Hochschule Furtwangen

Development of a control program from a digital twin of the fischertechnik high-bay warehouse 

Project description

As part of a project at Furtwangen University, Tuttlingen site, a digital twin was created from the 3D CAD model of the fischertechnik high-bay warehouse. With this digital twin, the project group demonstrated how an SiL (Software in the Loop) simulation can be used to develop a control program without physically existing hardware and how a virtual commissioning of the complete plant is possible.

The 3D CAD data of the fischertechnik high-bay warehouse were processed with the NX12 software from Siemens Digital Industries Software (previously Siemens PLM). With the integrated "Mechatronics Concept Designer" (MCD), the CAD model could be extended by physical and kinematic properties. All sensors and actuators required for simulation were also realized and tested with the MCD. The TIA-Portal V15.1 from Siemens was used as an integrated development system. The team realized the control program in the programming language "Structured Control Language" (SCL). PLCSIM Advanced as virtual PLC formed the interface between MCD and TIA-Portal. 

Components used for SiL simulation
Parallel to the digital twin, the project participants assembled the real fischertechnik high-bay warehouse. They then used the purely virtual control program for both the digital twin and the real plant. The only difference in the design was that the digital twin uses half of the encoder pulses. 

The commissioning of the real plant went without any problems. When comparing with the digital twin, it was noticeable that there were minimal differences between the processes. One of the reasons for this was that the virtual motors in the MCD could not be defined completely realistically. If the signal for a motor was reset, the motor (or the hinge joint used to simulate the motor) stopped immediately in the MCD. In reality, the motor and thus all downstream components still move minimally. However, the deviation was so small that it did not stand in the way of successful commissioning of the real station.

University Profile

The Tuttlingen University campus, which has been the location of Furtwangen University since 2009, is home to the Faculty of Industrial Technologies. The university works closely with industry and the state in its sponsorship, organization and teaching. The Campus Sponsors' Association is also very important, with more than 100 companies from the region as members.

Company profile

Siemens Digital Industries Software (formerly Siemens PLM Software) is a software vendor based in Plano, Texas. The company specializes in software for 3D representations and CAD processing. The company emerged from the UGS Corporation, which was acquired by Siemens in 2007.