Closely meshed development

The development process in present-day machine and plant construction is largely distinguished by sequential processes. The development starts with the design. Once this is done, the electrical circuit diagram, cables and further connections are added. At the end of it all the automation engineer, who is possibly already overseas at the customer, has to program the controllers and commission the plant. Since all the errors from the preceding development come to the surface in this process, this task is not only nerve-wracking with many change loops, but also drives up the costs. The customer is annoyed and the supplier has to wait for his money. This scenario can be avoided if all areas cooperate closely right from the early phases of the development. But how can that be done?

With its Continuous Commissioning approach, machineering has found a way in which the simulation acts as a connecting link for all areas. Mechanical and electrical systems as well as software work in the native environment. The development and all small changes are verified right from the start by the simulation in a sort of micro-V model, i.e. continuous virtual commissioning in micro sequences (see V model). The respective current states of development are subsequently saved, for example in PDM.

Decisive for the success of the development is the division of the complex mechatronic machine or product into smaller mechatronic units that need to be developed, because the functional principle of the mechanical system is strongly unit-oriented, whereas the automation develops in a function-oriented manner. Through the division into smaller units a common and close-meshed development can take place despite these differences.

The EPlan and Cideon companies are taking a similar approach with the Syngineer (or House of Mechatronics): the synchronisation of the engineering discipline. This involves building a mechatronic product structure from the requirements and function of a machine or a product. Through the linking of the authoring systems a transparency is created that makes information available to all participants and makes changes easily visible. Moreover, the Syngineer can be used as a communication platform that enables real time coordination. The result: This technology not only enables a common understanding to be achieved, but also a constant comparison of the development steps. Losses of information and time-consuming regular meetings are consigned to the past.

New job profile necessary

Despite the approaches to synchronous engineering, tomorrow's mechatronic development necessitates a new job profile – that of the mechatronic engineer. The different divisions are no longer required when engineers exhibit skills in all areas and autonomously develop mechatronic units and verify feasibilities prior to the virtual mechatronic assembly. However, this can only work if the simulation is a fixed part of the development process.

Would you like to learn more or do you have questions about the subject of continuous commissioning? Contact us, we'll be glad to advise you!

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