Siemens has developed a new industrial simulation platform called Simit that extensively tests and validates automation configurations, effectively train operators, and smoothly interfaces to high-fidelity process simulators. Seimens claims that its new virtual platform enables a leap forward in engineering efficiency and operator excellence.
Simulation maps real-world installations into a virtual plant environment. A virtual plant supports engineers throughout the entire plant lifecycle. Simulation enables high-quality engineering through extensive configuration testing, which results in reduced time to production, risk, and cost during commissioning and plant start-up.
Simulation also contributes to the achievement of operational excellence, including workforce excellence and optimized system and asset utilization. For engineering test and operator training purposes, generic plant models are either generated directly in Simit or, in the case of more rigorous process models, through the use of highly specialized process simulators.
Simit increases quality in automation engineering through “virtual commissioning,” meaning early and extensive testing in a virtual plant environment. Simit supports virtual commissioning by simulating signals, field devices (actuators and sensors), bus communications, and processes. Simit takes advantage of existing engineering data and generates the first level of simulation, such as the signal simulation, with only a few mouse clicks.
For more rigorous, high-fidelity process simulation requirements, third-party process simulators can be easily interfaced with Simit. The automation program is executed either hardware-in-the-loop, meaning on real S7 controllers, or software-in-the-loop, meaning on emulated virtual controllers. Simit is optimized for Simatic PCS 7 for continuous and batch processes and Simatic S7 for discrete processes. The test bed also includes the ability to test the response of the automation system to malfunctions and critical situations.
In the early phase of the project, the automation engineering is thoroughly debugged, resulting in increased reliability. The end result is the seamless transfer of a faultless automation configuration to the real-world plant. Actual commissioning efforts and the total project duration as well as time to production are significantly decreased.
The Simit simulation platform is also designed for plant operator training. While the primary requirement of engineering tests is rapid configuration of the virtual test bed, operator training systems require additional features to challenge plant operators with important plant states.
Simit also provides the necessary features to design and customize training schemes, including scenarios and snapshots of various plant states. Well-trained operators and deeper plant knowledge enable excellence in plant operation.
Images courtesy of Siemens AG.