Powering sustainable pharmaceutical manufacturing with factory simulation software

Product: Tecnomatix
Industry: Pharmaceuticals

Explore how Siemens Tecnomatix Plant Simulation and Opcenter solutions help to digitalize pharmaceutical manufacturing for sustainable efficiency.

In the heart of Glasgow, Scotland, the Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (MMIC) spearheads a transformative journey within the pharmaceutical (pharma) industry. CPI, technology innovation catalyst, opened the world leading MMIC to raise the bar in pharmaceutical manufacturing by redefining the future of pharmaceutical production with cutting-edge digital technology, collaborative expertise and more sustainable manufacturing practices. The MMIC is a unique collaboration between CPI and 23 partner organizations from all different sectors.

MMIC is an open-access collaborative innovation center specific to pharma manufacturing, meaning they work with numerous partners, such as industry giants like GSK, Pfizer and Novartis as well as partners from business, academia and government agencies Their collaboration for pharma manufacturing aims to deliver innovation that drives new processes and products into the pharma industry using Siemens digitalization solutions to tackle issues such as the development of more sustainable manufacturing processes.

The unique pharma manufacturing challenge

MMIC works with pharma companies, as well as technology companies and equipment manufacturers that provide technology to help the industry. However, one of the center’s challenges relates to maintaining the truest sense of collaboration through digitalization by creating a standard architecture that allows the factories to build consistently. This includes streamlining processes, accelerating development, and reducing waste and energy consumption, which is where Plant Simulation in the Tecnomatix® portfolio comes into play. By creating a digital twin based on real data, Tecnomatix empowers operators to optimize processes, minimize waste and enhance efficiency. Driving the center’s innovation engine is the digital twin. With it, pharma companies can design everything from the smallest single product, to manufacturing processes, to the entire factory, and detail and tweak each as needed. From identifying which materials work well to storing the the finished products, Tecnomatix Plant Simulation lets operators choose the right modules, conduct tests, and avoid bottlenecks.

The tool that we’ve used most for our digital twins for design is Tecnomatix. Our industrial partners set our digital ambition and my team delivers it.”

The major pharma’s success also lies in leveraging Siemens Opcenter™ Execution alongside Tecnomatix. This seamless integration among Siemens digital manufacturing software is a perfect example of how the Siemens Xcelerator portfolio ensures a streamlined experience for software users. Opcenter is a key element of the digital twin, ensuring the manufacturing execution is performed correctly and provides full traceability of the product and process. MMIC can now ensure information tracking, regulated process control and simplified approval processes. With customized dashboards consolidating data from various systems, personnel can make faster, more informed decisions, driving efficiency and agility.

Tecnomatix Plant Simulation and Opcenter software drive manufacturing success

At the core of innovation lies the digital twin, powered by Tecnomatix. The factory simulation software enables pharmaceutical companies to design and fine-tune every aspect of manufacturing processes, from individual products to entire factories. By simulation scenarios and identifying optimal solutions, Tecnomatix drives efficiency and minimizes waste. Not to mention, real-time data further enhances simulation accuracy, with Simatic® Real-time Location Services (RTLS) providing insights into object movement within the facility. This integration closes the loop between simulation and reality, facilitating continuous improvement and optimization.

Beyond efficiency gains, the center embraces sustainability as a core principle. Collaborating with Siemens consultants, MMIC was able to deploy automation, optimize processes and adopt smart building solutions to reduce their carbon footprint. The strive for sustainability is paramount for MMIC, which is enabled by Siemens digitalization solutions. Tecnomatix Plant Simulation emerges as a cornerstone in the pharmaceutical industry’s journey towards sustainability and efficiency. By optimizing processes, reducing waste and embracing digitalization, the MMIC sets a precedent for clean and sustainable manufacturing practices. With Tecnomatix as a driving success factor, the future of pharma manufacturing looks brighter, greener and more efficient than ever before.

Wipro PARI reduces commissioning time by 70%

Product: Tecnomatix
Industry: Automation

Leading automation developer uses Tecnomatix Process Simulate from Siemens to validate engine assembly line in three months

Wipro PARI is a leading global developer of automation and robotic systems that was founded in 1990. Headquartered in Pune, India, its customers include established automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) such as Daimler, Mahindra, Ford, FCA, TATA, VinFast, Renault Nissan, and The PSA Group.  Wipro PARI designs, manufactures, and installs complete, automated systems, including multi-station lines for machining and powertrain component assemblies.

Wipro PARI sought to digitalize their manual engineering efforts.  The company wanted to reduce work in manufacturing, eliminate unexpected software bugs that were delaying the physical commissioning process, and accelerate the time from machine commissioning to live production.

Wipro PARI selected Process Simulate in the Tecnomatix® portfolio from Siemens for their virtual commissioning (VC) solution. The VC process uses simulation technology to create a digital twin of a plant for testing changes before physically implementing them.  VC enables manufacturers to perform end-to-end virtual verification, mechanical and control systems design, as well as risk and failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA).  This solution ultimately enables engineers to avoid cost-intensive rework.

