Web-based simulation for engineering, sales and marketing

How are individual apps for the simulation of technical processes developed? What additional value can simulation with an online tool offer in the fields of engineering, sales and technical marketing? We show you which steps are necessary to transfer complex models into an intuitive app.

Pascal Padberg

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December 4, 2020

unbekannt

Model development with expert software

At TLK Energy, we develop models of complex thermodynamic and energy technology systems with our customers using expert software. These models are created to better understand the dynamic behaviour of these systems, to improve their efficiency or even to develop completely new system topologies.

For the development of such models a constant exchange between us and our customers about the status of the model and simulation results achieved so far is very important. We learn from the practical experience in the company and thus define the requirements for the simulation model.

In this exchange we used to miss an important component: Our customers could not simply carry out simulations themselves with the current status of the model! But this is exactly what is useful for feedback on model development and internal discussion! The development and maintenance of simulation models takes a lot of time and expert knowledge, since we usually work with complex software. The complicated operation leads to the fact that the use is limited to a small circle of experts. Even after completion of a model, the provision of models to other development teams, the sales department or even own customers is not so easy. But especially for the exchange with our customers and within the company itself, a quick and easy provision of the model in a user-friendly environment is of great benefit and in some cases even necessary.

From expert software to simulation in the browser – Bring Simulation into Web!

With sim.TLK we have developed just such a user-friendly environment! Models based on the FMI standard can be quickly made available to all participants in adapted web tools. An exchange is now very easy. Just log in and simulate! Whether tablet or laptop is not important. No installation of software and no problems with updates!

Based on our experience we are convinced of the potential of dynamic web apps for simulation applications! The apps can be created by us in every customer project and subsequently managed and adapted by the customer himself. They are designed to provide meaningful, visual feedback during parameter entry, so that even complicated and non-intuitive physical parameters are understandable. Following a successful simulation, the data is clearly presented in interactive graphics, making the results easy to interpret. Thus, the app can also be used for products requiring explanation in technical sales.

From complex models via FMI to graphical evaluation

With sim.TLK you can go in 3 steps from a complex model to a user-friendly simulation app:

  1. create and upload an FMU of the model
  2. configuration of a user interface for the parameterisation of the simulation
  3. configuration of a user interface for the evaluation of results

1. Creating and uploading an FMU of the model

The output for the app is a simulation capable model. The model is exported as FMU (Functional Mock-Up Unit) and uploaded to sim.TLK. The FMU is based on the FMI standard and consists of an XML file describing, among other things, the model structure and the model equations as C code. The export as FMU allows to reuse simulation models in other programs. By providing the model structure including all information about available parameters, inputs and outputs, an intuitive user interface can be created directly by drag and drop.

2. Configuration of a user interface for the parameterisation of the simulation

First of all, the relevant parameters are defined with which settings can be made on the model. In addition, the way the parameters are displayed is implemented in the app, so that even physical parameters that are difficult to understand are clearly displayed and their valid value range is restricted. For example, interactive graphics can be integrated. Here, the example shows annual weather data of different cities and years.

3. Configuration of a user interface for the evaluation of results:

In the third step the visualisation of the simulation results can also be adapted to the respective requirements. For this purpose, a selection of interactive graphics is available, which display the simulation results in a temporally resolved or categorised manner. Phase diagrams are also available in which thermodynamic cycles can be dynamically visualised. Now nothing stands in the way of a first simulation! The data is then prepared and made available in a clear and concise manner. Simulation results can even be compared directly and exported in full. The results of the annual simulation of a heat pump are shown here. Using the time-resolved COP, all points in time can be controlled and phase diagrams or temperature curves in heat exchangers can be analysed.

Interactive graphics - Apps as an alternative to Excel

All programmes have their strengths and weaknesses. When providing models via clearly defined apps, in contrast to complex desktop simulation software, not all setting options are available and the direct insight into the model structure is lost. Analysis tools such as Excel are not directly available in our apps. With the export of results in pdf-reports or as Excel-file we therefore enable an individual further processing of the data. For many, however, a quick classification of simulation results in predefined interactive graphics is of central importance. Here we offer an alternative to Excel. A web tool can also be used to process large amounts of data in the background.

Simulation Apps Examples: Heat pump simulation and air quality

Our heat pump design demonstrators show what such a simulation app can do. This includes the model for the icing of evaporators in heat pumps, which we presented in our first Blogpost! Everyone can test these applications free of charge at: https://sim.tlk-energy.de/

You can also find more information about our specialised web tools at https://apps.tlk-energy.de/
The online tool Aerosim can be used to simulate air quality, for example.

Simulation for everyone!

Web tools can be used in various areas. Not only for illustrating and calculating system behaviour in the fields of thermodynamics, energy and process technology, but also as learning material or as a marketing tool. They can significantly simplify the communication of a technical benefit in the field of complex systems. Furthermore, they allow easy access to complex models for all project participants. With sim.TLK, simulation becomes accessible to everyone, a democratisation of simulation so to speak.😉

If you want to provide your own model via sim.TLK, please contact us.

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M.Sc.

Pascal Padberg

Frontend Development & Process Engineering

TLK Energy

Pascal Padberg studied process engineering at the RWTH Aachen University. He has been working at TLK Energy since 2017 and has built up the model library PSL for the simulation of process engineering processes. He is also involved in the development and implementation of web tools for the simple simulation of technical systems via web browser.

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