Hardware in the loop simulation-based training for automated manufacturing systems operators
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Simulation-Based-Training (SBT) allows to train the operators of complex machinery within a safe virtual environment by means of effective lifelike learning experiences. SBT has been efficiently used in medical, aerospace and military fields and it may provide a competitive advantage also for the training of operators in mechatronic plants. In fact, at the current state of the art, human-machine interaction still heavily impacts on the final performances of automated plants. Since the fast-evolving process dynamics of the machinery is controlled and supervised by complex software logics, the main challenge for effective and valid SBT concerns the development of a real-time simulation, where the control system responsiveness is fully reproduced. This paper deals with a novel SBT workbench used for steel plants operator training, discussing the real-time simulation architecture developed for the purpose. Following a hybrid process simulation approach, real-time control Hardware-In-the-Loop technology assures seamless and accurate reproduction of the real plant, also achieving the desired Man-in-the-Loop practice for the operator interaction. A conceptual architecture for a virtual interactive prototype is proposed, including controllers and interfaces for trainer and trainees. A case study on an electric arc furnace is implemented within a Virtual Commissioning tool, analyzing its capabilities and limitations.
Paper presented at the Proceedings of the 24th International Conference on Flexible Automation & Intelligent Manufacturing, held May 20-23, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas, and organized by the Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Lean Systems, University of Texas at San AntonioIncludes bibliographical references