Manufacturing simulation software is a multipurpose tool used by engineers to optimize the flow of production and logistics processes. With the upcoming release of Tecnomatix 12 (coming soon in late November, 2014), Siemens will deliver its new version of Plant Simulation software - and extend the benefits experienced by companies in discrete manufacturing to those in process manufacturing markets.
Manufacturing Simulation for a Wide Range of Industries
To get an idea of the versatility of manufacturing simulation, first imagine you’re in charge of manufacturing operations for a toy company, and one of your company’s products has unexpectedly become the “must have” toy for this year’s Christmas season. You had planned to produce 50,000 units and now must produce twenty times that many. And instead of one version, sales and marketing want multiple variants to appeal to different geographic regions. Can you do it with your existing facilities and equipment? If not, where are the bottlenecks? It’s vital to identify bottlenecks to know if you’ll have to ask for more machines, employees, facilities and so on. Manufacturing simulation can quickly give you those answers.
Then imagine you’re in charge of an airport’s baggage handling operations, and you’ve been told that a new airline will begin using some available terminal space within the next six months. Because of this new airline’s flight schedules, you’ll need to handle 3,000 more pieces of luggage per hour during peak times. Same questions: Can you do it within your existing space using existing equipment. If not, where are the bottlenecks? What will you need to meet the new baggage handling target?
Just about anywhere you find processes that must meet certain throughput targets, you can find a Tecnomatix customer. It’s not always the sort of situation described above – where a business must adapt a process to accommodate to an unforeseen circumstance or to capitalize on an opportunity, although these are probably the most common reasons why companies purchase manufacturing simulation software.
With Tecnomatix 12, new process objects extend support beyond typical discrete manufacturing use cases to include continuous processing of liquids as you might find in the food and beverage, pharmaceutical and chemical processing industries, to name a few. Objects such as pipes, tanks, mixers and portioning units allow you to model and parameterize fluid manufacturing processes in a direct and intuitive way, while combining discrete and continuous simulation tasks in the optimization.
The Underlying Technology: Discrete-Event Simulation
How does one solution address so many different situations? Plant Simulation in Tecnomatix is based on discrete-event simulation (defined here, if you’re interested). Users create digital models of a logistics system (which can be anything from a production process, to a baggage handling system, to even chair lift operations at a ski resort).
Once the model is ready, they simply click “Start” to watch a schematized view of the process on the screen. Problems such as a lack of materials when a station is ready, or an overflow, or collisions between components are indicated graphically and via charts.
The latest version of Plant Simulation in Tecnomatix 12 has undergone an extreme make-over, making it easy to learn and productive for both casual and expert users. The new UI uses the familiar Windows ribbon bar.
The latest version of Plant Simulation in Tecnomatix 12 now offers dedicated objects for fluid processing and allows users to combine discrete and continuous simulation tasks.
Plant Simulation provides the ability to analyze and optimize energy consumption in complex dynamic production environments (available in the current Plant Simulation version 11). Energy Analyzer, patent pending: U.S. Patent App’l Pub. No. 2013/001863.
Solving Common Manufacturing Challenges
For companies with problems meeting throughput targets, manufacturing simulation is invaluable in revealing where the bottlenecks are. We’ve had customers tell us that they’ve identified problems in their first simulation run at teams of people couldn’t find. Once problems are found, Plant Simulation allows for fast what-if simulations that let companies find the best fix.
Manufacturing simulation software is also very useful in the design of new facilities and new processes within existing facilities. What-if simulations allow for the optimization of things like energy consumption, equipment purchases, and floor space before construction begins.
Real World Cost-Savings
I wouldn’t want to end this without mentioning something you’ve probably already figured out -- the cost-saving potential of manufacturing simulation is huge. Here’s a very simple, real-world example of how the software saved an Indian automaker $1 million in machinery costs in just one area of its manufacturing plant.
Our customer, Eicher Engineering solutions, was asked to advise an Indian automaker that was building a new facility to meet a mandated production increase. The automaker’s internal calculations had determined that the facility would need 19 stamping machines, at a cost of about $250,000 each, to achieve the target capacity.
Using Plant Simulation, Eicher determined that 14 machines would be sufficient. “At first they didn’t believe us but eventually we were able to convince them of the accuracy of our calculations,” said Sachin Sanghi, head of digital manufacturing solutions at Eicher. “They decided to purchase 15 machines (an extra one to have on a contingency basis). Our work with Plant Simulation saved that company $1 million.”
A highly versatile solution with a huge potential pay-off – that’s Tecnomatix Plant Simulation.