3D simulation of complex manufacturing environments, specifically in the field of automated iron beams production plants, is characterized by a high level of computational charge that requires high performance hardware platforms and software as well as long calculation times. For this reason, up to now, the Ficep Group has applied these tools only at technical office level, where the dedicated hardware can be found, and only during the advanced design phase of the plant. Nevertheless, simulation and optimization results would be useful also in the early commercial stage and not only in Ficep premises, but also during technical meetings at customer sites. With the current computational demand of the software, it would be impossible to make these functionalities available on portable and multi-platform devices such as tablets, or light notebooks, which represent the typical equipment of product managers. Thus, the idea of this experiment is to adapt the TTS simulation and production optimization engine to run in the cloud, centralizing both the computational burden and the significant amount of plant data on high performance hardware, exposing their functionalities both through thin multi-platform client applications and through functional web services exploitable by third party software currently used to manage production orders.
Faster simulation times and a wide spread of optimization services will increase the number of “what-if” scenarios available during the design phase and improve the productivity of the plants with less work load on the technical office. The real plant will have a digital twin no longer limited in terms of calculation potential, to offer unprecedented optimization capability. Optimization means, in this context, that the “contract” (i.e. an order, made by a list of part of a given tonnage), is processed in the lowest time possible.
The cloud-based infrastructure and HPC support will improve both the management of large simulation models (a complex simulation model can be considered one describing 8 machining stations, full automatic handling system with 3 loading bays and 4 unloading bays interconnecting the machining stations with multi-path routing) and the results achievable with the optimization engine. Exposing the functionalities of the simulation engine through the cloud can increase the interoperability with third party software.
Potential benefits and impact
- Faster simulation times and a wide spread of optimization services will increase the number of “what-if- scenarios available during the design phase and improve the productivity of the plants with less work load on the technical office.
- The real plant will have a digital twin/double no longer limited in terms of calculation potential, to offer unprecedented optimization capability.
- The cloud-based infrastructure and HPC support will improve both the management of large simulation models and the results achievable with the optimization engine.
- Exposing the functionalities of the simulation engine through the cloud may increase the interoperability with third party software. A better service to the customer and enhanced plant productivity will result in consolidating the market leader position – expected increased margin per plant of 2%.
- The costs for FICEP are not expected to be reduced, but the quality of the optimization will be increased.
- TTS will enlarge its product offering. Increased profits are expected (increment in turnover 5 to 10% in every year following the end of the experiment) thanks to the improved performances and ease of access (currently simulation for FICEP accounts for 120kEuro/year. It is expected both to increase simulations for FICEP up to 10% per year and to increase, by 9%, the TTS turnover each year).
- TTS will develop new capabilities and strengthening the position as technology transfer company towards consolidated industrial realities.
Technology Transfer System, S.r.l. -TTS- (Italy), FICEP S.p.a. (Italy), Scuola Universitaria Professionale della Svizzera Italiana -SUPSI- (Switzerland)
Modelling & Simulation