IT in Manufacturing

Faster results with a digital twin

June 2019 IT in Manufacturing

The high-tech company Grenzebach’s portfolio includes the simulation of material flow in complex plants in the glass industry, which it achieves using 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 that allows 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 stacker is a three-axis system that can selectively pick up glass sheets, from the tin side or the air side, and 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 of its type. The motion control is provided by a Simotion D445 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 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 operations.

For more information contact Jennifer Naidoo, Siemens Digital Industries, +27 11 652 2795,,


Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

SA company launches AI-based risk screening mobile app
October 2020 , IT in Manufacturing
The Instant Vitals app converts a mobile phone into a key vital signs medical device that could save lives when screening for Covid-19 symptoms.

Danfoss debuts Alsense
November 2020, Danfoss , IT in Manufacturing
Danfoss has updated and enhanced its service offering to create a more sustainable, scalable and secure cloud-based portal for managing food retail operations.

Digitalising mineral processing operations
November 2020 , IT in Manufacturing
Mining’s accelerated move toward digital solutions is being supported by FLSmidth’s decades of research and development. The company has over 80 projects underway to improve its mining-related offerings.

Sinumerik One Dynamics for motion control
November 2020, Siemens Digital Industries , Motion Control & Drives
Siemens has launched three powerful technology packages exclusively for the CNC Sinumerik One.

Schneider Electric provides digital technologies to the mining industry
November 2020, Schneider Electric South Africa , IT in Manufacturing
“The organisation has invested significantly to develop a specialised competence in mining applications,” explains Marc Ramsay, vice president industry business unit at Schneider Electric South Africa. ...

Smart manufacturing and the new normal
November 2020, Absolute Perspectives , IT in Manufacturing
In manufacturing, it is likely that billions of dollars have been lost in 2020, while a high percentage of manufacturing jobs have been negatively impacted.

Will OT take over MES?
October 2020 , IT in Manufacturing
Industry 4.0 forces the convergence where IT needs to knock on the door of a manufacturing plant and sell OT, not IT or MES.

Get full value from data science
October 2020, Omron Electronics , IT in Manufacturing
As huge amounts of data become available from the factory floor, information must be extracted and presented to the right audience, at the right time, and in the right way.

Predictive analytics for artificial lifts
October 2020, Emerson Automation Solutions , IT in Manufacturing
Machine learning and artificial intelligence applications in artificial lift systems have seen a growth in importance recently and are no longer a nice to have, but essential tools for well optimisation.

How can manufacturers survive under the new normal to 2021 and beyond?
October 2020, RJ Connect , IT in Manufacturing
Thanks to COVID-19, the manufacturing industry is entering the era of unmanned operations. How best can companies adapt to the new normal and maintain efficient operations?