This article was originally published by Automation World.
Utilizing simulation environments for control systems in manufacturing facilities can reduce risk and prevent plant downtime. Setting up a simulation environment means using PLCs, HMIs, and other devices to emulate real-life production and equipment situations to train and troubleshoot without risk. Recently, more clients are asking us to set up simulation environments at their facilities for training operations, but how much value it provides depends on your specific production environment. You will need a computer, PLC hardware or RS 5000 Logix Emulate software, and all the necessary licensing. Whatever controls system components you have in your production environment should also be in your simulation.
Simulation environments can test upgrades and new products before they are installed on the production floor. These test environments are equally useful for training operators on using the system and troubleshooting specific scenarios like a low-level signal on a bin or an alarm on a conveyor. When operators understand how to fix problems as a result of using simulation environments, we see less downtime at those plants and get fewer service calls.
Tips for Best Outcomes
To get the most value out of your investment in a control systems simulation environment, consider these suggestions:
- Combine upgrades for a lower overall quote.
- Address risk as it happens.
- Perform full testing on all equipment.
- Make sure the right people are involved.
- Choose a vendor with combined services.
Whether you’re debugging before installing an update or training multiple shifts of operators on how best to run your specific control system, a simulation environment is a low-risk, high-benefit option. Choosing the right vendor to set up your simulation is essential, and the avoided downtime will be proof that the extra training is working for your plant.
Heather Johnson, Automation Manager