New line projects and upgrades are like walking on a high wire. Projects can get delayed, downtime can increase and productivity often drops during a change. Getting sidetracked is easy and meeting every goal is a nearly impossible balancing act. To help manufacturers and personnel keep their balance throughout a big line project, we developed PolySim. PolySim is a technology that emulates your line, so you can take the guesswork out of line modification decisions. The use of an emulation model gives manufacturers the ability to reduce project duration and costs and serves as an effective tool for training staff to run and maintain the working system before launch.
Even though the PLC appears to be running the line, with PolySim, it’s just a perfect “emulation” of the line—a digital clone that looks and responds like the actual production line. The PLC reads the input from PolySim’s dynamic HMI model and directs the outputs in the model according to the logic. The emulation gives operators and maintenance time to verify logic and learn how to operate the line. Beyond training and verification, manufacturers can test hypothetical inputs such as a 10-year production forecast on your finished goods handling system today, or testing a new package size or format with no wasted time or product.
A Case for Industrial Emulation for Training
Consider a beverage manufacturer—using emulation on the HMI, the trainer can communicate the critical importance of bottle population, for example, by showing the impact of too few or too many bottles on overall line operation and system throughput or changes to the process system. The training provides typical system variables, i.e., conveyor speeds, package sizes, conveyor geometry, photoeye feedback, valve and motor specifics, tank levels, meter pulses, etc.
Challenge: Nine new operations from a variety of vendors would be added to two existing ones to create the new line. A leading beverage maker introduced a new package design involving a PET bottle that required filling in a Class 100 Extended Shelf Life (ESL) environment.
Objective: The goal was to cut costly risks and surprises at the actual installation and allow the customer to hit the ground running once construction was complete.
Results: By using PolySimSM, the team successfully ran water through the revamped line on day one. Time to market was reduced for the new product and they saved countless hours of work by service techs and operators. The customer noted that using emulation helped operators visualize the line operation and pose valuable what-if scenarios in advance. Emulation even permitted staff to get ahead on writing SOPs for the new configuration. Running a real-time computer model of the system is actually more effective than running the system itself in the field. Because emulation can address variables and yield more useful data in a shorter period, your engineering team can run and test various “what if” scenarios without impacting production.
To see other cases, checkout our whitepaper: Emulation Lower Your Project Risk with a Digital Twin
Training through emulation
Examining hypothetical scenarios virtually means no waste, no impact on production and real learning benefits. PolySim eliminates the “fear factor” for employees as they learn to change PLC code or troubleshoot the system. Staff can experiment with control systems at various speeds and production levels without moving physical product through the actual production line. An operator in training may wonder what would happen if he or she placed a valve in the “manual” mode and opened it while the batch is running in “automatic.” PolySim training answers hypothetical questions and demonstrates the results in a safe, foolproof environment.
The virtual environment encourages experimentation, reduces the fear of making mistakes and delivers meaningful lessons that stay with the trainee long after typical classroom instruction is forgotten. Call today to find out how you can harness the power of emulation for your next project.