In the age of Industry 4.0, it’s increasingly important to stay up to date on the latest benefits that digitalisation can offer. The first Simulation Solutions Plant Simulation user group shared examples of the impact of the digital twin on operations, drawing on learnings from the wider engineering manufacturing community from a range of industry sectors.

Amongst attendees from Jaguar Land Rover, The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, Expert Tooling and others, the team of specialist engineers from Simulation Solutions shared insights from case studies and recent projects along with tech tips for Siemens Plant Simulation software. The simulation community also had the chance to experience an enhanced perspective on their factory plants by exploring 3D models with virtual reality.

This post shares a couple of the case studies from the event, sharing a view of how Plant Simulation models have validated process design and driven continuous improvements in fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) and medical devices manufacturing.

Increasing the outputs of a heavily automated line in FMCG manufacturing

Digital twin created in Plant Simulation for a FMCG manufacturer factory line by Simulation Solutions

A digital twin of the FMCG manufacturers crispbread line – running this simulates the production process, testing optimisations with no risk

When you’re producing high volumes of biscuits and other consumer goods across 7 UK and 37 global locations, it’s vital your equipment delivers to design capacity. However, when complex dynamic systems don’t behave as predicted in static spreadsheet models, the outcome can be that machinery doesn’t perform exactly in line with forecasts.

This is where investigation through simulation comes in; using a digital twin allows for testing with no risk or extra production costs, such as the expense of turning the main oven off. With the opportunity to input bespoke coding, the enhanced accuracy and control achieved led to a the team being able to pinpoint ways to reduce production costs, as well as creating continuous improvements. Using a 3D model of the ‘as built’ line, the team could better understand its dynamic behaviour and investigate ‘offline’ how to improve performance by:

  • Verifying accuracy of equipment supplier forecasts in the line design,
  • Checking operator ergonomics and training using the 3D model in virtual reality,
  • Increasing outputs of the line by 10%, with improvements which can be rolled out to other operations,
  • Achieving a saving to cover the cost of the simulation, a digital asset that can be re-used in future investigations to drive further innovation for the business.

The Head of Projects at the manufacturer said the project “has highlighted the impact of some specific downtime issues on the whole line, which we can now deal with – and are relevant to other lines.”

Optimising robotics and human operative working in medical devices production

Digital twin of a pouring line created using Plant Simulation by Simulation Solutions

The detail of a metal casting pour line which utilises robotics and human operatives in a collaborative production process

When working with collaborative robots, it’s vital to get the robot sequencing precise – understanding exactly how the robot moves to 6 degrees of motion, confirming routes for operatives around the plant and making sure both of these factors work alongside each other. The 3D model for this precision metal casting production was used to:

  • Stress test the equipment suppliers forecasts at the project planning phase to achieve confidence in the multi-million pound investment from the business,
  • Investigate operator ergonomics and deliver training with the 3D model in virtual reality (VR) during roll out,

This business has incorporated VR into standard protocol, creating VR models for all new plant lines to take advantage of the enhanced 3D view of operations, having found it the only effective way to identify and prevent costly collisions and accessibility issues thanks to the enhanced visualisation functionality.

3D models from Plant Simulation being explored using a virtual reality headset at the Simulation Solutions user group

Some of our simulation community walking the factory line using VR. Engineers and other colleagues can experience enhanced visualisations and take insights from views which may not be available in real life. For example: perspectives from inaccessible points in the plant, such as above or underneath line of sight, as well as looking through components which have been made see through.

 

Managing Director, Robbie Birrell, said ‘It’s been great to share a case studies and learnings from projects with the simulation community across a range of different manufacturing sectors. The team have shared a flavour of how versatile Plant Simulation is, as well as bringing to life how this trusted Siemens tool can be relied upon to provide answers which inform decisions made with confidence and certainty, to ultimately create innovation.’

Simulation Solutions is a Siemens Smart Expert partner with a specialism in Plant Simulation and robotics. If you’d like to find out more about the case studies, or how using a digital twin could help your operation, get in touch at support@simsol.co.uk.