Simulation offers an early view of plant effectiveness

3D modeling can create a view of an optimized plant before it goes online.

03/19/2012


As the manufacturing industry continues to regain its foothold in a ‘design anywhere, manufacture anywhere’ world, industrial engineers and plant managers need to find solutions to support the global manufacturing and new product development strategies, while keeping an eye on operational efficiencies.

Today, time allotted for any activity is shrinking at a crazy pace. More often than not, you are approached by an internal customer and asked to do something for which the deadlines are impractical and cost budgets are barely there. In this kind of a high pressure environment, mistakes and rework are anathema. Progressive companies are increasingly looking at simulation to virtually evaluate the product design, plant layout, process flow, robotics, etc.

Simulation helps address most engineering problems without taking the risk or incurring the cost of real life experimentation; thereby, ensuring that you are all set to go, while cutting down the planning time considerably.

An area where simulation is commonly used is for developing new systems or improving the current system. It is also very useful for developing logics and process rules for Industrial Automation. With multiple product variants, frequent changes are being made to factory layouts as more machinery needs to fit into tighter spaces.

At the same time, all work areas, production lines, material storage facilities, etc. should be designed to perform to the highest rate and correspondingly the shortest cycle time. When designing a plant layout, manufacturers need to take into account all these issues, and ensure that an optimized facility layout is achieved in the design phase as they build new manufacturing sites or update existing ones. Doing this in a virtual environment allows manufacturers to explore different options without disrupting their current product lines, and identifying the most optimal layout.

Moreover, the new generation simulation tools give users the flexibility of writing programs to control the simulation model. Software opened up a new arena to mimic the behavior of real systems.

Simulation can also be used to test and improve the current systems through:

  • Identification of bottle necks in the system, and events, which cause bottle necks
  • Dependency effects analysis
  • Failure mode analysis
  • ‘What If’ analysis
  • Resource capacity and distribution analysis
  • Resource utilization analysis
  • Complex system rules analysis (ASRS storage, Conveyor/P+F Merging, Buffer allocation and storage, etc.)
  • Task allocation rules analysis
  • AGV request rules analysis
  • Resource swapping effect analysis
  • Shift change analysis

Clearly the benefits from simulation are multifold; as it not only helps optimize your current factory layout processes, but also ensures that you are future-ready and have the flexibility to add new variants to your existing production lines.

One of the challenges manufacturers face for gaining the maximum advantage from plant simulations is the in-time availability of subject experts. For effective simulations, manufacturers not only need simulation software experts but also a team of cross-functional experts with the understanding of manufacturing processes, ergonomics, regulatory compliances, logistics, warehousing, etc.

Maintaining an internal team, with this depth of cross-functional knowledge for a short period of time, can be expensive, forcing manufacturers to either simulate with limited understanding or leverage third-party service providers. Third-party specialists not only understand the manufacturer’s needs, but also bring industry best practices into the manufacturer’s shop-floor, making them the best option for short-term needs.

Simulation of a plant with 3D visualization enables rich graphic review of the layout and process flows for quicker decision making, thereby allowing manufacturers to quickly deploy a new variant on an existing production line or building a future ready plant. Vivek Kotru is director of marketing at Geometric.



The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
Pipe fabrication and IIoT; 2017 Product of the Year finalists
The future of electrical safety; Four keys to RPM success; Picking the right weld fume option
A new approach to the Skills Gap; Community colleges may hold the key for manufacturing; 2017 Engineering Leaders Under 40
Control room technology innovation; Practical approaches to corrosion protection; Pipeline regulator revises quality programs
The cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Power system design for high-performance buildings; mitigating arc flash hazards
VFDs improving motion control applications; Powering automation and IIoT wirelessly; Connecting the dots
Natural gas engines; New applications for fuel cells; Large engines become more efficient; Extending boiler life

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
This digital report explains how plant engineers and subject matter experts (SME) need support for time series data and its many challenges.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me