One of the main problems facing development teams working on instrument control systems consists on the need to
access mechanisms which are not available until well into the integration phase. The need to work with real hardware
creates additional problems like, among others: certain faults cannot be tested due to the possibility of hardware damage,
taking the system to the limit may shorten its operational lifespan and the full system may not be available during some
periods due to maintenance and/or testing of individual components.
These problems can be treated with the use of simulators and by applying software/hardware standards. Since
information on the construction and performance of electro-mechanical systems is available at relatively early stages of
the project, simulators are developed in advance (before the existence of the mechanism) or, if conventions and standards
have been correctly followed, a previously developed simulator might be used.
This article describes our experience in building software simulators and the main advantages we have identified, which
are: the control software can be developed even in the absence of real hardware, critical tests can be prepared using the
simulated systems, test system behavior for hardware failure situations that represent a risk of the real system, and the
speed up of in house integration of the entire instrument. The use of simulators allows us to reduce development, testing
and integration time.