Case Study: Virtual PLC testing gives confident commissioning for global automation company

Posted: 26-Mar-2020

Following some complex automation commissioning projects, a major engineering design company, providing end of line automation solutions for the food and beverage industry, was keen to ensure future projects were delivered on time, within budget and to the satisfaction of their customer.

So they brought in AutoLogic Systems and their Emulate3D modelling software from Rockwell Automation. By using Emulate3D they would be able to create an offline test bed for new hardware, PLC codes and any facility upgrades or testing.

End of line palletising project

Specifically, the customer, a global snack food manufacturer, wanted to redesign their end of line palletisation. They were looking at purchasing new hardware that would operate with Rockwell Controllers and the associated PLC codes.

Within Emulate3D, the design company were able to create a digital twin of the proposed hardware, and the Rockwell PLC, and test it thoroughly in a virtual environment before its installation.

They were able to test, debug and validate all code to ensure the hardware would be operational and working optimally as soon as it was up and running. The installation downtime was kept to an absolute minimum as no testing had to be carried out on site and the end customer had full confidence in their purchase because they had already seen the improvements in the virtual environment.

The Rockwell automation suite

The entire commissioning project was simulated and controlled by Rockwell technology with both Emulate3D and the PLCs being part of the Rockwell suite.

Emulate3D is developed today by Rockwell Automation for whom AutoLogic is a value added reseller.

The specific Rockwell controllers in this project were for the automation of the palletising machine and also the carton transport to the palletiser.

How Emulate3D works

Emulate3D allows you to create a digital twin of your system or operation and test it┬áin the office. As well as creating detailed 3D simulation models, you can develop, test, and produce robust PLC and mid-level control systems offline, before building the real system. Controls emulation saves time and money by testing the control system before going on-site; shorten the project’s critical path with virtual commissioning and reduce overall testing time.

By using a 3D model to provide realistic feedback in place of the real automated system, operator training becomes safer, cheaper, and does not disrupt existing production.