Following the Industry 4.0 paradigm with the rise of smart factories, there is a growing need in exploring digital manufacturing tools compatible with Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) functionalities. This paper discusses the concept of Virtual Commissioning (VC) including applications in present and near-future advanced automation and production. Specifically, global trends towards Industry 4.0 and virtual manufacturing processes are explored in addition to how and why these emerging technologies could be applied. Furthermore, the advantages of VC processes are contrasted to Traditional Physical Commissioning (TPC) to highlight the evolution of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software and the optimization of manufacturing processes since the turn of the century. This research aims to use state-of-the-art PLM software to replicate a physical prototype in near-perfect functionality to demonstrate the effectiveness of VC in an industrial setting. Developing a methodology for this research, the analysis is followed by a case study involving a Mini Festo Pick-and-Place (P&P) unit simulated in Siemens Tecnomatix Process Simulate and controlled via ladder logic executed in Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) Portal. As expected, the results of this case study validate the potential for optimized contemporary manufacturing solutions in which higher-quality goods are reliably produced with minimal delays at all-time low principal investments through the use of VC tools.

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