital twin can also be used for testing modifications in the digital world before to implement them on the real machine. Then if the modification is relevant, it can be applied. If the tests results are not good, no change have been done on the real machine yet.

The digital twin is a new technology and it may seem difficult and costly to integrate this new technology in the process but this investment in time and money will be rewarded later with a better engineered product and a more efficient and shorter commissioning. The digital twins bring an added value to the machine design process as we will see in this module.

Vincent Troffaes | Research Engineer at CeCoTePe


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