23 Jul 2024


3D PLC simulator `cuts development times`

3D PLC simulator `cuts development times`

Siemens has joined forces with an Israeli firm, Tecnomatix Technologies, to develop a software package that allows engineers to develop and test manufacturing processes in a virtual three-dimensional cell before implementing them in a factory. The package, called eM-PLC, automatically generates PLC code that can be verified on the design engineer`s PC before being downloaded to a controller on the shopfloor.

The developers claim that the package will streamline the engineering design process, boosting its speed, consistency and reliability. By moving testing and commissioning from the shop floor onto the control engineer`s desktop PC, it will cut product lead times as well as making it easier to train personnel and porduce documentation. It will also allow mechanical design and control engineers to work simultaneously on a project and to share information.

The package has been tested in several pilot projects, including one involving BMW. Alfons Kiermeier, the company`s programme manger for PLC code generation, describes the ability to generate code and to simulate cell activities as “interesting”. The pilot project demonstrated the feasibility of using the software to cut planning and commissioning times and, according to Kiermeier, BMW plans to remain involved in developing eM-PLC “until it fully supports BMW`s requirement and workflow”.

Tecnomatix was a pioneer in off-line programming of robots, which is now standard practice. “We are proud to lead the way again with off-line programming of PLCs – a major step towards the goal of cutting ramp-up times,” says the company`s chief executive, Harel Beit-On.