Simulation helps ensure optimal operation
Pesmel has been using 3D modeling to demonstrate the functionality of its material flow systems for quite some time. Advanced simulation is now taking the process of designing complex systems to a new level.
Intelligent simulation brings the shared vision of Pesmel and the customer to life during the design process, allowing testing of complex systems and removal of possible bottlenecks before the construction phase even begins. This saves costs and speeds up the launch of full production operations.
An integral part of the design process
“Simulation should be introduced into the process as early as possible,” says Pesmel’s Eero Anttila, Product Group Manager, Storage & Logistics. “It produces valuable information that can help to tweak the sales process and make sure that the customer only invests in a system that is truly optimal.”
The simulation model uses actual data from the customer’s existing or planned production system, including the dimensions of products and the storage facilities, as well as the speed, acceleration, and capacity of transport devices. Interfaces with other systems complete the model, and repeated validation rounds ensure that the model represents a fully functional system.
Hard facts beat intuition
Test runs carried out with the completed model help to ensure that the planned system has adequate capacity and to find the best operating practices. Weeks or even months of operations can be simulated in mere minutes, broadening the perspective and revealing bottlenecks that would otherwise only emerge over longer periods of time. The model can also be adjusted to test alternative solutions, and uncertainties can be introduced into the model to establish their impact.
“Simulation provides a realistic overview of the system,” says Anttila. “It’s very important for both the customer and the designers to be able to see the system in action.” The detailed input parameters and the authentic rendition of the mill’s actual processes, complete with correct timing, produce a level of accuracy that cannot be achieved with other design tools.
In addition to the intended operation of the system, unwanted scenarios can be also simulated. Experiments can, for example, include component failures. The impact of these failures can then be analyzed, and appropriate precautions taken.
Customer involvement for maximum benefit
The model is always built in close cooperation with the customer. Each simulation process begins with a specific issue, such as the need to know whether the capacity of the system is large enough, or if the planned layout works for the facility or process. The customer provides information and understanding of the usage of the system, and the team decides on the appropriate level of detail for the model. It’s vital for the customer to be actively involved throughout the process: to gain maximum benefit, the designers and the customer work together to find the right questions as well as the best ways to answer them.