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Title:
SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR FILLING A CONTAINER WITH A FLUID AND/OR OPERATING A MIXING SYSTEM
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/115101
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A method of filling a container (C) with a fluid (F) by way of at least one automation component (AC), the method comprising, through operation of at least one processor: determining (S1) a set of control parameters based on simulating filling of the container (C) at least partially with the fluid (F) by way of the automation component (AC), where- in the simulating takes into account one or more properties (P1, …, Pn) of the container (C), the fluid (F) and/or the at least one automation component (AC); and causing (S2) the at least one automation component (AC) to at least partially fill the container (C) according to at least one of the control parameters of the set of control parameters determined.

Inventors:
MAERTENS, Philip (Filips Van Kleefstraat 3, 8820 Torhout, 8820, BE)
Application Number:
EP2018/080620
Publication Date:
June 20, 2019
Filing Date:
November 08, 2018
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
SIEMENS AKTIENGESELLSCHAFT (Werner-Von-Siemens-Straße 1, München, 80333, DE)
International Classes:
G05D7/06; B67C3/00; G05B13/04; G05B17/02
Foreign References:
US20160016773A12016-01-21
US5455763A1995-10-03
US5320425A1994-06-14
US20080091281A12008-04-17
US20120232870A12012-09-13
US20060241791A12006-10-26
US3443608A1969-05-13
US5320425A1994-06-14
US20090118866A12009-05-07
US5571281A1996-11-05
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Claims:
Claims

1. A method of filling a container (C) with a fluid (F) by way of at least one automation component (AC) , the method comprising, through operation of at least one processor:

determining (SI) a set of control parameters based on simu lating filling of the container (C) at least partially with the fluid (F) by way of the automation component (AC) , where in the simulating takes into account one or more properties (PI, ..., Pn) of the container (C) , the fluid (F) and/or the at least one automation component (AC) ; and

causing (S2) the at least one automation component (AC) to at least partially fill the container (C) according to at least one of the control parameters of the set of control parame ters determined.

2. The method according to the preceding claim,

wherein the one or more properties (PI, ..., Pn) of the con tainer (C) comprise at least one of geometry, stiffness, di mensions, material, surface structure, temperature, electric potential, electric conductivity, or any combination thereof, and/or

wherein the one or more properties (PI, ..., Pn) of the fluid (F) comprise at least one of material, density, temperature, viscosity, surface tension, electric potential, electric con ductivity, carbonization or any combination thereof, and/or wherein the one or more properties of the automation compo nent (AC) comprises at least one of position, velocity, ac celeration, tilt angle, tilt angular velocity, tilt angular acceleration, or any combination thereof of the automation component (AC) .

3. The method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the step of simulating (SI) comprises retrieving (S3) one or more properties (PI, ..., Pn) of the container (C) from a virtual model (VM) of the container (C) comprising the properties (PI, ..., Pn) of the container (C) , i.e. a digital twin of the container (C) , and/or wherein the step of simulating (SI) comprises retrieving (S4) one or more properties (PI, ..., Pn) of the fluid (F) from a virtual model (VM) of the fluid (F) comprising the properties (PI, ..., Pn) of the fluid (F) , i.e. a digital twin of the flu id (F) ,

wherein the step of simulating (SI) comprises retrieving (S5) one or more properties (PI, ..., Pn) of the automation compo nent (AC) from a virtual model (VM) of the automation compo nent (AC) .

4. The method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein in case an update of the properties (PI, ..., Pn) of the container (C) , the fluid (F) and/or the automation compo nent (AC) is available,

determining (S6) an updated set of control parameters based on simulating filling of the container (C) at least partially with the fluid (F) based on the one or more updated proper ties of the container (C) , the fluid (F) and/or the automa tion component (AC) ,

and causing (SI) at least one automation component to at least partially fill the container (AC) according to at least one of the control parameters of the updated set of control parameters determined.

5. The method according to any one of the preceding claims, storing (S8) the set of control parameters determined in a memory, and/or transmitting (S9) the set of control parame ters determined to the automation component, preferably via a communication channel (IF), e.g. an interface, between the simulation component (SC) and the automation component (AC) .

6. The method according to any one of the preceding claims, receiving, by the simulation component, a set of parameters for filling a specific container with a specific fluid from the automation component (AC) and/or from a central storage, in which central storage a plurality of set of parameters are stored .

7. The method according to any one of the preceding claims, initiating (Sll) the simulation based on a current set of pa rameters used by the automation component (AC) for filling the container (C) with the fluid,

transmitting (10) the current set of control parameters from the automation component (AC) to the simulation component (SC) via a communication channel (IF) between the automation component (AC) and the simulation component (SC) .

8. The method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the automation component (AC) and the simulation com ponent (SC) are integrated and run on a single processor or multi-processor hardware.

9. A computer program product comprising program code that when executed, cause at least one processor to carry out any one of the method steps of claims 1 to 8.

10. A method of operating a mixing system (MS), the mixing system (MS) comprising a container (C) , at least one sub stance (S) to be mixed, and at least one automation component (AC) for performing the mixing, the method comprising, through operation of at least one processor:

determining (S14) a set of control parameters based on simu lating mixing of the at least one substance (S) by way of the automation component (AC) , wherein the simulating takes into account one or more properties (PI, ..., Pn) of the container (C) , the least one substance (S) and/or the at least one au tomation component (AC) ; and

causing (S15) the at least one automation component (AC) to mix the at least one substance (S) in the container (C) ac cording to at least one of the control parameters of the set of control parameters determined.

11. The method according to the preceding claim, further com prising the steps of:

setting (S16) at least one of a mixing status, a mixing time and/or mixing power requirement; stopping (S17) simulating the mixing when according to the simulation the set mixing status, the set mixing time and/or the mixing power requirement is reached.

12. The method according to any one of the preceding claims 10 to 11,

wherein the step of simulating comprises retrieving (S18) one or more properties (PI, ..., Pn) of the container (C) from a virtual model (VM) of the container (C) comprising the prop erties (PI, ..., Pn) of the container C(), i.e. a digital twin of the container, and/or

wherein the step of simulating comprises retrieving (S19) one or more properties (PI, ..., Pn) of the substance (S) from a virtual model of the substance (S) comprising the properties of the substance (S) , i.e. a digital twin of the substance, wherein the step of simulating comprises retrieving (S20) one or more properties of the automation component (AC) from a virtual model (VM) of the automation component (AC) .

13. The method according to any one of the preceding claims 10 to 12,

transmitting (S21) the set of control parameters determined to the automation component (AC) , preferably via a communica tion channel (IF) between the simulation component (SC) and the automation component (AC) ,

adapting (S22) the operation of the at least one automation component (AC) to mix the at least one substance (S) in the container (C) according to at least one of the control param eters of the set of control parameters determined.

