Simulation can Reduce Start-Up Time 75 Percent

Simulation is a tool that can be used in many process automation projects to reduce risk, save money and compress the project cycle. Simulations are created by building a model of the proposed process, usually by using PC-based software packages. Simulation can provide a proof-of concept in advance of major project expenditures. It can also be used to provide a cost/benefit analysis and a risk assessment for different design approaches.

A Case Study

A frozen pancake manufacturer wants a conveyor system that would reduce the number of jams that occur when multiple lines of pancakes merged into a stacking area. With the existing conveyor system, pancakes exited the freezer were randomly distributed. Study shows that the pancakes needs to emerge from the freezer in six controlled streams. Next, the system needs to stack the pancakes six high and merge the stacks onto a single-file conveyor.
Product damage directly attributable to the new system should not exceed 0.2 percent, and the system needs to have a runtime efficiency of 96 percent or better.

 A simulation of proposed frozen-pancake conveyor system allowed corrections in the design phase of the project, where they are significantly cheaper to implement.

A simulation of proposed frozen-pancake conveyor system allowed corrections in the design phase of the project, where they are significantly cheaper to implement.

Top Benefits of Simulation

  1. Provides a proof-of-concept before major project expenditures.

  2. Provides a cost/benefit analysis and a risk assessment for different design approaches.

  3. Reveals design flaws early, when costs for correction are low.

  4. Reduces installation and start-up time.

  5. Shows how a retrofit will work within an existing process.

Minimizing Risk

Before embarking on the project, a simulation software is used to create an initial design concept to help calculate product manufacturing variables. This helps determine project variable specifics and minimize risk. One can know before contract acceptance if it is possible to achieve project goals. An AutoCAD layout of the project and a schematic with flow rates, frequencies and product distribution is used to program simulation. Simulation capabilities allow the manufacturer to see the operation dynamically and increase customer confidence. It also assures the design solution would work, and it shows what kind of improvements would result in the manufacturing process.

Saving Time

Simulation optimizes the process virtually. Because all the process changes and tweaks are done online, the start-up takes only weeks instead of months. The result is a manufacturing process that decreased pancake product damage within requested parameters. The solution also reduced the number of employees required to monitor pancake production from four people to one.

Developing the simulation takes more time at the beginning of the project, but it saves considerable time during installation, start-up and debugging. Costs for corrections made in the design phase of a project are miniscule when compared to making corrections during start up.

- Mukund