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07.01.2020 | Pressemitteilungen

Bachmann Powers Controllab Digital Twin

Feldkirch, Austria - January 7, 2020

We have been working closely with closed-loop control specialist Controllab for eight years now. After taking this relationship to the next level in 2014 with a formal technical partnership, we have completed multiple projects together. Controllab CEO Christian Kleijn and CTO Paul Weustink talk about their cooperation with Bachmann – and what benefits this brings to their shared clients.


The Digital Twin at work

The foundation of the working relationship between Bachmann and Controllab is the latter’s 20-sim software. This can best be described as a simulation packet for controlled dynamic systems – including electrical, mechanical or hydraulic systems or combinations of these. The 20-sim software works with Bachmann PLC control systems to create so-called ‘digital twins’ of a client’s system.

“A Bachmann controller on a wind turbine or in the propulsion system of a ship sends back a lot of data,” begins Christian. “We use those data to reconstruct a digital version of the system. This is the digital twin.” The advantages of the digital twin are already seen during the preliminary design phase of a system. By creating a digital model of a system, a client can develop and test it in this simulated environment long before construction begins.

HIL testing

This simulated testing is better known as Hardware-In-the-Loop testing. “HIL testing is the ideal way to let all sorts of things go wrong with the system without hazarding the people involved in the real system,” says Paul. “A good example of our work is with crane operations or offshore access gangways. When working with systems like these, there are a number of things that you do not want to happen. This includes running them too fast or putting them in a dangerous position. HIL testing allows us to test a lot of different scenarios in a short amount of time.”

The productivity of HIL testing is particularly pertinent when discussing destructive testing. In real life this is not only expensive, but is also accompanied by inherent safety issues. To this end Controllab can carry out up to 200 destructive tests per day at their in-house HIL facilities.

Paul points out that, in addition to system design, a digital twin also allows the optimisation of Human Machine Interface. “A system operator has to have instant access to all the necessary information. For this you have to design user-friendly screens – and Bachmann has the perfect software for that.”

Operational phase

Controllab also uses the concept of the digital twin during the operational phase of a dynamic system. “When a shipping company wants to see how its fleet is performing, we can look back at several months of data,” Christian notes. “Or maybe a client needs faster feedback. In this instance we can take data from the real system, then investigate this in our simulation model to determine how to make that system work more efficiently. We can carry out this process within a matter of hours.”

Controllab’s 20-sim software is complemented by its VR and AR products, which can be used to display the digitally created environment. “VR is typically used when you want to show how a system works. AR, on the other hand, is for when you have to interact with the environment,” explains Christian.

Technical cooperation

Paul is keen to highlight the all-inclusive character of the bond between Bachmann and Controllab. “Our customers are generally system integrators working with complex control systems. Our cooperation with Bachmann is very interesting for them because they get so much more than a hardware vendor. Bachmann uses an open platform for its PLC systems. Whereas a lot of other companies have closed systems with restricted possibilities, Bachmann’s open system allows the client to choose which software he wants to use.”

This comprehensive nature of the working relationship with Controllab is most probably the key to its success. Cooperation and interaction can be seen at the more public sales-related events – trade fairs and product demonstrations, for example. Collaboration also definitely occurs in the more technical areas too. “We also have very close contact with Bachmann’s engineers in Feldkirch, Austria,” says Christian. “They update us early in the process with the functionalities that are relevant to our work. This allows us to give our customers an insight into new PLC systems and software versions. These years of cooperation have helped integrate our products to become more user-friendly and more failsafe.”