14. The method according to any one of the preceding claims 10 to 13,

initiating the simulation based on a current set of parame ters used by the automation component (AC) for mixing the substance in the container (C) , preferably during the actual mixing is performed by the automation component (AC) .

15. A computer program product comprising program code that when executed, cause at least one processor to carry out any one of the method steps of claims 10 to 14.

Description:
Description

System and method for filling a container with a fluid and/or operating a mixing system

The present disclosure is directed, in general, to computer- aided design (CAD) , computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) , com puter-aided engineering (CAE) , visualization, simulation, and manufacturing systems, product data management (PDM) systems, product lifecycle management (PLM) systems, manufacturing op erations systems (MOM) and similar systems, that are used to create, use, and manage data for products and other items (collectively referred to herein as product systems) .

Automation systems may be used to facilitate manufacturing products. Such systems may benefit from improvements. For ex ample from patent application publication US 20060241791 A1 a method for simulating a process line has become known. There in a machine arrangement is simulated in its processing be havior with use of static building data, static system data, process data and a simulation model of the machine arrange ment components as input variables.

In order to fill containers with beverages an apparatus ac cording to patent application publication US 3443608 A has become known. Obviously, it is always desirable to provide a quicker container filling action wherein carbonated beverages can be forced into or otherwise filled into containers to fill them with such beverages with a minimum of foaming ac tion. Also, the use of readily exchangeable, removable and/or replaceable filling heads, e.g. nozzles, therein is desira ble .

Due to the fact that also the bottle shapes may change rapid ly and the variations in different products are increasing, new and flexible optimized filling methods are needed. Exist ing machines have to be adapted to have bigger throughput and consume less energy. An apparatus that could flexibly adapt to shape changes and product changes would therefore provide a great added value.

In the case of mixing, a cement mixing system simulator and simulation method has become known from patent application publication US5320425 A. This method comprises recording data identifying a performance evaluation of an operator in re sponse to a comparison between at least one of the determined material flow properties and a corresponding predetermined characteristic .

Furthermore control system design for a mixing system with multiple inputs has become known from patent application pub lication US2009118866 A1. The method comprises introducing the at least two materials into a physical system and combin ing the at least two materials to form a mixture thereof. The method also comprises independently controlling a desired characteristic of the mixture and a desired parameter of the physical system, wherein the controlling is based in part on estimating a disturbance.

Automatic cement mixing and density simulator and control system and equipment for oil well cementing has also become known from patent application publication US 5571281 A.

Due to the fact that by mixing one or more (different) sub stances the plant operator may not know when exactly the products have reached their optimal mixing status, the mixing time is performed much longer than needed in order to make sure sufficient mixing is achieved. This can be double of the optimal time or even longer. Thus, in particular in the food and beverages industry mixing times are typically programmed much longer than needed, since the actual conditions of the current batch are not taken into account when the master rec ipe is configured, configured e.g. by way of one or more con trol parameters. So the mixing is performed for a long time, in order to make sure that the product is "well mixed", what ever the specific conditions of the batch are. Furthermore, no effective coupling between a simulation com ponent and an automation component, governing the manufactur ing process, has been realized so far.

It is thus an object to mitigate the problems identified. The present disclosure thus relates to a method of filling a con tainer with a fluid by way of at least one automation compo nent. The invention further relates to a method of operating a mixing system. Further embodiments include respective com puter program products.

According to a first aspect, a method of filling a container with a fluid by way of at least one automation component, may comprise and/or initiate through operation of at least one processor: determining a set of control parameters based on simulating filling of the container at least partially with the fluid by way of the automation component, wherein the simulating takes into account one or more properties of the container, the fluid and/or the at least one automation com ponent. The method may further comprise and/or initiate through operation of the at least one processor: causing the at least one automation component to at least partially fill the container according to at least one of the control param eters of the set of control parameters determined.

According to a second aspect, a method of operating a mixing system, the mixing system comprising a container, at least one substance to be mixed, and at least one automation compo nent for performing the mixing, may comprise and/or initiate through operation of the at least one processor: determining a set of control parameters based on simulating mixing of the at least one substance by way of the automation component, wherein the simulating takes into account one or more proper ties of the container, the least one substance and/or the at least one automation component. The method may further com prise and/or initiate through operation of the at least one processor: causing the at least one automation component to mix the at least one substance in the container according to at least one of the control parameters of the set of control parameters determined.

Furthermore automation systems for carrying out any one of the method steps of the first and/or second aspect are dis closed. That is to say, an automation system operative to perform any one of the method steps of the first and/or sec ond aspect.

Before describing further aspects in more detail, it should be understood that various definitions for certain words and phrases are provided throughout this patent document, and those of ordinary skill in the art will understand that such definitions apply in many, if not most, instances to prior as well as future uses of such defined words and phrases. While some terms may include a wide variety of embodiments, the ap pended claims may expressly limit these terms to specific em bodiments. It should also be appreciated that features ex plained in the context of the suggested methods may also be comprised by the suggested system by appropriately configur ing and adapting the system and vice versa.

The foregoing has outlined rather broadly the technical fea tures of the present disclosure so that those skilled in the art may better understand the detailed description that fol lows. Additional features and advantages of the disclosure will be described hereinafter that form the subject of the claims. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that they may readily use the conception and the specific embodiments disclosed as a basis for modifying or designing other struc tures for carrying out the same purposes of the present dis closure. Those skilled in the art will also realize that such equivalent constructions do not depart from the spirit and scope of the disclosure in its broadest form.

Below, a detailed description is provided using the embodi ments illustrated in the figures. Fig. 1 illustrates an embodiment of a filling line,

Fig . 2 illustrates a more detailed embodiment of a filling line .

Fig . 3 illustrates exemplary parameters of a filling line, Fig. 4 illustrates another embodiment of a filling line, Fig . 5 illustrates an embodiment of a mixing assembly, Fig . 6 illustrates another embodiment of a mixing assem bly.

Fig. 7 illustrates still another embodiment of a mixing assembly .

Fig. 8 illustrates an embodiment of a manufacturing sys tem.

Fig. 9 illustrates an exemplary embodiment of an improved a manufacturing system.

Fig.10 to Fig.15 illustrate exemplary steps of a filling

method .

Fig.16 to Fig.19 illustrate exemplary steps of a mixing meth od .

Fig. 20 illustrates an apparatus for carrying out a filling process .

Fig. 21 illustrates an apparatus for carrying out a mixing process .

