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PLANT SIMULATION: Discrete Event Simulation of Welding Lines

Motivation

Discrete event simulation (DES) of production and logistics processes is a well-established method to support engineering throughout a variety of manufacturing industries all over Europe, today. However, the process of conducting a simulation project and conducting simulation experiments is still a very individual and rather handcraft-like activity with the software residing on rich clients at the desk of each simulation engineer. The overall process and the outcome of simulation projects are highly dependent on the skills and the experience of the involved simulation experts and planning engineers.

Goals of the experiment

The SIMCASE experiment allows engineering companies (mainly in the automotive sector but with a high potential for other industries, too) to search for improved factory layouts far more efficiently than before. This is achieved by deploying discrete-event simulation (DES) models into the cloud. The use of Cloud resources for the simulation runs significantly increases the number of evaluated configurations, ending up with better manufacturing solutions (e.g. less buffer space and less investment in buffers; better utilization of robots).

Economic and technical impact

These improved solutions directly lead to cost benefits: reduced size of required buffers and equipment result in a decrease of investment for about 4-8 percent which translates to more than 50,000 euros per manufacturing system. Costs for engineering hours are saved to an extent of 10-20 percent compared to a conventional approach by being able to share data in an easier way and by parallelizing modeling and model execution (i.e. simulation). A major benefit for the end users, specifically for engineering SMEs, is also the distributed world wide access to very costly software on a per-use part time basis.

Companies’ direct costs in software and hardware can be reduced up to 80 percent considering that a simple notebook can run the client application and allow users to input parameters for simulations to be calculated and executed at a remote HPC provider, whether the simulation is conducted as one experiment or hundreds of experiments (variant simulation – design of experiments, DoE).

For SimPlan as independent software vendor (ISV), a Cloud-based offering leads to new revenue channels not only for software but also for engineering services and also to higher market coverage. The results of the experiment did exceed SimPlans initial expectations by far: the implemented solution fits nicely with existing offerings and will lead to approximately 300,000 euros additional revenue within the next 5 years resulting in about 1.5 additional full time equivalents. It also turned out that the results are a door opener for in-depth discussions with major German automotive OEMs about them adapting the solution.

For Introsys as engineering SME, the offering leads to reduced engineering and software costs and improved offerings (engineering solutions) for their customers.

Introsys intends to provide better and innovative service to its clients. With a more cost effective work processes using Simcase Introsys can assure more quality to its clients (machine builders). This machine builders (first tier suppliers of the automotive industry) assures better production processes and products with lower costs. With Simcase Introsys maintains itself in a competitive edge relative to their competitors because they can reduce 90 percent of the software license costs for a team with 10 robot programmers. The Cloud solution also improves the software process quality in 10 percent. Addressing a customer segment defined by the Automation/Automotive/Logistic (OEM and Machine Builders) industry, in a three-year horizon INTROSYS estimates to face a market size of around 42 billion dollars, with a potential share reaching 0.05 percent and leading to incomes of 17 million euros and about 20 additional employees.

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