B & R has integrated the modeling and simulation tool MapleSim into its development environment Automation Studio. Machine and plant engineers can thus easily generate a digital twin and simulate machine behavior in real time. Chad Schmitke (Maplesoft) and Kurt Zehetleitner (B & R) explain how the B & R MapleSim Connector software significantly simplifies the model-based development of machines.
What role do simulations and digital twins play in the development of new machinery and equipment?
Chad Schmitke, Maplesoft:
The simulation with a digital twin makes machine development much more efficient. Modern machines are no longer mechanically controlled as before. This is done by an intelligent control software, which of course significantly increases the machine performance. This results in the fact that machines are becoming increasingly complex and efficient. They therefore also require more sophisticated testing and development methods.
And that's where the digital twin comes into play?
Exactly. So far, producing a prototype has brought with it a certain amount of risk. However, real-time simulation on the digital twin makes it possible to size the hardware accordingly and thoroughly test the software. This allows the performance of the machine to be optimized more quickly.
The focus is therefore on a more efficient development?
Yes, that is the central task of our product. Furthermore, we see great potential in the expansion of our software package. Mechanical engineers will use their findings from the simulations to integrate additional value-added functionality into their products, such as diagnostics, predictive maintenance, and advanced control.
This is already a look into the future. What are the reactions in the industry right now?
The rapid development of new technologies sometimes spread uncertainty among machine builders. Especially small and medium-sized companies need help with the first steps. Since they want to record success as early as possible, a workable solution is needed. With B & R MapleSim Connector we give you exactly that.
What makes B & R MapleSim Connector so special?
Kurt Zehetleitner, B & R:
When it came to creating the software for their machines, our customers were used to programming directly. However, modeling the system as a first step is new. B & R MapleSim Connector is a software package characterized by a smooth workflow between the tools. This makes it easier for our customers and also delivers fast results.
Maplesoft previously had an academic approach. We concentrated on mapping machine physics into equations. Working with B & R, our calculation and modeling tools are used in hardware-in-the-loop and software-in-the-loop simulations. Our expertise in modeling and B & R's know-how about hardware and how it works with customers comes together in MapleSim Connector.
What are the components of the B & R MapleSim Connector?
B & R MapleSim Connector includes the MapleSim software and additional tools for importing CAD data and exporting program codes to Automation Studio. In addition, it also has an export function for our sizing tool SERVOsoft. All tools are well networked. MapleSim Connector can be downloaded directly from the B & R website. In addition, the software will also be included in the installation DVDs for Automation Studio in the future. So our product is easily accessible. In addition, it easily connects the different technical disciplines.
... and provides a safe test environment.
Exactly. In the past, it was primarily about creating a model and possibly dimensioning the engine. But then it was already over. For example, with B & R Maplesim Connector you can test the controller in real-time without risk. All data collected will contribute to the further development of the actual machine until it achieves the desired performance and can be put into operation. Machine development in this form did not exist so far.
Please describe the workflow in B & R MapleSim Connector.
First, the developer imports the CAD data. From this, MapleSim Connector automatically creates a model. The developer does not have to deal with kinematic equations. If no CAD data is available, the model can be generated with components available in MapleSim. The model is then tested and adjusted in the 3D view in B & R Scene Viewer. There are just a few clicks left to create a C code and import it into Automation Studio. There, the code is used either in the simulation or directly on the hardware. When development is complete, the software is transferred to the machine control and can be used immediately without modification.
What benefits do machine builders benefit from B & R MapleSim Connector?
The high complexity and variability of the machines no longer allow any gut feeling in terms of machine performance. Developers need to know in advance how components will behave. The dimensioning of the machine components based on simulations and the virtual commissioning offer a decisive advantage here. With our transport system ACOPOStrak, this is done using a digital twin. For example, this can easily be used to determine the number of shuttles with the highest productivity.
Besides dimensioning and virtual commissioning, predictive maintenance, advanced control algorithms and optimization are key benefits. In addition, what-if scenarios can be played through. For example, how can I achieve the fastest cycle with a motion profile while remaining within the torque limits of the motors? Apart from that, the simulation can also be used in the sales process. So there are no limits to the potential use of our software.
Speaking of potential: what will the collaboration between B & R and Maplesoft bring in the future?
We want to inspire customers for the theme Digital Twin. We offer an excellent product and our expertise that our customers can rely on. Apart from that, it is very important to us to optimize our product through customer feedback. The basis of our cooperation will continue to be the question of how we can make it easier for our customers to transform their machine data into added value.