University of Extremadura (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2018 Proceedings
Publication year: 2018
Pages: 4241-4245
ISBN: 978-84-697-9480-7
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2018.0820
Conference name: 12th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 5-7 March, 2018
Location: Valencia, Spain
Simulation and virtualization tools to support educational activities, especially in the scientific and technical degrees, have received growing attention in last years [1, 2]. Within simulation schemes, Software in the loop (SiL) is a computational approach that consists on linking and running two software programs in order to check or verify the operation of one of them. SiL approach is commonly used in different scientific domains to perform code or model validation, and it has been also applied with educational purposes [3, 4]. Nonetheless, its application for supervision and monitoring tasks related to industrial automated environments has not been reported in literature, almost to the best of the authors’ knowledge.

Automation and supervision disciplines are treated in various courses in industrial engineering-related degrees. To this aim, students study and manage Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) and Supervisory control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems. In such a context, a SiL approach constitutes a useful tool for laboratory experiences.

This paper presents the development and educational application of a SiL system in a course dealing with automation and supervisory systems in the Degree of Electronic Engineering and Automation at the University of Extremadura during the year 2017/2018. Such a system provides a set of advantages both from the educational and organizational standpoint. Namely, students acquire skills about the design and test of supervisory systems with the software packages really used in the industrial domain. Two different simulations are integrated to implement the SiL system. On the one hand, the WinCC package is used to design a SCADA system. On the other hand, the PLCSIM program is devoted to simulate the operation of PLC according to the defined code. Their linkage is also carried out by the students. The software suite Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) Portal of the manufacturer Siemens comprises both WinCC and PLCSIM.

The main features of the SiL system are described as well as the educational considerations. The performed experience has shown a good acceptance and motivation from students so the SiL approach will be applied in further courses.

[1] R. Heradio, L. de la Torre, D. Galán, F.J. Cabrerizo, E. Herrera-Viedma, S. Dormido. Virtual and Remote Labs in Education: A Bibliometric Analysis. Computers & Education, vol. 98, pp.14–38, 2016.
[2] I. Tejado, E. Pérez, I. González, P. Merchán, A.J. Calderón, “Innovation in Engineering Education: A Review on Current Trends and Brief Bibliometric Study,” 25 Congreso Universitario de Innovación Educativa en las Enseñanzas Técnicas, 5-8 September 2017, Badajoz, Spain.
[3] C. Beyer, J. Emmerich, U. Werner, “Software in the loop — A window lifter model to guide students through the software development process.” IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON), 25-28 April 2017, Athens, Greece.
[4] S.V. Singh, K.N. Shubhanga, “Software-in-the-loop based MPPT enabled realtime solar photovoltaics simulator in FPGA platform for academic appreciation,” IEEE International Conference on Signal Processing, Informatics, Communication and Energy Systems (SPICES), 8-10 August 2017, Kollam, India.
Software in the loop, automation, supervisory systems, laboratory.