Manufacturing plant simulation produces a digital twin for the manufacturing systems on a factory floor. While no one should confuse this with a product digital twin, it should obviously use the product digital twin to plan and validate assembly and virtually commission any machines, additive manufacturing platforms or robotics involved in its manufacturing. This report focuses on manufacturing plant simulation, not product simulation.
Simulation software for manufacturing systems uses computer modeling to analyze how production might work in any given plant or situation. It can show how certain setups, equipment, or technology might impact operations for existing or planned factories and compare alternatives. A good simulation product will show how changes within work cells will affect entire lines or entire factories. This type of simulation provides real value when planning new or changes to existing factories where every minute of uptime carries value. This type of software, also called digital manufacturing, maps facilities and increases the chances of getting first-time-right production, reducing the number, risk and cost of expensive test runs.
Industrial companies have used simulation software to plan new production lines for several years now, but today, the vendors of this software have an opportunity to get in the driver’s seat of the Industry 4.0 bandwagon and include the specific details of other transformative technologies for virtual impact assessments prior to deploying at scale. Simulation software and these other technologies, which include additive and reductive manufacturing methods, advanced robotics, applications of Artificial Intelligence (AI), augmented reality, connectivity, and next-generation metrology and inspections on production lines, will validate each other.
While some may not consider simulation software by itself as transformative, if the vendors adapt to include other transformative technologies, they will fill an enormous need in advancing Industry 4.0. Vendors of simulation software should look at their big opportunity as growing technology in manufacturing. To make the most of this opportunity, they will need to simplify while at the same time innovating to account for these other technologies to get in the hands of as many users as possible.