Can simulation help me with plant control?
In our video talk “Why simulate” (in German language), Dirk Wortmann answered as follows:
“Of course, the simulation only ever does what we tell the model to do. That means we try to reproduce the real control system in the simulation as closely as possible to reality.
This applies to the PLC level, it can apply to the material flow computer level, it can apply to the warehouse management computer level, but it can also apply to the host level.
This means that the orders that are fed into the simulation – from the host level through the various system levels down to the mechanics – can be mapped almost 1:1 in the simulation model.
So this control system is basically a blueprint for what has to be implemented later.
But it can’t be transferred 1:1, so I’ll never be able to directly transfer the PLC code from the simulation model to the real control system, because of course the simulation still abstracts at certain points. And certain things are already standardised in the simulation system. Things like “motor on – motor off” are things that we no longer have to implement; they run automatically.
Nevertheless, at this point there is of course also the possibility of building the model in such a way that these controls are replaced by the real controls. This means that we switch off the simulation-internal control and connect the external, real control that will later run in the system. And we call this emulation or virtual commissioning.
This means that the simulation model is controlled from the outside and tested to see if it works as imagined.
And at this point we must also refer to research: Artificial intelligence, or “AI” for short, is on everyone’s lips these days, i.e. a process that should in principle enable us, or machines, to act intelligently.
And we can proudly report that we are now active in a number of research projects and we have high hopes for the future that we may find algorithms that can do it much better and optimise it much better than we do today.”