Testing PLCs against virtual models

RSTestStand Enterprise from Rockwell Software is a design tool for describing, testing, and implementing manufacturing control systems. RSTestStand, previously called Control Planner/Simulator (CP/S), consists of general-purpose modeling, visualization, and testing tools for process and discrete applications.

01/01/2004



RSTestStand Enterprise from Rockwell Software is a design tool for describing, testing, and implementing manufacturing control systems. RSTestStand, previously called Control Planner/Simulator (CP/S), consists of general-purpose modeling, visualization, and testing tools for process and discrete applications. It allows control designers and engineers to apply pre-configured model elements to functions, such as robots, welding systems and conveyors, and then integrate them into a 3-D virtual test environment.

For instance, when Ford Motor Co. recently implemented a simulation program, Virtual PLC (VPLC), for testing new factory and automation system designs before actual installation and commissioning, it selected RSTestStand Enterprise to test its real programmable logic control against virtual models of various production lines operated by Ford's body shop suppliers. The object of the VPLC initiative is "continuous improvement of delivery time and cost reductions for the design, build, and launch of new tooling and automation," says Al Ver, Ford's advanced and manufacturing engineering VP.

Ford's VPLC program reduces floor debug time by allowing suppliers to model, visualize, and test manufacturing control logic in a virtual world prior to building tools. Kuka Flexible Production Systems was one of Ford's first suppliers to try the VPLC system. Tony Leeper, Kuka's control engineering manager, says results from pilot project have been positive. "We're now implementing an internal controls process to expand Ford's VPLC process." The goal is to achieve faster response time in getting cost-competitive tooling systems to market. www.rockwellsoftware.com/cps/

  • Lays out and verifies logical interaction of PLCs with each other and environment

  • Identifies problems with control system design

  • Proposes remedies to problems

  • Tests its results

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