MapleSim 6: Mad about Modelica

Samir Khan,
MapleSim Product Manager

With increased support for Modelica, the future of systems modelling, MapleSim™ 6 is well placed to deliver the intuitive, advanced multi-domain modelling capabilities to handle the increasing complexity of tomorrow’s engineering systems.

I’ve witnessed the evolution of MapleSim from the new kid on the simulation block back in 2008 to the established product that it is today. With the debut of version 6, it struck me that although just four years have passed since its first release, MapleSim is now regarded as a mature and consistent tool.

This doesn’t mean that the rate of change has slowed, or that the developers are resting on their laurels. Rather, MapleSim has a set of well-documented design principles, a sense of where the modelling market is headed, and a focus on what customers want. A direction, for want of a better word.

That direction is perhaps best embodied by the increased support for Modelica in MapleSim 6. Modelica is a modelling language that helps you model systems of interacting physical components. Its development was driven by engineers who needed intuitive methods of modelling complex multidomain systems like HEVs, wind turbines and more.

Modelica is the future of systems modelling, and its rapidly growing popularity in Europe, North America and Asia is evidence of this.

MapleSim provides a graphical front-end to Modelica; during the normal run of things, you don’t need to write code. You simply model at the block diagram level, and MapleSim assembles the Modelica for you behind the scenes. You can also import and export Modelica code, and automatically generate Modelica from equations written in natural maths notation.

MapleSim 6 supports more of the Modelica standard; you can import a wider range of models and third-party components. Also, you can view the Modelica of any model within MapleSim itself; you no longer need to export the Modelica to a text file.

As well as demanding better Modelica support, engineers are also challenging simulation tool vendors with demands for greater interoperability. Often, different tools have contrasting feature sets, and are used for different parts of the design process. Transferring information from one to another is a necessary but laborious process, and not one that any engineer is fond of.

Maplesoft started to address this issue in earlier versions of MapleSim with C code export and S-function generation. Now, with a new connector, MapleSim 6 supports the Functional Mockup Interface (FMI) standard for model exchange. This lets you seamlessly exchange models between many different tools (www.fmi-standard.org/tools lists other tools with support for FMI).

Due to their drive for greater efficiency, manufacturers are demanding the vendors of their automation equipment help optimise their production processes. These production processes are very expensive, and could involve the welding robots in a car factory or the machines that squirt jam into doughnuts.
Their operating conditions are often determined by heuristics or subjective experience; this leaves a lot of room for optimisation and greater efficiency.

This is why the largest European manufacturer of automation equipment, B&R, asked Maplesoft to be their modelling partner. You can now develop optimised models of automation equipment in MapleSim, and export the simulation to B&R Automation Studio for real-time testing and connectivity.

A new Hydraulics Library extends the existing hydraulics support in MapleSim with over 200 new components, including pumps, motors, sensors and more.
The library helps engineers model the power hydraulics in machines, automatic transmissions and more.

You can now call compiled code (e.g. DLLs) from within a MapleSim model. This means you can, for example, use external controller code from MapleSim, instead of exporting the MapleSim model to another tool.

A raft of other improvements round out the feature set in version 6. These include more solver options, better access to models from Maple, improved 3D animation and faster simulation.

I started by commenting on MapleSim’s maturity. Another sign of its maturity is its predictability. By that I’m not implying that MapleSim will make you fall asleep at your desk. Rather, model development is based on consistent, intuitive design principles that are visible to the user. That is in part is due to its interface, and in part due to the elegance of Modelica-based modelling. There are no unwanted surprises, apart from the breadth of what you can model.

Downlaod our 12-page professional brochure to discover how MapleSim 6 could give your next engineering project a head-start and check out the selection of featured customer stories inside. or visit the MapleSim home page

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