Complex physical plants such as modern MHS are controlled by multiple control units on different automation levels. Traditionally, integrating and testing new controller functions and hardware requires a shutdown of the plant, resulting in significant downtime costs. In addition, achieving high test coverage using the real physical plant is time-consuming and costly. Furthermore, significant test automation of plant operation modes is hard to achieve, if not impossible, resulting in further downtimes due to late failure detection. To overcome these challenges, IAV designed a virtual plant of the MHS system and deployed it onto a Baseline real-time target machine. The Baseline real-time target machine was then connected to the PLC using communication interfaces such as PROFINET.
With this setup, IAV engineers could now already extend test coverage by using virtual commissioning with a digital twin. This was done by executing reproducible scenarios for I/O and Fieldbus communication and by performing signal manipulation to include erroneous behavior of components or Human-machine-interaction (HMI) entries.