Various technologies that pertain to systems and methods for filling and/or mixing will now be described with reference to the drawings, where like reference numerals represent like elements throughout. The drawings discussed below, and the various embodiments used to describe the principles of the present disclosure in this patent document are by way of il lustration only and should not be construed in any way to limit the scope of the disclosure. Those skilled in the art will understand that the principles of the present disclosure may be implemented in any suitably arranged apparatus. It is to be understood that functionality that is described as be ing carried out by certain system elements may be performed by multiple elements. Similarly, for instance, an element may be configured to perform functionality that is described as being carried out by multiple elements. The numerous innova tive teachings of the present application will be described with reference to exemplary non-limiting embodiments.

With reference to Fig. 1, an exemplary automation system is illustrated in the form of a filling line.

Containers C, namely bottles, are fed in the direction indi cated by the arrow by means of a conveyor belt B. A central control unit or, expressed differently, controller or system which includes a process controller which, among other things, controls the operation of the filling line FL . A filling element FE, which may comprise a nozzle N and/or a valve, may be located above the corresponding conveyor belt B. An external connecting line L, e.g. one or more pipes, may be used to connect the filling line FL to an external reser voir or mixer to supply the fluid to be filled, cf. Figure 2.

The filling line FL may thus comprise a revolving system, that is, it has at a rotor which, as is known to a person with skill in the art, rotates about a vertical machine axis. Further one or more filling locations LO are provided that may be uniformly distributed in angular positions and these one or more filling locations are respectively served by one or more filling elements FE . The containers C that are pre sented by a conveyor B are directed to the individual filling locations LO by a bottle input or expressed differently, loading, portion and the filled bottles are removed at a bot tle output or expressed differently, unloading, portion from the filling locations LO and may be returned to the conveyor belt B.

The outlined filling process may be controlled by one or more sensors. Individual process steps may also be controlled by the one or more sensors. The one or more sensors, e.g. pres sure sensors, provide the opportunity to monitor and/or diag nose the individual filling elements during the operation of the filling line FL . Furthermore one or more valves, which may as well as the sen- sors be part of the one or more filling elements FE, may con trol filling of the container with a fluid, for example car bonated beverages, particularly soft drinks and mineral wa ter, in glass and plastic containers.

As shown in Figure 1 the containers C may different shapes and sizes. In general a container C may comprise at least a bottle, a barrel, a keg, a tube, a tank or any combination thereof .

The automation system may comprise a processor configured via executable instructions included in a memory. This processor may execute instruction controlling the filling process, e.g. with respect to time. The controller being configured to re ceive from a corresponding sensor or valve or other automa tion component said at least one indication, e.g. representa tive of a sensed pressure related to at least one correspond ing container; and configured to control at least one control parameter related to filling a container C in the filling line FL; said controller being further configured to control said automation component AC for at least one process parame ter of said filling line.

It should be understood that one or more automation compo nents AC, such as the filling element FE and/or the control ler comprising the processor may also be understood to form one or more automation components AC. That is to say the au tomation system comprises one or more automation components AC. The one or more automation components AC may be realized by way of hardware and/or software.

Figure 2 shows a detailed view of a filling line FL . A fill ing element FE is connected via one or more pipes L to a res ervoir R containing the fluid F to be filled in the one or more containers C. As can be seen, different control parame ters may govern the filling process. In particular the geome- try of the nozzle and the bottle ( -neck) determine the behav ior of the fluid F that is filled in the respective container C. In particular the valve elevation, i.e. the distance of the valve outlet to the container C and the distance of the fluid stream to the interior walls of the bottle ( -neck) de termine the formation of foam, in particular if carbonated fluids are to be filled. Of course, the velocity of the flu id, e.g. when entering the container C, and/or pressure dif ferences play an important role for a filling line and a filling process respectively. These different properties PI, ..., Pn, which may correspond to the control parameters, may be determined and/or recorded and may serve as control parame ters for adjusting operation of the automation system, i.e. one or more components of the automation system. One or more properties PI, ..., Pn may thus be stored, e.g. in the form of one or more control parameters, e.g. as a set of control pa rameters in a (central) storage of an automation system.

In Figure 3 different properties PI, ..., Pn governing the filling process are shown. For example, the height of the reservoir (storage) and its radius may be decisive for the filling process. Furthermore the valve elevation, i.e. its distance to the opening of the container as well as the valve radius may play an important role. Also the connecting pipes L properties such as the pipe wall thickness and/or its bend ing angle may be considered. In addition the type of fluid F and its properties such as carbonization, viscosity and/or temperature may be considered when adjusting the filling pro cess. The adjustment of the behavior of the automation compo nents AC as mentioned above may be carried out by control in structions which in turn are governed by certain control pa rameters. The control parameters in turn may be derived from the properties PI, ..., Pn of the fluid, the one or more (dif ferent) containers C and/or the properties of the automation components AC.

It should be pointed out that in general an automation system may function according to a certain set of control parame- ters, e.g. the parameters available for adjusting the func tions and/or functionalities of the one or more automation components AC. This may as well apply to the process of mix ing described further down.

Due to the fact that the bottle shapes may change rapidly and the variations in different products are increasing, new and flexible optimized filling methods are needed. Existing auto mation components, such as machines, have to be adapted to have bigger throughput and consume less energy. An automation component that can flexibly adapt to shape changes and prod uct changes is a great added value. Thus, optimizing the per formance of a filling process using a connection of one or more automation components with a simulation component and using the actual process parameters as input for the simula tion and using new set points, i.e. one or more control pa rameters of a set of control parameters determined by the au tomation component, to adapt the filling process, is pro posed .

Now turning to Figure 4, through the use of a Digital Twin, i.e. a virtual model VM, of a filling line FL, the filling process can be optimized in production by simulating the be havior of the filling of the product in process and adapting the control parameters in the automation component AC, such as an automation controller, PLC, in particular after the filling has been started. The simulation can be targeted to get a better qualitative filling, a faster filling and/or an energy consumption optimization. The online connection be tween the simulation data of the digital twin, denoted as VM, and automation controller AC is essential and unique to opti mize the performance of a running machine. Thus, properties of the one or more automation components AC may be aggregated in a virtual model VM of the respective one or more automa tion component AC. The same applies to one or more fluids F and/or one or more containers C which may have their respec tive virtual models. The virtual model VM, also renowned in the industry as digi tal twin, may have one or more components which themselves are a digital model of a corresponding automation component AC, a container C and/or the fluid F. The virtual model VM may be part of the simulation component SC or may itself form the entire simulation component SC.

In the food and beverage industry the strategy for the fill ing process of production machines is typically programmed based on individual knowledge or by performing additional em piric test runs - which leads to non-optimal results or addi tional effort if control parameters for the fluid F and/or the container C are changing. In particular, in case of small lot size production, the optimization process is either not optimal, leading to non-optimal performance for the machine, or leads to additional effort. Thus, overall machine perfor mance by optimizing the time and quality critical filling process in filling installations FL may be increased.

