Dematic NV develops PLC code generator with Experior

Dematic NV develops PLC code generator with Experior

In the Belgian subsidiary of Dematic, they use Experior for PLC programming and to test entire systems. To ease the process, they have developed a PLC code generator that automatically generates PLC code based on previously developed and tested code blocks.

PLC programming is a delicate and tedious task. It requires a lot of time to write PLC code and then extensively test and rewrite the code. For years, Dematic NV manually wrote and tested their PLC code using Experior, but now they are able to automatically generate the PLC code with a code generator tool consisting of code blocks developed and tested with Experior.

“When we started using Experior years ago, we wrote and tested all the PLC code manually, leaving a lot of room for error and thus making the tests in Experior extremely important before going onsite,” Patrick Stuer explains. He is Internal Support Engineer at Dematic NV, the Belgium subsidiary of the leading global supplier of integrated automated technology and software, Dematic.

Code generator eliminates mistakes and frees up time

To ease the programming process, Patrick Stuer and Dematic NV developed an automatic PLC code generator. The generator consists of a set of thoroughly tested rules defining every module type in their automation systems.

To generate PLC code for a new automation system, you will simply have to specify the different modules involved in the specific system and the code generator will automatically put together the code. As the set of rules in the code generator have already been thoroughly tested in Experior, the generated PLC code will work practically every time:

“If the layout for the project is standard, the PLC code that is generated is directly usable 99 percent of the time,” Patrick Stuer says.

Dematic NV
Dematic NV is the Belgium subsidiary of Dematic. Dematic is a leading global supplier of integrated automated technology, software, and services to optimize the supply chain. Dematic employs over 6,000 skilled logistics professionals to serve its customers globally, with engineering centers and manufacturing facilities located across the globe. Dematic is now integrated under the roof of KION Group and has implemented more than 6,000 integrated systems for a customer base that includes small, medium, and large companies doing business in a variety of market sectors.

This enables Dematic NV to generate their PLC code in just a few seconds, without mistakes. The generated PLC code is then tested on an emulation model of the automation system in Experior to make sure that everything is linked up correctly, a testing process that now only takes a fraction of the time previously used for PLC testing.

“After developing the automatic PLC code generator, the amount of PLC testing dropped significantly, freeing up time to focus on developing more custom blocks of code,” Patrick Stuer explains.

Going onsite with a good feeling

This is however not the only thing Dematic NV uses Experior for. After PLC programming and testing, they test the entire installation in Experior, including mobile automation such AGVs, to make sure everything works together correctly. They also test the complicated flows of the system to prevent bottlenecks and stress test the plant’s peak performance.


Experior model used to test the PLC generator

“In Experior, we have a nice virtual environment to thoroughly test the entire functionality rather than testing onsite, where the environment is way hasher and prone to errors,” Patrick Stuer says.

As the last step before onsite commissioning, Dematic NV perform a Virtual Factory Acceptance Test (VFAT) together with the customer. Here, the whole setup is tested in Experior through different scenarios and the customer is able to validate the system or request changes even before the software is integrated with the actual hardware onsite.

“Basically, we always test everything thoroughly in Experior. This means that we have a relaxed feeling when we go onsite, where we do not have to worry about the software. We can thus focus on other issues with for instance the electronics and the machinery,” says Patrick Stuer.