It’s certainly not correct to say that setting up a factory or changing an industrial production line is getting simpler. But with advanced simulation tools, the task of creating a complex manufacturing line is not as difficult as it might otherwise be.
That’s because simulation tools have become far more capable, giving system designers a way to see how various aspects will work together. At the recent Robots & Vision show, many vendors displayed simulation tools that provide a way to see how various pieces of equipment will work and interact.
Even a year ago, complex simulations of many different pieces of equipment wouldn’t have been possible. But PCs have advanced significantly, and programmers have taken advantage of the additional power.
That gives factory managers a chance to test different steps, altering sequences and making tweaks to see if they can improve efficiency. The growth of factory floor simulation should provide big improvements in the push to lean manufacturing, making it easier to change production lines for new components without substantial down time for setup and debugging.
For engineers and managers, the time spent to learn how to run these simulation tools will be well spent. Though it’s certainly work to do this, the high resolution of images gives the simulations the feel of computer games. It’s doubtful that many managers are going to spend lunch breaks running these simulations for fun, but the game-like appearance makes it a bit easier to work on them.
Simulation has proven effective in many fields. It’s great to see that the products designed with simulation will now benefit from being manufactured with simulation.