The simulation can be used to provide various optimized fill ing strategies targeting small lot sizes with variations in fluidics and container shapes. The simulation can even be used to fine tune in process, that is to say online, optimi zation through a connection with an industrial automation controller, e.g. a Simatic S7 PLC . Improvement in quality and speed, especially for small lot size production may thus be achieved. Hence, less manual empiric testing is required.

Two possible embodiments are described in the following:

Off-line solution:

The filling strategy, e.g. the movement of one or more fill ing nozzles and/or one or more containers C, is simulated of fline, that is to say no filling is taking place, for a rele vant set of control parameters and/or properties, e.g. of the fluid F, the container C and/or the automation component AC. An optimal strategy result is stored (file, database) . The optimal strategy may be subject to one or more conditions set, e.g with respect to time, energy and/or filling level.

An interface IF with the automation component AC, such as an automation controller, in particular a PLC, picks up the rel evant strategy, e.g. in the form of one or more control pa rameters out of a set of control parameters determine by the simulation component SC, for a filling process and automati cally adapts the automation behavior. New conditions, e.g. due to updated properties PI, ..., Pn, for example caused by a change in fluid F, container C and/or automation component AC, can again be simulated offline and published to a central storage or directly transmitted to the automation component, e.g. the above mentioned automation controller.

On-line solution:

An interface IF between the automation component AC, e.g. the above mentioned automation controller, such as a PLC, and the simulation component SC, comprising one or more virtual mod els VM, exchanges control parameters. Once the filling pro cess is started, the simulation starts in parallel and uses actual control parameters (fill level, material related pa rameters, etc.) to start the optimization calculation. After a reasonable time, the automation component AC is receiving new set points, e.g. in the form of one or more control pa rameters determined by the simulation component SC, that in fluence the process, overwriting the current set points, e.g. in the form of one or more control parameters determined by the simulation component, of the control recipe. The connec tion with the automation component AC permits to change set- points in full operation. Ideally, both, the simulation com ponent SC and the automation component AC run on the same piece of hardware (e.g. a Multifunctional Platform S7-1500 PLC) .

Customers will be interested in this specific added value for them (better quality, reduction of process time, thus reduc tion of energy consumption and increasing throughput) . The above embodiments may be particularly applicable for bot tle and packaged food filling machines. Another advantage is the increased production rate, the reduced time to market for new products and brands, e.g. due to new bottle design, and that the filling material properties may be taken into ac count .

Now turning to Figure 5, a container C, in this case a tank, being used for a mixing process in which the substance S to be mixed is caused to circulate, is shown. By way of example the substance S is one of: at least one component of a bat tery, at least one component of a pharmaceutical product, a chemical substance. Of course other substances S may be sub ject to mixing.

In this case the mixer MS comprises a rotatable shaft to which stirring elements are attached, i.e. forming an impel ler. However other stirring or mixing elements may exist. For example, mixing may be achieved by way of a pump causing the material in the tank to circulate. The shaft and the mixing element may be an automation component AC already.

Returning to the present case of an impeller, in the case of the known mixing mechanisms, the high rotational velocity of the impeller may cause detrimental effects. For example, there may be no mixing effect or in another case high rota tional speeds are necessary. High rotational speeds are dis advantageous not only because of the enormously high energy consumption, but also because of the unavoidable splashing of the stirred substance.

Furthermore the fill level of the substance in the container may play an important role when stirring a substance S, as e.g. the fill level may be above or below some of the stir ring elements and thus mixing of the substance is affected. Hence, the operation of the mixer MS may dependent on differ ent parameters such as flow behavior with change of the sub stance fill level and/or the possibility of foaming. These challenges require the investigation of flow behavior in the container C and the identification of conditions that limit productivity. Thus simulating the fill level, e.g. by way of a 3D model, may improve operation, e.g. by way of determining surface turbulence and/or considering fill level profiles de pendent on the fill level height in relation to the position of the stirring elements. Thereby an optimum fill level of the container C that causes a maximum volume turbulence

(which maximizes mixing effect) and/or a minimum surface tur bulence (which minimizes foaming) may be determined. Thus op timum operating conditions may be determined by way of the simulation. It should be understood that the according simu lation may be carried out by a simulation component SC, e.g. implement in software.

As can be seen by way of Figure 6, an online simulation and optimization of the mixing process may be performed. Online simulation of flow behavior to simulate the mixing of differ ent substances S may also be performed before the production is performed. The simulation may identify of conditions with optimal performance based on the simulation based on require ments of the plant operator (energy consumption, time, ..) . Subsequently the optimized control parameter set may be transmitted to the automation component AC, e.g. a PLC, be fore or during the mixing process.

An simulation component SC, corresponding to or comprising one or more virtual models VM, may be used that simulated the mixing process. The simulation component SC may retrieve rel evant mixing parameters, such as control parameters from the one or more automation components AC, such as a PLC. Alterna tively the simulation component may retrieve properties of the container C, the substance (s) S and/or the automation component (s) AC. Furthermore the simulation component SC may derive the respective control parameters from the properties PI, ..., Pn of the substance (s) S, the container C and/or the automation component (s) AC. A set of optimized control param eters may be output by the simulation component SC and trans- mitted to the one or more automation components AC, i.e. the PLC . To this end, the simulation component SC may be located on a separate hardware or may be comprised on the same hard ware or platform as the automation component AC, e.g. the PLC.

Figure 7 shows an embodiment comprising a single platform on which the simulation component SC and the automation compo nent AC, or a part thereof, is located. The simulation compo nent SC may perform an online simulation of flow behavior to simulate the mixing of different one or more substances S be fore the production. The simulation component SC may identify one or more conditions with optimal performance based re quirements of the plant operator (energy consumption, time, etc.) . The optimized control parameter set, that is to say one or more control parameters, may be transmitted to the au tomation component AC before or during the mixing process.

The simulation component SC may comprise one or more virtual models VM of the automation component AC, the container C and/or the one or more substances S to be mixed. For example, both, one or more automation components AC, e.g. a automation controller, such as PLC, and the simulation component SC may be integrated in a Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) .

Now turning to Figure 8, another more abstract embodiment of the method and system proposed is disclosed herein. In a first step simulation of a production plant may be performed based on a set of control parameters retrieved from the one or more automation components AC of the automation system. Alternatively, historic data may be retrieved based on which the process in the automation system AS is performed. The historic set of control parameters may be retrieved from a central storage in which data from previous operation of the automation system is stored. The simulation component SC may determine a (optimized) set of control parameters. The set of control parameters is then provided to an automation compo nent. The automation component AC may be implemented by way software and/or hardware. In the example of Figure 8 a first part of the automation component AC is implemented by soft ware, i.e. SW PLC . This first automation component AC trans forms one or more control parameters of the set of control parameters determined into control instruction for a second automation component AC implanted in hardware, i.e. HW PLC. The automation instructions are subsequently carried out by the second automation component AC.

