Plant modernization in the metal industry
‘Virtual commissioning’ provides the possibility of testing and verifying the perfect functioning of automation systems and optimizing controls and process steps before the ‘real’ commissioning takes place in the metal industry. Various successfully accomplished projects at the Gienanth iron foundry in Eisenberg, Germany, have demonstrated that commissioning times can be markedly reduced by simulating the equipment and functions beforehand – in a ‘digital factory’.
In modernization or rebuilding projects, every single day counts. Once a plant has been taken out of operation for a rebuilding measure, everything possible is done to bring it back on stream as fast and smoothly as possible. One is frequently presented with the situation that the time left for commissioning the electrical equipment is only very short due to unforeseeable delays occurring during the installation of the mechanical equipment. Against this backdrop, the success of a revamping project largely depends on how quickly and reliably the hardware and control software can be tested and optimized.
Performing ‘virtual commissioning’ will dramatically reduce the time needed for the commissioning on site.
The ‘digital factory’
In numerous projects, Küttner Automation – the company within the Küttner group specialized in automation systems – has made it possible to reduce commissioning times and accelerate ramp-ups by applying the approach of ‘virtual commissioning’. The process is based on the creation of a testing environment in which all mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic and electrical components of the control systems are connected into a ‘digital factory’. This simulation scenario allows processes to be optimized and faults in the functional sequence to be identified and corrected beforehand, i.e. prior to the installation on site. The result: all automation sequences have been tested and approved before the new plant goes live.
A recent example
Küttner has recently revamped various facilities at the Gienanth foundry in Eisenberg, Germany, among others a sand preparation plant. For this project, Küttner Automation supplied the automation systems, including pre-testing in a virtual commissioning environment. Roland Walter, Project Manager at Gienanth, summarizes the project: “We met all deadlines, although we only had two weeks’ time for the commissioning. The virtual commissioning had made us confident at a very early stage of the project that the processes would run as desired. Our production staff were given the opportunity to give their input and test the sequences beforehand. This has greatly contributed to a fast commissioning process.”
The simulation allows processes to be optimized long before the real equipment is commissioned.
The control equipment is commissioned in a virtual environment at a very early stage of the project – in parallel with the manufacture and assembly of the machinery. This means no testing and fine-tuning of the control software under time pressure as is very often the case when these activities take place during the ‘real’ commissioning. Therefore, the commissioning activities on site can concentrate on the signal and field level. Moreover, the virtual approach often results in a shorter ramp-up phase, as there will be fewer failures and plant standstills. Küttner Automation in Trier always offers virtual commissioning as an option for modernization projects. Simulating the preliminary commissioning involves some effort in the beginning.
But this pays off later in the form of major time savings. Küttner’s engineers know from a great number of projects that the time needed to commission the real systems can be cut by up to 75 percent when the software has been pre-tested in a virtual commissioning scenario.
About Küttner Automation
Küttner group is a German medium-sized engineering company based in the heart of the Ruhr region. Küttner has longstanding experience as a supplier of industrial plant and equipment. The company’s main activities are in the fields of conveying systems, recovery and recycling technology, industrial furnace engineering and heat recovery solutions with references all over the world.
The range of services offered includes project planning and design, equipment supply as well as installation and commissioning of complete plants including the associated control and data processing systems. The independent subsidiary Küttner Automation, based in Trier, Germany, designs comprehensive and reliable control systems for complex industrial processes and tasks. Küttner Automation accompanies its customers during all stages of a project – from the design concept, the selection of the most suitable control technology through to user training, either remotely from its facilities in Trier or at the customers’ sites anywhere in the world.
For more information about Küttner Automation GmbH, please visit
This article was first published in the September/October edition of Managing Aging Plants magazine. For a subscription, please check http://www.managingagingplants.com/print/subscription.html