Simulink, MATLAB And The Smarter Digital Grids Of Tomorrow

MATLAB, and Simulink are software products that every developer who has made software for use in the Renewable energy and EV space is familiar with. The firm behind these products, US based Mathworks, has built a whole suite of products to support data handling and more. We caught up with R Vijayalayan, who manages the automotive industry and control design vertical application engineering teams at MathWorks India to better understand the firm and its work.

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Q. Could you give us an overview on MathWorks, its presence and experience in India so far?

R Vijayalayan MathWorks India

Mr. R Vijayalayan, Manager, Automotive industry and control design vertical application engineering teams, MathWorks India

MathWorks is the leading developer of mathematical computing software. MathWorks serves customers from over 190 countries. MATLAB(MATrix LABoratory) and Simulink are used throughout the automotive, aerospace, communications, electronics, and industrial automation industries as fundamental tools for research and development. More than 6500 colleges and universities around the world use MATLAB and Simulink for teaching and research in a broad range of engineering and science disciplines. MathWorks employs over 5000 people in 34 offices around the world.

MathWorks has been present in India for over a decade serving commercial, government, academic and Startup customers. We now have four offices in India.

Q. What are the relevant renewable energy and electric mobility examples where MathWorks’ software has been playing a role?

In the Electric Mobility space, MathWorks has been closely working with OEMs in developing electric powertrains for 2/3/4-wheleers and improving their energy efficiency through state-of-the-art BMS and Motor Control algorithm development. MATLAB & Simulink toolchain offers capabilities to develop, test, and verify components as well as system level simulations for battery powered and fuel-cell vehicles.

For successful adoption of Electric Vehicles, development of charging infrastructure and power-grid modernization (with increased penetration of renewables) is extremely important. To that end, MathWorks has been working with utility and energy companies to study what-if scenarios of smart-charging stations, AC/DC/Wireless charging, grid overloading, and microgrid set-ups that will empower future grid designs. As we tackle climate change and work on innovative technologies such as ‘Green Hydrogen’, MATLAB & Simulink would continue to play a pivotal role in accelerating their design and development. A few of our users are Ather, Lumen Freedom Wireless Charging, Plug Power Fuel Cell Development, EVLO.

Q. Could you tell us in more detail about uses of MathWorks’ solutions in renewable energy? 

Grid modernization has rapidly increased power system complexity with variable generation assets, such as wind and solar, and added new controllable systems, such as energy storage and grid-scale batteries. Engineers use Model-Based Design to develop energy management systems (EMS) that combine prediction, forecasting, and optimization techniques. Use MATLAB and Simulink to build data-driven and physics-based models; model and simulate equipment performance; design algorithms to optimally control equipment; and deploy algorithms onto embedded and enterprise systems.

For Photovoltaic Solar Power Systems, engineers use MATLAB & Simulink to build dynamic models of PV arrays, the power converters and inverter electronics, and a variety of loading conditions, including a connection to the utility grid. The overall system level simulation can be used to perform design trade-offs and to develop and test control algorithms such as maximum power point tracking (MPPT).

Globally, engineers and scientists at energy research labs, utilities and renewable energy companies use MATLAB and Simulink to innovate and develop state-of-the-art applications in the areas of grid integration, grid analytics and monitoring and control, as part of their grid modernization and digitization initiatives. For example, there is increased installation of sensors in the field, which is generating new data. Engineers are using machine learning, deep learning and physical modeling techniques in MATLAB and Simulink to analyze this data and develop predictive maintenance solutions; to predict equipment failures and estimate Remaining Useful Life (RUL) for their assets. This helps them categorize their equipment based on risk and develop replacement strategies.

Q. How much does it cost to learn and use MathWorks tools independently? 

MathWorks offers courses training courses in different formats: Self-paced, Virtual and in-person classroom and customized and onsite instruction at customers facility.