As evident, the production process carried out by the automa tion system AS may be a filling process and/or a mixing pro cess. For example, the filling process may comprise the fill ing process and/or filling line as described in connection with Figure 1 to 4. In another example the mixing process and/or mixing assembly as described in connection with Fig ures 5 to 7. It should also be understood that the mixing process may be carried out before the filling process or the other way around. It should also be understood that the auto mation system AS may comprise both, a filling system and a mixing system and corresponding processes of filling and mix ing. Of course other automation processes may be carried out instead of the filling and/or mixing process.

In Figure 9 advantages of an improved automation system AS are described. As can be seen a plurality of steps is neces sary to set up production of an automation system AS. In a first step the requirements for the production are determined by way of planning and system engineering. Subsequently the requirements are translated in a mechanical concept compris ing the hardware necessary to perform the production. The de tailed concept may be influenced by the requirements deter mined and the specific properties of the automation compo nents and/or the substance, in particular a fluid, that is processed. As can be seen the automation component (s) may comprise software and/or hardware. The choice of these compo nents may have an effect on the mechanical concept. The same applies to the substance/fluid to be processed. Following the detailed engineering the commissioning of the automation system has to be performed. The commissioning may comprise setting a set of control parameters and/or control instructions (e.g. derived from the set of control parame ters) . For the commissioning different control parameter val ues may be set in order to perform production. As is evident, a certain set of control parameters may lead to more effi cient production than another set of control parameters. In order to determine an optimized set of control parameters use can be made of the method steps described herein, i.e. by way of virtual commissioning , that is to say by simulation of the automation component ( s ) , e.g. the machines of the automa tion system. The virtual commissioning may be performed fast er than a commissioning performed by trial and error on the actual machines. Thus the utilization of a simulation compo nent, comprising one or more virtual models of the automation system may save time when setting up the automation system.

The suggested method (s) and system (s) may assist in rendering the production of respective product, may it be the filling of the container and/or the mixing of the substance in a con tainer quicker, qualitatively better and more flexible. This may be achieved by linking and directly applying the re sult (s) of the simulation to the automation system for manu facturing said products.

The filling and/or the mixing, or other automation process, may be controlled by an automation component, such as an au tomation controller (PLC) , and/or drives and/or electric mo tors which may be comprised by the automation component. In addition, the automation component may comprise switch gears and electrolysis inverters. The automation component may com prise a PLC Simatic S7-1500 of Siemens Aktiengesellschaft or a cluster of automation controllers. For the above-mentioned scenarios the control parameters may be imported into the controller for the drives and actuators that perform filling and/or mixing, and control the complete process. This implies that data from the simulation component and determination steps may be transmitted to the automation component which may then make use of those one or more parameters and/or transforms one or more of those control parameters into con trol set points for the drive component or drive system. For example different container types, such as different bottles or tanks, may produce different optimal mixing and/or filling scenarios. Taking into account the actual control parameters of the process which are present in the automation component, e.g. a controller and/or a sensor, as well the simulation re sult (s) with the control parameters determined, by way of simulation, may be used to change and/or adapt the parameters during the filling and/or mixing process.

After the simulation and determination steps have been per formed by the simulation component, which may be part of a first device, e.g. a computer, and it is particularly advan tageous to link the simulation component with the automation component, which may be part of a second device, through a communication system, e.g. point-to-point, a bus system, Ethernet, etc. The simulation component may as well be inte grated in the automation component (or the other way around) . Integration may be implemented by a (software) interface (be tween the automation component and the simulation component) . The communication system may for example be wireless or wired .

Among the advantages of the suggested method and system is that a customer, e.g. an operator of a manufacturing facili ty, comprising container filling and/or mixing, for manufac turing products, may obtain all automation and simulation products out of one hand. The suggested integrated solution has a lot of benefits compared to a competitive solution where a customer would have multiple different suppliers in stead of one, e.g. the responsibility for the complete in stallation is in one hand. Furthermore, the technical stabil ity may more easily be guaranteed between the different prod ucts which are configured to cooperate and communicate seam lessly and compatibly. This may ensure an error-free connec- tion of simulation results and car in process identity. Opti mizing scenarios combined with automation will lead to better quality, e.g. consume less time and reduce costs, to a faster filling and/or mixing process which increases the through put and the revenues.

It should also be appreciated that, by way of example, the one or more set, i.e. pre-defined, conditions include at least one of minimum requirements such as a filling time, a maximum time duration, a mixing status, a mixing time and/or mixing power requirement or any combination thereof. Of course outer conditions may be set such as e.g. a allowed simulation runtime.

By way of example, a certain prioritization may be applied so that, e.g. the minimum requirements of the resulting filling and/or mixing process must be fulfilled for the selection of a simulated process. Then, if several sets of parameters ful fill this condition, some of these sets may still be dis missed if the maximum power requirement is exceeded. If at least two sets fulfill these two conditions, one can apply that control parameters may only be used if they do not ex ceed a maximum time duration. By way of example, if several sets of parameters determined fulfill one or more of the men tioned requirements, the one that has the shortest time dura tion for the filling and/or mixing may be chosen as the set of parameters to be applied, i.e. used as the actual parame ters for controlling the filling and/or mixing.

In example embodiments, the method may further comprise through operation of the at least one processor determining a set of control parameters using the following input parame ters: properties of the respective container, properties of the fluid and/or substance, and properties of automation com ponent .

Using these input parameters, the simulation is enabled to give meaningful output with respect to the resulting filling and/or mixing, in particular the time duration required for the filling and/or mixing.

In order to refine the results of the simulation, additional input parameters may be included, such as, certain restraints of the respective automation component. Such restraints of the respective automation components may involve e.g. maxima of velocity, acceleration, tilting angle, tilt angular veloc ity and/or tilt angular acceleration, for example of a drive controlling a nozzle for filling and/or a drive for control ling the mixer/stirrer of the mixing process. Furthermore, depending on the specific application case further input pa rameters may be taken into account.

In further examples, the properties of the respective con tainer, in particular in the case of the filling process, may comprise at least one of geometry, dimensions, material, stiffness, surface structure, temperature, electric poten tial, electric conductivity, or any combination thereof.

The properties of the respective container influence the pro cess of filling the container and are thus taken into account for the simulation of the filling. Depending on the specific application, some of the mentioned properties may play an im portant role or may be neglected. In particular for simulat ing the geometry, the dimensions, the material, the stiffness and the surface structure may be important parameters of the container which should be used as input parameters. Further more, for simulating the geometry, the material, the surface structure, e.g. the plainness of the surface and the tempera ture may constitute relevant parameters of the container.

