ABB reduces project costs through virtual commissioning for drives by 25 percent

2017-11-15 - Software solutions as part of ABB Ability offering allow system integrators and machine builders to reduce costs by 25 percent while enhancing engineering productivity

  • Virtual drives allow integrators to conduct offline testing, anytime, everywhere
  • Simulation reduces risk and saves engineering time

ABB unveils its Virtual Commissioning software solutions that save time, reduce risk and increase engineering productivity in the development and operation of industrial automation systems at SPS IPC Drives.

The virtual engineering and commissioning technology helps machine builders and system integrators develop and simulate industrial processing lines and machines that include automation system and field devices. Using the Virtual Commissioning platform, a system integrator can set up virtual drives and PLCs to enable offline simulation, eliminating the need for testing on real-life production lines.

Because the virtual drive represents the same configuration as real drives and PLCs, the software saves time and effort and reduces risk during the engineering and commissioning of automated systems. Integrators can verify aspects of their systems such as control logic and responses to errors such as faulty sensors, recovery scenarios and timing behavior. Virtual testing and simulation early in an implementation project can enable cost savings of 25% as it reduces the engineering time and risk during hardware commissioning. Additionally, it creates a safe space to deliver training for machine operators or to test solutions to improve productivity.

Use of the solutions on a €600,000 project could save up to €120,000, including a 20% cut in engineering time, a 25% cut in capital outlay, and 50% cuts in training costs and quality costs. Investment to virtual design techniques and tools is easily paid back.

Jarkko Lalu, Design Manager, ABB Drives, said: “ABB’s virtual commissioning can provide benefits at every stage of the automation lifecycle. Integrators can test design concepts, save engineering and commissioning time and de-risk projects, whereas machine operators can improve training and test configuration changes offline.”

ABB’s virtual commissioning solutions are supported by software solutions with three layers. The first is virtual drive tuning through Drive Composer Pro, a start-up and maintenance tool for ABB drives. The tool enables users to start and connect virtual drives, set parameters and conduct offline programming with virtual motor and input signals. Users can also initiate implementing and testing of the adaptive and IEC-61131 programs to the drive without real hardware. The software solutions are compatible with ABB’s all-compatible portfolio of variable speed drives including the ACS380, ACS580 and ACS880 drives series for general purpose and industrial applications as well as machine building, which are commonly used to control motion in industrial production, spanning a performance range from 0.33 kilowatts (kW) to 5,600 kW.

The second level of the virtualization is to compose the automation of the machine or process with virtual devices and controllers in the Automation Builder engineering tool suite. The user can then implement and test control programs of the virtual PLC and HMI with on-line connection to virtual field devices: drives, motion controllers, robots, actuators and sensors.

The third layer completes the virtualization with a mechanical model of the machine or production line. Using ABB’s versatile RobotStudio tool, the user can utilize existing 3D designs, enhancing them with kinematical and physical models. The machine or production line can be then simulated with virtual PLCs and drives. This is a fast and easy way to create a simulation model of the machine with relevant functionality to design and test automation and drive controls. The environment includes a Virtual Reality interface which enables effective operator training or helps in the sales process.

“It’s very beneficial to use ABB’s virtual commissioning software, for example, in training of machine users,” says Tuomas Halttunen, Vice President at Finnish sawing lines manufacturer Veisto Oy.

“After the users are trained on the virtual machine, they are more confident in taking a real production line into use. You can also see all the machine’s internal components that are not visible on-site. This deepens the understanding of the equipment. Another important aspect is that before we start building a saw line, thanks to virtual drives, we can design the optimal machine’s movements and demonstrate it to our customers. I believe that in the future, virtual drives and PLCs will accelerate production line development and testing at the design stage,” Halttunen added.

ABB (ABBN: SIX Swiss Ex) is a pioneering technology leader in electrification products, robotics and motion, industrial automation and power grids, serving customers in utilities, industry and transport & infrastructure globally. Continuing more than a 125-year history of innovation, ABB today is writing the future of industrial digitalization and driving the Energy and Fourth Industrial Revolutions. ABB operates in more than 100 countries with about 136,000 employees.

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