Virtual Commissioning Techniques - Maplesoft Engineering Solutions

Virtual Commissioning Techniques

The automation software, with all of the required information now centralized within it, is able to perform a variety of virtual commissioning (VC) tasks that would otherwise have waited until the physical commissioning process. Because both the plant model and PLC code are in a virtual environment, simulations can be performed on a large scale, allowing for iterations that test the performance of the PLC code in various scenarios. Engineers will look for bugs in control code that may cause slowdowns, performance issues, safety concerns, or other results that would compromise the functioning of the physical system. When performance issues are discovered, they can be diagnosed with a transparency that is difficult to obtain during a physical commissioning process. By either inspecting the PLC code, or the plant model itself, the source of the issue can be debugged using the range of model information available. In a physical commissioning process, the engineer may have difficulty isolating the performance issue, as the full range of parameter and variables in the plant model are not nearly as accessible for diagnostics.

 These techniques can serve as resource-efficient techniques to isolate issues much earlier in the design process 

Another technique employed in this stage is to replace the virtual PLC code with the PLC hardware itself, and connect it to the input and output signals of the digital twin. Due to the requirements for real-time simulation, this task was previously inaccessible for many situations that required a high fidelity model for useful results. With optimized FMUs available from modern tools like MapleSim, engineers can test the physical controller hardware against the virtual model, providing another technique to debug issues before proceeding to construct the physical system.

While neither of these techniques will completely eliminate the risk involved in the physical commissioning process, they can serve as resource-efficient techniques to isolate issues much earlier in the design process. Virtual commissioning is also differentiated from physical commissioning in that it can be run as a concurrent process alongside many other tasks in a design project. Because testing can begin while both the plant and controller are in a virtual state, the relative cost of design iterations is minimal, allowing engineers to perform VC at an initial, high-level view, and to continue returning to VC as the design is refined and testing needs are further specified.

Next: Virtual Commissioning Benefits

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