There are several courses available free for professionals and students to get stared. These courses cover the latest technology areas like Deep Learning, Predictive Maintenance, Wireless, Machine Learning, Data Analytics etc. We also have academic discounts on training courses that helps students and academicians gain access to our courses. Our Startup offering includes access to training.

We also have learning paths that represent the suggested sequence of courses based on the engineer’s area of interest. Taking courses in a recommended order can help accelerate your proficiency with MATLAB and Simulink. Learning paths aid in building a proper foundation and help you get the most out of your products. MathWorks training employs industry-accepted best practices for adult learning and technical instruction and has developed course content that facilitates a “Presentation, Practice, Test” approach to learning.

MathWorks courses are developed by a team of training engineers with exclusive product knowledge gained from working closely with product developers. They acquire significant hands-on experience by using new products months before they are released and are always current on new capabilities. Each course contains a set of learning objectives designed to help participants quickly master necessary skills. The hands-on approach allows participants to practice, apply, and evaluate their knowledge in the classroom. 

Q. Could you help us with a few use cases of how MathWorks’ tools are being used in energy organisations? 

Scientists and engineers use MathWorks’ tools for energy (load/price) forecasting, power system studies, power system equipment design, and control algorithm development.

Here are some use cases of MATLAB and Simulink:

  • Perform system feasibility and grid integration studies using prebuilt functions and apps
  • Automate control system parameter estimation to meet regulatory requirements
  • Simulate performance against grid code and ensure production goals are met
  • Perform EMT simulation and harmonic analysis to identify and mitigate power quality issues
  • Design equipment and develop control systems
  • Deploy developed code directly to real-time and embedded systems

Based on different projects with customers, we envision that the utility of the future will be smarter and digital; as data collection and exchange from the grid is growing rapidly. MathWorks provides technologies such as Machine Learning, Deep Learning, IoT and Digital Twins to leading companies and research Institutes, such as Hydro Quebec, RWE, PNNL and Sandia National Laboratories, for their digital transformation projects in areas of energy forecasting, predictive maintenance, energy management systems etc.

Q. What are your largest markets by revenues, by developers and future potential?

More than 6500 colleges and universities around the world use MATLAB and Simulink for teaching and research in a broad range of engineering and science disciplines. 2100 universities, including 85% of the global top 300 ranked universities, have unlimited access to all MathWorks products through Campus Wide Licenses.

There are Software installations at over 100,000 business, government, and university sites  with customers in over 190 countries  There are more than  5 million users of MATLAB worldwide and 3 million files downloaded from File Exchange on MATLAB Central each year. There are almost 500 third-party solutions that are built on MATLAB and Simulink and we have around 2300 MATLAB and Simulink based books in 26 languages.

Our solutions are used in industries and applications such as automotive, aerospace, energy, medical devices, communications, electronics, financial services, industrial automation and machinery, earth and ocean sciences, biotech and pharmaceutical, and software and internet.

Q. What does MathWorks do to keep itself relevant vis a vis competition? Could you tell us who your main competitors are?

MathWorks has been recognized for the second consecutive year as a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Data Science and Machine Learning Platforms. MathWorks was positioned as a 2021 Leader based on the Gartner evaluation of the company’s completeness of vision and ability to execute. We believe that being recognized as a Leader for the second straight year further validates MathWorks ability to provide a comprehensive platform for solving AI challenges. Building on our deep experience and relentless focus on providing software and services to accelerate technical innovation, MathWorks empowers engineers and scientists to build better AI datasets, integrate community AI models, rapidly iterate, and continuously test AI models in a system-wide context.

MathWorks believes in helping our customers that includes students, academicians, professionals and startups impact their work areas through our products. In addition to providing easy access to our products and resources, MathWorks participates in several industry forums and events including student competitions, Industry conferences etc. We also have our flagship event MATLAB EXPO that is happening in a virtual format in May, 2022.

MathWorks follows a twice-yearly general release schedule, with one release in the March timeframe and a second in the September timeframe. Each general release synchronizes the full MATLAB and Simulink product families, delivering new features and bug fixes for existing products and, when available, new products.

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