Promat 2007: Controls testing, emulation software for automated material handling systems

By Control Engineering Staff January 11, 2007

Whether you’re an industrial engineer who needs working conveyor layouts to develop flow ideas within your project team, or a system integrator who needs to produce realistic conveyor system models quickly, Demo3D Controls Testing software can create an animated model. The software is designed to reduce automated material handling system (AMHS) commissioning costs by allowing PLC programmers to test the logical operation of their systems before the AMHS is built. Demo3D, from Reading, England-based Emulate3D Ltd., is scheduled to make its debut at Promat in Chicago on Jan. 9, 2007.

Demo3D Controls Testing represents the “second generation of dynamic AMHS emulation software in that it accurately models the physical interactions between equipment and loads carried by the equipment, resulting in a truly realistic representation of the actual system,” according to the company. Modeled equipment is then connected to the actual control system for testing. This takes the logical testing off the project’s critical path, and facilitates extensive and largely automated testing that would be uneconomic and impractical on site. Operators can become familiar with new control systems in a safe environment, and HMIs can be developed, tested, and modified before disrupting production.

Models are assembled from catalog elements, using standard supplied components. Equipment can be parameterised and initialized by the control system or in Demo3D, and specialized equipment can be added to the catalogs by the user or by third-party modelers, and then connected to PLCs via OPC to test the logical operation of photo eyes, motors, bar code readers, and other control program elements before the system is built on site.

Some existing simulation products allow the accurate modeling of material handling systems, but they may sometimes “reduce reality” to run fast, according to the company. This means they can require extra work to make them “emulation-ready.”
Emulate3D technology is said to “embrace accurate physics calculations to produce highly realistic dynamic behavior” to provide a real-time 3-D front-end for a range of control systems, as well as custom solutions for equipment manufacturers.

Example animated models are available online. The Palletizer 2 video demo , for example, shows how loads are centered before they are rotated and then positioned to build up a pallet pattern, layer by layer. Different speed sections of roller conveyor are used to apply a controlled torque to the loads to orient them, and roller diverter sections are then used to position the loads across the width of the conveyor.

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—Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Compiled by Renee Robbins , editorial director