Scenario 2: Industrial automation solution for controlling the process of sorting packages in a high storage warehouse

The goal is to familiarize the end users with the functional principles of industrial automation and the details of the most important components necessary to control the process of sorting packages in a high storage warehouse. Through

Switched reluctance motor in VR environment, (a) Components of the motor parts in VR look, (b) Partly assembled motor

Figure 18.3 Switched reluctance motor in VR environment, (a) Components of the motor parts in VR look, (b) Partly assembled motor.

the course of this scenario, the students will learn about pneumatic actuator construction and rules for selecting proper pneumatic actuators for a particular task and will be able to master the fundamentals of PLC programming.

The VR environment in this exercise is a representation of the final part in the process of production and distribution of electric motors. The high storage warehouse, where the motors are stacked, consists of racks, a lift platform, a roller-belt conveyor, a pneumatic cylinder for transferring the packages on the racks, a device with electric drive for stacking pallets on and retrieving pallets from shelves, a PLC controller with power supply board and several different sensors, actuators and pneumatics components.

Through the use of VR, students have the opportunity to interact with each element of the controlling line, learn about the construction of pneumatic actuators, operate the sorting line, select proper sensors and assemble the sorting line from partial elements, while ‘being present’ in a simulation of an actual working environment. Every actuator used in this exercise can be disassembled providing the possibility for the students to get acquainted with its construction. Each part has an attached description (containing the name, purpose, type of material, etc.) and can be viewed from any side or angle.

Moreover, it is possible to run a simple simulation of particular actuators working in a pneumatic system with solenoid valves and damping valves. During this simulation, the students have the possibility to adjust the force and speed of the piston and model the operation of the actuator with an incorrect connection of the pneumatic system.

As mentioned before, all elements of the exercise are created in VR as interactive models, including the PLC controllers. The user will be able to program the controller in VR using a ladder diagram (containing basic elements such as logic functions, slope detection, time blocks, counters, etc.). The sorting line will be launched according to the user’s programming. The students will be able to individually assess the correctness of the created programming and experience full-scale effects of potential errors or misconfiguration. Additionally, this scenario includes states of emergency that may lead to equipment damage.

After learning the basics (e.g. principle of operation, construction, types of components), students start to arrange the whole process by

  • • selecting appropriate components for particular process;
  • • programming the PLC controller (i.e. to ensure appropriate package sorting according to colour, size, etc.) and avoid collisions or unintentional stopping of the sorting line.

It is assumed that the students should experience positive and negative outcomes while programming the controlling line. Negative outcomes include wrongly programed PLC controllers or component selection. In such a case, packages can fall, stack, push each other etc. In addition, to emphasise learning to react to states of emergency, the VR environment provides controls similar to those in the real world (i.e. buttons and switches used for emergency shutdown or for manual mode, e.g. reversing the belt conveyor or the lift platform).

Scenario 3: A waste sorting line with belt

This scenario is composed of two sub-scenarios: Scenario A, domestic waste sorting line and Scenario B, industrial waste sorting line. The user can choose, at the beginning of the VR tutorial session, to sort domestic waste or industrial waste. Figure 18.4 illustrates the overview of scenario 3.

Scenario A aims to build and use a waste sorting line able to segregate materials like plastic, glass and organic waste. In Scenario В the user can sort other kinds of materials (e.g. the ferromagnetic and the conductive materials).

The system is composed of sensors, actuators and a single belt whose velocity is set a priori. The waste is assumed to exit from an automatized dispenser and falls on the belt. At the beginning of the tutorial session, the user has to design the sorting line, by choosing the sensors and actuators available in the library, and set their positions along the belt. The user has to set the position of the containers for various materials.

There is one magnetic actuator and two kinds of sensors (inductive and capacitive). The user can set their properties (e.g. frequency and magnitude of current or voltage). In order to make the Scenario work, the characterization of the sensors and actuators in terms of input-output transfer function is modelled with Finite Element Models.

An overview of the waste sorting scenario for the ViMeLa project

Figure 18.4 An overview of the waste sorting scenario for the ViMeLa project.

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