July 21 2015

ASRS 3D Model

Industrial Simulation – Reduces Investment Risk

Guest Blog by: Ian McGregor – President, Emulate3D, Inc.

Automation projects are conceived and designed to improve throughput, reduce or eliminate errors, raise profitability, and for many other company-specific reasons, but there is always a clear expectation of a payback within a certain time.

Industrial automation projects involve risk, and while experience has a major role to play in the reduction of risk, there are many tools available that support and enhance this, without missing out on the great ideas that often come from the less experienced. Foremost among these tools is industrial simulation, which, if used properly, is an impartial judge of whether one solution is better than another, and why.

Define Your Objectives

It’s important to determine the objectives for a particular project in order to use simulation appropriately. If there’s no precisely determined and measurable goal, there’s no way to evaluate the contribution made by the simulation.

With large-scale automation projects, the use of demonstration models represent initial ideas. These models form the center of discussions between all project stakeholders – they show the current collective thinking and reflect any changes quickly, avoiding misunderstandings about which version is being discussed and allowing informed decisions to be made. If you are considering solutions, a running 3D model is an unambiguous representation that provides you with immediate understanding of the initial proposal, and a point from which to move the project forward.

ASRS 3D Model

Putting a Price on Efficient Communication

The contribution of a model inevitably involves a number of intangibles such as time saved explaining layout and operation, providing a clear understanding of the solution, and being able to discuss modifications efficiently, but the impact a simulation can have at this crucial stage of the project is not to be underestimated.

Informed Decisions Save You Time and Money

Where decisions concerning hardware choices, buffer levels, or operational sequences are to be made, simulation performs the role of an impartial judge between contributing stakeholders. Simulation is blind to pressure, politics, enthusiasm and experience, instead relying solely on data. Data must be accurate, and the usefulness of the results is in direct proportion to the quality of the data. Unknown quantities or estimates must be recognized as potential compromises, and their impact on the reliability of model results should be carefully considered.

Simulate Only That Which Produces Benefits

Automated systems are often designed to be flexible – all the better to deal with the unknowns of future demand, and to prolong the usefulness of the investment. Whether it’s an overall throughput model, a buffer dimensioning model, or an AGV response time model, the aim should be clearly stated at the outset, and the model designed solely around the objectives.

Nonetheless, the successful use of simulation models to improve the operation of new or existing systems provides unshakeable evidence that simulation models help users make better informed decisions.

Validate Your Investment with Simulation

All forms of industrial simulation can add real value and create efficiencies when they are used correctly. Models should have a clear purpose which defines both the requirements and the limits of the model, as well as the range of experiments it is designed to carry out. A more complete understanding of the capabilities and limitations of simulation tools leads to more informed decisions and better outcomes, with the result that simulation becomes more trusted and demanded by all project stakeholders.