Engineering with Computers
Novel approach to establish model-based development and virtual
commissioning in practice
· Christoph Richter
· Peter Hehenberger
· Gunther Reinhart
Received: 31 October 2016 / Accepted: 29 May 2018
© Springer-Verlag London Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2018
Due to several challenges such as faster development cycles or growing customer demands, the engineering of machines
and plants is becoming increasingly complex. Methods such as model-based development and virtual commissioning (i.e.
an early commissioning of plant control by means of virtual machine models) are known in theory, academia and industry.
These methods can signiﬁcantly contribute to face time, quality and cost challenges within the development of machines
and plants. However, the application and implementation of these methods and related tools are a major task. One chal-
lenge is the integration of several models in various description languages. In addition, the usage often fails because of a
lack of willingness and knowledge. In addition, innovative methods also require new work- and data ﬂows in the respective
enterprises. Therefore, the challenge is to cope with historically grown structures. For this reason, this paper proposes an
approach to address the challenge of introducing model-based development and virtual commissioning in enterprises in the
ﬁeld of machinery and plant engineering. After presenting a novel three-step methodology to introduce these methods, the
theoretical implementation of virtual commissioning is described in detail. Afterwards, an industrial application example
with explanation of the realization of virtual commissioning is presented and critically discussed. Finally, a summary with
results and beneﬁts and an insight to future research aspects with regard to the design of cyber-physical system and related
topics is given.
Keywords Mechatronic engineering · Model-based development · Virtual commissioning
Nowadays, the machine and plant engineering is facing a
large variety of challenges including shorter innovation
cycles or an increasing demand for individual products
. This leads to the requirements of being fast in prod-
uct development and of manufacturing products with an
excellent quality . In contrast, current engineering pro-
cesses are still characterized by serial process steps ,
discipline-speciﬁc procedures  and a lack of synchroni-
zation between involved disciplines .
One common approach to address the challenges identi-
ﬁed above is digitalization, which means the introduction
of various digital technologies to support the development
process of machines or plants . Within this ﬁeld, Model-
Based Development (MBD) [7, 8] and virtual commission-
ing (VC) represent two well-known examples for possible
digitalization methods. Thereby, MBD means the alignment
of the entire development process along one central and
interdisciplinary system model .
On the other hand, VC is an interdisciplinary testing
method for the control code using a simulation model .
This allows an earlier commissioning of the respective con-
trol code especially before having a physical-constructed
machine or plant. So the VC is a method for an early detec-
tion of functionality faults in the development process.
The methods introduced in the last two paragraphs are
well-known in theory and academia. However, there exist
some implementation in simpliﬁed case studies in automated
* Peter Hehenberger
Institute of Mechatronic Design and Production, Johannes
Kepler University, Altenbergerstraße 69, 4040 Linz, Austria
Fraunhofer-Einrichtung für Gießerei-,
Composite- und Verarbeitungstechnik IGCV, Provinostraße
52, 86153 Augsburg, Germany
University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria, School
of Engineering, Stelzhamerstraße 23, 4600 Wels, Austria