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„Off to a perfect start“

Virtual commissioning of Bihler plants

Otto Bihler Maschinenfabrik creates digital twins of complex manufacturing solutions and commissions the entire system virtually in advance. This allows the machine to be configured optimally, increases the quality of the software and ensures fast, smooth initial commissioning and optimization of the production system.

Otto Bihler Maschinenfabrik creates a digital twin of all its high-tech manufacturing solutions, such as the BIMERIC BM servo production and assembly system, creating a virtual image of the entire manufacturing process. This permits the virtual commissioning of the machine long before the start of productive assembly. “Virtual commissioning provides valuable insights throughout the entire life cycle,” explains Thomas Niggl from Bihler’s tooling design department. “It allows a wide variety of production processes to be run through and tested in their entirety. Malfunctions and sources of error are thus quickly revealed and can be eliminated as early as the design phase. Virtual commissioning thus makes real commissioning during final assembly far easier and ensures problem-free assembly.” It also enhances the quality of the Bihler system and the associated software, for example in the form of a tailored user interface for customer-specific solutions. As a result, the customer receives a particularly reliable, high-performance Bihler solution with maximum process reliability.

Although Virtual Commissioning (VC) requires more time and effort up-front, it reduces subsequent setup and commissioning times and improves system quality.

Detailed presentation

At Otto Bihler Maschinenfabrik, the digital twins of the systems are created during the development process on the basis of the design data. TheNX Mechatronics Concept Designer software from Siemens is used to do this. This data is then used to perform virtual commissioning at specially configured simulation workstations in Halblech. These workstations include a PC and the Bihler VC 1 control panel and associated electronic handwheel. Niggl: “The VC 1 controller can be used in particular to program the axis movements of the NC units. The VC 1 controls the digital twin and implements the corresponding material flow. The system uses a bidirectional interface, and the associated sensor signals are fed back to the controller.” All programmed axis movements can thus be followed 1:1 on the virtual model, as can their impact on the material flow and the component being manufactured. “Virtual commissioning of a Bihler system improves our understanding of the processing sequence in the machine and the control system,” explains Niggl. After the optimum process sequence has been configured, the program created on the VC 1 controller is transferred to the real machine. The system can then be started up in real time with all the requisite tools and components.

Valuable time and quality benefits

To date, Otto Bihler Maschinenfabrik has already commissioned more than 20 highly complex manufacturing solutions virtually. The feasibility of components with a high degree of variability has also been successfully confirmed, including testing for crashes and the sequencing of the positioning axes. In all projects, it became apparent that “the simulations enabled all subsequent setup and commissioning times to be reduced by up to 15 percent,” Niggl reports. “The time savings come from the fact that work can be done on the system in parallel: Our software specialists program virtually, while at the same time our engineers set up the real system.” Bihler uses this time saving to reduce lead times and increase quality. “There is a lot of work involved in modeling the digital twin, but it pays off for both parties,” says Niggl in conclusion. “In addition, the digital twin of the Bihler system can subsequently be used for training purposes, such as virtual Bihler VC 1 training.” This technology is also used in the area of feasibility and project studies. Here, production processes are simulated even before a quotation is prepared.

Thomas Niggl
Bihler tooling design department

Tel.: +49(0)8368/18-576


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