Education & Training
New 3D simulation tool for automation training
By Mary Del
A new educational tool — a flexible, user-configurable 3D simulation application for automation training — is now available to educators and manufacturers in Canada.
Developed by Real Games and available in Canada through Precision Training Products and Services, Factory I/O “takes the simulation environment for educational purposes to a new level,” says Bill Valedis, vice-president with Precision TPS.
The tool is designed for automation training in educational institutes (i.e., colleges, universities or high schools), but also for manufacturers who want to train their staff. The flexible industrial simulator software allows users to use built-in industrial components for inspiration to create their own systems.
“Students will be able to be involved in a realistic 3D environment that really brings gaming to a different level,” explains Valedis. “They will be able to interact with objects. They will be able to observe the behaviour of sensors and actuators, and be able to control them interactively on the screen, which has not been done before.”
Factory I/O is the next evolution of ITS PLC, an interactive training simulation system for PLCs, PACs and PC-based control systems, also developed by Real Games and available through Precision TPS. (Manufacturing AUTOMATION wrote about this tool in the January/February 2011 issue.)
What is the difference between the two applications?
“The main difference,” says Valedis, “is that ITS PLC had five fixed applications that the user was not able to configure. Once you launched an application, the movement of sensors and actuators was impossible. With Factory I/O, the user actually builds the application itself. The user selects from a library of objects, conveyors, diverters, elevators — all kinds of different devices — assembles them in the way that their process needs to be configured, to mimic as close to their manufacturing environment as possible. And once the components are all assembled together, the user selects the number of sensors, the number of actuators, and their position in a process. So complete flexibility with creating your own environment.”
The ability to create your own industrial system was one of the most requested features by ITS PLC users, according to Real Games. Now, with Factory I/O, the software works as a “sandbox,” where users can build from simple to very complex industrial systems. The application comes with more than 30 working components — from simple sensors to user-defined components. The variables that the user can control are now both binary and analog, which allows both open- and closed-loop control.
Factory I/O can be connected to other technologies through Connect I/O — an application that is able to communicate with different types of technologies (i.e., a PLC or microcontroller via TCP/IP). The application can be connected to both software and hardware and will work as a bridge between them.
Another feature of Factory I/O is that it allows users to save and share what is being created during the entire process.