IT in Manufacturing

Faster results with a digital twin

April 2019 IT in Manufacturing

High tech company Grenzebach’s portfolio includes the simulation of material flow in complex plants in the glass industry. To achieve this, Grenzebach uses Siemens’ simulation solutions. Together, the two companies have developed the most recent product from Grenzebach, the tin-air speed stacker, a machine for stacking all types of glass sheet. This expertise has produced a Siemens digital twin for the first time, as well as the motion control. This allowed all the functions and permutations of the stacker to be simulated while simultaneously developing the initial motion control program to provide an optimum starting point for virtual commissioning. By running what were previously sequential development steps in parallel, it was possible to reduce both development times and costs significantly.

The tin-air speed stacker is a three-axis rapid stacker which can selectively pick up glass sheets from the tin side or the air side and rapidly place them vertically on a glass rack – up to 20 times a minute. This represents a 30% improvement in stacking performance and makes the tin-air speed stacker the most powerful stacker in its class. The motion control is provided by a Simotion D445 motion control system with the Handling Advanced universal library as well as Sinamics S120 modular converters and Simotics S servomotors. Grenzebach was venturing into completely new ground with this development. “In order to get to grips with the potential singularities of the kinematics, which were similar to those found in articulated robots, we decided to build a digital twin for the first time,” explains Roland Jenning, head of Innovation at Grenzebach.

Erring on the side of caution

The digital twin was produced using the NX Mechatronics Designer software from Siemens PLM Software. The initial motion control programs were created at the same time as the digital twin, which reduced the development time and time to market significantly. To make the simulation of the programmed movements in the digital twin as close to reality as possible, Grenzebach chose a ‘hardware in the loop’ design in which the control is connected to the kinematic modal in NX via a Simit simulation unit. The program is then tested using the Simotion Scout engineering system; Simit picks up errors and highlights weak points. This allows processes to be optimised long before the first actual commissioning. However, this is not the end of the digital twin’s usefulness. Future modifications to the plant or changes to the product can be played out virtually in advance and checked for errors without disrupting continuous operation.

For more information contact Kaylin Pather, Siemens Digital Factory and Process Industries and Drives, +27 11 652 3652,,


Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

Yokogawa’s Smart Terminal Automation Solution
April 2019, Yokogawa South Africa , IT in Manufacturing
Yokogawa has accumulated more than two decades of experience in the automation of such terminals and supplied its Terminal Automation Solution to suit varying customer needs.

Listening to the Voice of the Machine
April 2019, Parker Hannifin Sales Company South , IT in Manufacturing
The value of discrete IoT.

Measurement data on the lookout for artificial intelligence
April 2019, Phoenix Contact , IT in Manufacturing
In the global race for competitive prices, it is the most efficient processes that win the race.

IoT-enabled field services improve industrial asset availability
Technews Industry Guide: Maintenance, Reliability & Asset Optimisation 2019 , IT in Manufacturing
Today, many equipment manufacturers are reclaiming the service relationship from the distribution channels with a modern field service management system and remote monitoring.

Understanding how predictive analytics tools benefit power utility management
Technews Industry Guide: Maintenance, Reliability & Asset Optimisation 2019, IS³ - Industry Software, Solutions & Support , IT in Manufacturing
This paper reviews how predictive analytics tools can be applied to both utility operations and maintenance.

Seamless acquisition and analysis of plant data
Technews Industry Guide: Maintenance, Reliability & Asset Optimisation 2019, Beckhoff Automation , IT in Manufacturing
TwinCAT Analytics supports the ability to investigate machine optimisation and facilitate predictive maintenance.

Siemens infrastructure technology day
April 2019, Siemens Digital Industries , News
Siemens recently held an infrastructure technology day at its Midrand premises. The highlight was the launch of the new Sinamics G120X frequency converter range, which has been specially optimised for ...

Mining in the Industry 4.0 era
April 2019 , IT in Manufacturing
Pitram from Micromine can assist mining operations to automate and boost efficiency.

Stepping carefully into the Fourth Industrial Revolution
April 2019 , IT in Manufacturing
Rapid advances in technology and artificial intelligence in the mining industry raise issues like data protection, intellectual property ownership and legal liability. In the current absence of specific ...

A clean solution
April 2019, Siemens Digital Industries , Analytical Instrumentation & Environmental Monitoring
Biological wastewater treatment using regenerated activated carbon saves disposal costs.