By way of example, the properties of the fluid and/or the substance may comprise at least one of material, density, temperature, viscosity, surface tension, electric potential, electric conductivity, or any combination thereof. In general, the substance (as described in connection with the mixing process) may correspond to the fluid (as described in connection with the filling process) or may comprise the fluid .

Also, the properties of the fluid and/or the substance influ ence the process of filling and/or of mixing and may thus be taken into account for the simulation of the filling and/or mixing. Depending on the specific application, some of the mentioned properties may play an important role or may be ne glected .

It should also be appreciated that, by way of example, the properties of the container may comprise at least one of ge ometry, dimensions, filling height of the fluid and/or the substance, information related to generated volumetric flow rate of the fluid or substance, information related to heat ing or cooling, electric potential, electric power, or any combination thereof.

The properties of the container may constitute relevant boundary conditions such as the geometry, the dimensions of the container and the filling height of the fluid and/or the substance. For some specific applications, additional fea tures of the container may play a relevant role, such as a generated volumetric flow rate of the substance and/or the fluid, whereby its spatial distribution within the container may be of interest. Furthermore, properties of the fluid and/or the substance, the container and or the automation component may take into account changes of the mentioned pa rameters with elapsing time.

In further example embodiments, at least some of the proper ties of the respective container, the fluid and/or the sub stance, and/or the automation component may be provided to the at least one processor using at least one of a product lifecycle management (PLM) system, an engineering system, a manufacturing operation management (MOM) system, at least one sensor for sensing at least some of the properties, or any combination thereof. In these example embodiments the system may further comprise at least one of a PLM system, an engi neering system, a MOM system, at the at least one sensor, or any combination thereof, whereby the at least one sensor is configured to send at least some of the properties of the re spective container, fluid/substance and/or the automation component .

For example, at least some of the properties of the respec tive body may be provided to the at least one processor by a connected PLM system which includes information related to the respective container's geometry, dimensions, material and/or surface structure. The PLM system may provide this in formation e.g. in form of CAD data and/or a digital twin of the respective container. At least some of the properties of the fluid and/or substance may be provided by a connected PLM system or a connected MOM system which may include infor mation related to the material, density, viscosity, carboni zation and/or surface tension of the fluid and/or the sub stance. The MOM system may provide at least some of the prop erties of the fluid and/or the substance, e.g. temperature and/or electric potential, or at least some of the properties of the automation component which are described above.

Furthermore, the at least one sensor may provide at least one of properties of the respective container, e.g. the surface structure, temperature, electric potential, properties of fluid or substance,, e.g. temperature, viscosity, electric potential, properties of the dipping bath, e.g. electric po tential, carbonization or any combination thereof. The at least one sensor may be connected to the at least one proces sor for transmission of information.

Additional information may be provided to the at least one processor including sequence information about a sequence of container and/or fluid to be filled at least partially by way of the automation component. This sequence information may be provided to the at least one processor by a MOM system and may comprise information about a first container and a subse quent second container and optionally about further contain ers. This sequence information consequently allows for taking into account the above-described more complex interaction processes - in particular if the container geometry and/or the fluid to be filled into the container changes.

In further examples, the method may further comprise through operation of the at least one processor performing at least the steps of determining a set of control parameters (based on simulating filling of the container at least partially with the fluid by way of the automation component) and caus ing the at least one automation component to at least par tially fill the container according to at least one of the control parameters of the set of control parameters deter mined on-line and/or in real-time.

Similarly, In further examples, the method may further com prise through operation of the at least one processor per forming at least the steps of determining a set of control parameters (based on simulating mixing of the at least one substance by way of the automation component) and causing the at least one automation component to mix the at least one substance in the container according to at least one of the control parameters of the set of control parameters deter mined online and/or in real-time.

Carrying out the mentioned steps on-line or in real-time ren ders the manufacturing process of the respective product, by filling a container and/or mixing a substance, very flexible and at the same time ensures optimal results with respect to the achieved filling process, e.g. filling level, and/or mix ing process, e.g. degree of mixing, optionally the required time duration and/or optionally other involved properties mentioned above. To this end, corresponding steps of deter mining at least one set of control parameters are carried out in parallel to or immediately before causing the respective automation component to at least partially fill the container and/or to mix the at least one substance in the container. This realization of the suggested method and system is par ticularly interesting for the above-described sequence of containers or when some of the boundary conditions of the filling and/or mixing process are subject to change, e.g. the geometry of the container and/or the properties of the fluid and/or the substance.

In particular for the sequence of containers and for changing types of containers, other approaches involve stopping the filling and/or mixing and testing different sets of parame ters by way of the simulation component. Of course, this is disadvantageous since the production is interrupted. Contrary to this approach, the suggested embodiment of the method and the system avoids these disadvantages by carrying out the mentioned steps on-line or in real-time. Consequently, the online and/or real-time handling of the mentioned steps can be used to update the set of control parameters when condi tions, e.g. of the fluid and/or substance, the container and/or the automation component, change.

By way of example, the respective set of control parameters may comprise at least one of position, velocity, accelera tion, tilt angle, tilt angular velocity, tilt angular accel eration, or any combination thereof. Of course, as mentioned in the above the control parameters determined by simulation, i.e. by way of the simulation component, may be processed in order to determine new parameters, e.g. by combining one or more of the control parameters determined. In the end the control parameters may correspond to the one that the automa tion component uses to control the process of filling and/or mixing .

The respective filling and/or mixing process may comprise the mentioned control parameters at least for the time duration of the filling and/or mixing respectively, i.e. when the re spective container is filled with the fluid or the substance is mixed in the container. Here, the tilt angle, the tilt an gular velocity and the tilt angular acceleration may refer to any spatial angle, e.g. in x-, y- or z-direction or any com bination thereof. Thus for example a container and/or filling nozzle may be tilted with respect to each other. The contain er and/or the filling nozzle may for example be rotated at the start, the end or during the filling process, e.g. from a first to a second position. Further parameters may be taken into account, e.g. the rate of change of acceleration, or the tilt angular jerk.

It should also be appreciated that, by way of example, the method may further comprise through operation of the at least one processor determining control parameters to control the respective automation component such that it fills the con tainer and/or it mixes the substance. This implies that the control parameters may be translated into control instruc tions for the respective one or more automation components.

Of course the control parameters output by the simulation component may already correspond to the control instruction. By carrying out these control instructions, the respective automation component, such as a drive, which for example con trol operation of a conveyor belt or a mixing element, ap plies appropriate forces and/or torques on the respective conveyor belt, nozzle, fluid, substance and/or container so that the process of filling and/or mixing is performed. The mentioned further control parameters may, by way of example, comprise the geometry and the dimensions of the container and the density and the viscosity of the fluid and/or substance since a change of these parameters may require larger or smaller forces and/or torques for one and the same first tra jectory. The determined control instructions may then be sent or applied to the respective automation component, such as one or more drives, in order to carry out corresponding ac tions .

In yet further example embodiments, the method may further comprise through operation of the at least one processor per- forming at least the steps of determining a first set of con trol parameters and subsequently determining a second set of control parameters. Thus in case an update of the properties of the container, the fluid and/or the automation component is available, an updated set of control parameters based on simulating filling of the container at least partially with the fluid based on the one or more updated properties of the container, the fluid and/or the automation component, is pro vided. Subsequently by way of operation of the at least one processor the at least one automation component is caused to at least partially fill the container according to at least one of the control parameters of the updated set of control parameters determined. This may also apply to the process of mixing one or more substance in a container, i.e. when the container, the substance and/or one or more automation compo nents are updated. This is an example of the above-mentioned, more complex interaction processes. Consequently, this aspect of the invention may also be applied to a sequence of a first container and/or fluid and a second container and/or fluid and optionally further containers and/or fluid for which the mentioned steps are carried out, respectively. Here, the term "seamlessly" shall mean that the second container and/or flu id follows the first body without undue delay or waiting time so that a continuous and fluent manufacture and movement of the sequence of containers may be ensured. A waiting time be ing larger than e.g. 150 % of a minimal waiting time may be considered an undue delay.

The seamless movement of the containers and/or automation component, such as a filling nozzle or a mixer/stirrer, may, by way of example, be achieved by carrying out the steps of determining a respective set of control parameters. The re spective determined first and/or second set of control param eters may then be stored in the at least one memory, i.e. a storage. Later, when the respective manufacturing scenario, e.g. an update of the properties, occurs, the determined cor responding first set of parameters may be loaded by the at least one processor from the at least one memory and the at least one processor causes the respective automation compo nent to act accordingly, i.e. to at least partially fill the container and/or mix the substance in the container. An up date of the automation component may for example comprise up grading the software, e.g. firmware of the automation compo nent, adding additional functions implemented in software to the automation component and/or replacing one or more hard ware parts of the automation component, e.g. replacing a cer tain impeller geometry with another impeller geometry, and/or completely replacing an automation component with another au tomation component having different properties.

Another way to ensure a seamless movement of the two contain ers may, e.g., be achieved by performing at least the steps of determining a set of control parameters and causing the at least one automation component fill the container and/or mix the substance on-line and/or in real-time.

The mentioned seamless movement is in particular of interest if the sequence of updates comprises container of different types and/or fluids and/or substances of different types. However, an update of an automation component may also im prove functionality of the component and may thus be taken into account when optimizing the filling and/or mixing pro cess.

The method steps as described in the above relating to the filling process are also illustrated in Figure 10 to 15.

Hence in a step SI a set of control parameters based on simu lating filling of the container at least partially with the fluid by way of the automation component is determined. Sub sequently in a step S2 the at least one automation component may be caused to at least partially fill the container ac cording to at least one of the control parameters of the set of control parameters determined. It should be understood that the steps SI and S2 can be repeated, e.g. starting with step SI. In a step S3 one or more properties of the container from a virtual model of the container comprising the properties of the container may be retrieved, e.g. from a central storage or from the automation component. In a step S4 one or more properties of the fluid from a virtual model of the fluid comprising the properties of the fluid may be retrieved, e.g. from a central storage or from the automation component. In a step S5 one or more properties of the automation component may be retrieved from a virtual model of the automation com ponent. It should be understood that the sequence of steps S3, S4 and S5 may be varied. It should also be understood that the properties may be retrieved by measurement performed by the automation component and/or may be historic data pre viously stored in a memory, such as the central storage.

It should be understood that the steps S3, S4 and S5 may be combined with steps SI and S2.

In a step S6 an updated set of control parameters based on simulating filling of the container may be determined, e.g. if the container, that is to say the containers properties, the automation component, that is to say the automation com ponents properties, e.g. due to a software and/or hardware update, and/or the fluid, that is to say the fluids proper ties, changes.

Subsequently in a step S7 the at least one automation compo nent may be caused to at least partially fill the container according to at least one of the control parameters of the updated set of control parameters determined. It should be understood that steps S6 and S7 may be repeated, in particu lar in combination with any one of the steps S3, S4 and S5.

In a step S8 the set of control parameters determined (by the simulation component) may be stored in a memory, e.g. the central storage. In a subsequent step S9 the set of control parameters determined may be transmitted to the automation component, preferably via a communication channel between the simulation component and the automation component. It should be understood that the automation component itself may check for updated regarding one or more control parameters, that is to say a set of updated control parameters. Step S8 and/or S9 may thus be repeated, e.g. in a periodic or event based man ner .

In a step slO the current set of control parameters may be transmitted from the automation component to the simulation component via a communication channel between the automation component and the simulation component. Thereby the set of control parameters currently in use by the automation compo nent may form the basis, i.e. the starting point, of an opti mization process. Simulation is thus started based on the current control parameters in use. As has been described in depth in the above control parameters may correspond to the properties of the automation component itself, the properties if the fluid and/or the properties of the container.

In a step Sll the simulation may be initiated based on the current set of parameters used by the automation component for filling the container with the fluid. Hence a defined starting point may be provided for starting the simulation.

In a step S12 a set of parameters for filling a specific con tainer with a specific fluid is received by the simulation component from the automation component and/or from a central storage, in which central storage a plurality of set of pa rameters are stored. Thereby, the container, fluid and/or au tomation component currently in use by the automation system may be used by the simulation component as this information is for the most of the time present in the automation system only. For example, if an operator of an automation component or automation system adjusts the settings of the automation component and/or of the automation system, e.g. by changing one or more control parameters, the resulting control parame ters may be received by the simulation component. Subsequently in a step S13 the simulation based on the spe cific set of parameters may be initiated. That is to say, the simulation is performed by the simulation component. It should be understood that the steps S12 and S13 may be re peated as well.

In Figure 16 to 19 method steps as described in the above re lating to the mixing process are also illustrated.

In a first step S14 a set of control parameters based on sim ulating mixing of the at least one substance by way of the automation component may be determined. Subsequently in a step S15 the at least one automation component may be caused to mix the at least one substance in the container according to at least one of the control parameters of the set of con trol parameters determined. It should be understood that steps S14 and S15 may be repeated. It should also be clear that the simulation may take into account one or more proper ties of the container, the automation component and/or the one or more substances -a described in the above- for example by way of a virtual model of the container, the fluid and/or the one or more automation components.

In a step S16 at least one of a mixing status, a mixing time and/or mixing power requirement may be set. Of course other conditions may be set in order to abort simulation and obtain a set of control parameters from the simulation component. Of course one or more control parameters may be retrieved before abortion of the simulation, i.e. during runtime of the simu lation. Thus, in a step S17 simulating the mixing may be stopped when according to the simulation the set mixing sta tus, the set mixing time and/or the mixing power requirement is reached.

For step SS18, S19 and S20 in Figure 18 reference is made to steps S3, S4 and S5 of Figure 11 and the corresponding de scription . As with the filling process now with regard to the mixing process the set of control parameters determined to the auto mation component may be transmitted, e.g. to the automation component, in a step S21. In a subsequent step S22 the opera tion of the at least one automation component may be adapted to mix the at least one substance in the container according to at least one of the control parameters of the set of con trol parameters determined.

Furthermore, for example the steps S8 and/or S9 of Figure 13 may also be performed in connection with the method of mixing a substance. That is to say, the set of control parameters determined may be stored in a memory, for example the central storage. In a subsequent the set of control parameters deter mined may be transmitted to the automation component, prefer ably via a communication channel between the simulation com ponent and the automation component. It should be understood that the only a subset of the control parameters determined may be stored in said memory and/or transmitted to the auto mation component.

Now turning to Figure 20, a simulation component SC is shown. The simulation component may comprise a memory and a proces sor. The memory may comprise one or more modules. For example a module Ml may serve for determining a set of control param eters. A module M2 may serve for causing the at least one au tomation component to perform an action according to at least one of the control parameters of the set of control parame ters determined. This may encompass transmitting one or more messages to the automation component. A module M3 of the sim ulation component may serve for transmitting the set of con trol parameters determined to the automation component.

Thus, one or more modules of the simulation component may be combined to form a single module. Of course, further modules may exist that implement the func tions of any one of the method steps as presented in Figures 10 to 19.

It should be understood that the action as described in mod ule M2 may be either filling of a container or mixing of a substance in a container but that also other automation tasks may be performed.

Now turning to Figure 21, an automation component is shown. The automation component may also comprise a memory and a processor. This may be a memory and/or processor separate from the memory and/or processor of the simulation component or may be the same memory and/or processor. That is to say only one memory and/or processor may be present in order to carry out the functions of the simulation component and the automation component.

The memory of the automation component may comprise a module N1 for causing the at least one automation component to per form an action according to at least one of the control pa rameters of the set of control parameters determined. The memory may further comprise a module N2 for controlling oper ation of an automation system. The automation system may cor respond to the automation component but may also comprise more than one automation component. Furthermore, the automa tion component may comprise a module N3 for transmitting the current set of control parameters from the automation compo nent to the simulation component.

One or more modules of the automation component may be com bined to form a single module.

Of course, further modules may exist that implement the func tions of any one of the method steps as presented in Figures 10 to 19. It should also be understood that the action as described in module N1 may be either filling of a container or mixing of a substance in a container but that also other automation tasks may be performed.

Another example may include a product or apparatus including at least one hardware, software, and/or firmware based pro cessor, computer, component, controller, means, module, and/or unit configured for carrying out functionality corre sponding to this described method.

It should be appreciated that the simulation can be carried out on a first device, e.g. a computer or a cluster of com puters or processors, whereas the control of the respective drive component is carried out by second device, e.g. an au tomation controller, for example like the PLC Simatic S7-1500 of Siemens Aktiengesellschaft, or a cluster of automation controllers .

Further, the term "component" means any device, system or part thereof that controls at least one operation, whether such a device is implemented in hardware, firmware, software or some combination of at least two of the same. It should be noted that the functionality associated with any particular controller may be centralized or distributed, whether locally or remotely.

Those of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that the hardware depicted for the simulation component and/or the au tomation component may vary for particular implementations. For example, a computer, workstation, server, PC, notebook computer, tablet, mobile phone, and/or any other type of ap paratus/system that is operative to process data and carry out functionality and features described herein associated with the operation of a data processing system, computer, processor, and/or a controller discussed herein may be used. The depicted example is provided for the purpose of explana- tion only and is not meant to imply architectural limitations with respect to the present disclosure.

Also, it should be noted that the processor described herein may be located in a server that is remote from process plant. In such an example, the described embodiments a client device that communicates with the server (and/or a virtual machine executing on the server) through a wired or wireless network (which may include the Internet) may be provided. In some em bodiments, such a client device, for example, may execute a remote desktop application or may correspond to a portal de vice that carries out a remote desktop protocol with the server in order to send inputs from an input device to the server and receive information from the server. Examples of such remote desktop protocols include Teradici ' s PCoIP, Mi crosoft's RDP, and the RFB protocol. In such examples, the processor described herein may correspond to a virtual pro cessor of a virtual machine executing in a physical processor of the server.

As used herein, the terms "component" and "system" are in tended to encompass hardware, software, or a combination of hardware and software. Thus, for example, a system or compo nent may be a process, a process executing on a processor, or a processor. Additionally, a component or system may be lo calized on a single device or distributed across several de vices.

Also, as used herein a processor corresponds to any electron ic device that is configured via hardware circuits, software, and/or firmware to process data. For example, processors de scribed herein may correspond to one or more (or a combina tion) of a microprocessor, CPU, FPGA, ASIC, or any other in tegrated circuit (IC) or other type of circuit that is capa ble of processing data in a data processing system, which may have the form of a controller board, computer, server, mobile phone, and/or any other type of electronic device. Also, although the terms "first", "second", "third" and so forth may be used herein to describe various elements, func tions, or acts, these elements, functions, or acts should not be limited by these terms. Rather these numeral adjectives are used to distinguish different elements, functions or acts from each other. For example, a first element, function, or act could be termed a second element, function, or act, and, similarly, a second element, function, or act could be termed a first element, function, or act, without departing from the scope of the present disclosure.

In addition, phrases such as "processor is configured to" carry out one or more functions or processes, may mean the processor is operatively configured to or operably configured to carry out the functions or processes via software, firm ware, and/or wired circuits. For example, a processor that is configured to carry out a function/process may correspond to a processor that is executing the software/firmware, which is programmed to cause the processor to carry out the func tion/process and/or may correspond to a processor that has the software/firmware in a memory or storage device that is available to be executed by the processor to carry out the function/process. It should also be noted that a processor that is "configured to" carry out one or more functions or processes, may also correspond to a processor circuit partic ularly fabricated or "wired" to carry out the functions or processes (e.g., an ASIC or FPGA design) . Further the phrase "at least one" before an element (e.g., a processor) that is configured to carry out more than one function may correspond to one or more elements (e.g., processors) that each carry out the functions and may also correspond to two or more of the elements (e.g., processors) that respectively carry out different ones of the one or more different functions.

Although an exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure has been described in detail, those skilled in the art will understand that various changes, substitutions, variations, and improvements disclosed herein may be made without depart- ing from the spirit and scope of the disclosure in its broad est form.