By incorporating VC into an automotive OEM project for a large machining line, Wipro PARI minimized rework by as much as 50 percent and reduced delivery time by as much as 10 percent.  “Virtual commissioning enables us to validate and optimize equipment performance for all complex use cases and failure modes early in the project lifecycle,” claims Dr. Ranjit Date, chief executive officer (CEO) of Wipro PARI.

Wipro PARI completed another VC project of a production volume-up on a brownfield engine assembly line in three months from design to shop floor commissioning.  This could have been a six-to-eight-month job in normal conditions.  In addition to improving process reliability and resolving design and process issues early on, they reduced on-site commissioning time by 70 percent.

“With Siemens’ solution, we have significantly improved performance ramp up and mitigated risks,” states Date.  They also improved collaboration between design and manufacturing by removing barriers between mechanical, electrical, and controls engineers.

Siemens simulation software powers Continental’s digital manufacturing journey

Product: Tecnomatix
Industry: Automotive

The realm of smart automation is complex and encompasses the integration of advanced technologies and intelligent systems to enhance and automate industrial processes. Explore the convergence of simulation and smart automation between Siemens Digital Industries Software and Continental, a major player in automotive technology, dedicated to sustainable and connected mobility solutions. Explore how Siemens simulation software in the Tecnomatix® portfolio powers Continental’s digital manufacturing transformation. Dive into the intricate world where Process Simulate and Plant Simulation help coordinate a symphony of efficiency for Continental. 

Founded in 1871, Continental is renowned for pioneering technologies that ensure safe, efficient, intelligent and affordable solutions for vehicles, machines and transportation. Jakub Hamerník, Continental’s Smart Automation Manager, sheds light on the profound impact of how Siemens software enables seamless digitalization on the shop floor, transforming processes and applications to enhance production timelines and efficiency. Siemens and Continental, long-time collaborators in PLCs and control systems, have deepened their partnership in recent years, particularly focusing on simulation. A pivotal aspect of this collaboration is the development of the digital twin factory, specifically the collection of production line data for future optimization, tracking and analysis. 

A new standard: a collaborative approach to manufacturing efficiency  

Central to this partnership is the challenge of streamlining the process flow from raw material to the end of production. Siemens simulation products play a critical role in providing comprehensive process information well before the production line delivery. This marks a significant departure from the previous norm, where engineers spent three to five years on the task. With Siemens, this duration has been slashed to a remarkable one and a half years, setting a new standard in the industry. 

Thanks to the Siemens products, we have all relevant information from the process point of view prepared months before the delivery of the production line. Before, the engineers would take 3-5 years to make it. Now we are able to make it in 1.5 years.”

Jakub Hamerník, Continental, Smart Automation Manager 

In a dynamic environment where original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) frequently update their car models, Continental recognizes the imperative to deliver new products efficiently and timely. Siemens software solutions enable Continental to meet these demands, facilitating the optimization of overall equipment efficiency (OEE) on production lines. 

Continental’s vision extends beyond the production floor, aiming to integrate Siemens’ products with their manufacturing execution system (MES) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. The goal is to establish a complete digital twin of the factory, effectively bringing IT applications to the shop floor. This comprehensive approach will provide insights into the entire end-to-end process, enabling real-time monitoring of goods, production progress and delivery timelines. 

From concept to reality: Siemens and Continental’s strategic partnership 

A moment of revelation for Continental occurred when its production line seamlessly transitioned without collisions. The simulation-derived cycle time was accurate, allowing Continental to commence production immediately after activation—a ‘wow effect’ resonating with both Jakub and Continental management. 

Ingemat: a virtual commissioning success story

Product: Tecnomatix
Industry: Automotive

Automotive engineering company uses Tecnomatix virtual commissioning software to better meet customer requirements while driving operational efficiency.

Ingemat employees using Process Simulate software for virtual commissioning solutions
Ingemat employees using Process Simulate software for virtual commissioning.

Ingemat is a Spanish engineering company offering robotic automation services for different industrial sectors, specializing in turnkey, tailor-made projects for the automotive industry. Their services cover installation design, erection, assembly, and commissioning to achieve the customer’s requirements for cycle time and quality. The primary technologies used in their projects include welding, hemming, bonding, clinching, and riveting.

Why Ingemat adopted virtual commissioning technology

Designing, deploying, and constructing a production line has always been based on a sequential process— The fixture installation is followed by robot installation and ensuring smooth operation with the equipment. Then, equipment and robots are integrated with programmable logic controller (PLC) automation until a qualified prototype can be produced. 

But this waterfall process is time-consuming and costly, involving massive robot and control code debugging and dealing with physical installation and cabling and wiring issues. It also requires using several expensive prototype assets that are not always available on time. This makes engineers perform under restrictive time constraints and high-stress levels, especially in the automotive space, where high-quality standards are imposed. 

The high standards of the automotive industry require Ingemat to work efficiently with as few errors as possible to meet timing and cost milestones. Because of this, they adopted Process Simulate in the Tecnomatix® portfolio of digital manufacturing software for robotics simulation and virtual commissioning.

“I would say, based on experience acquired in recent years, the selection of Process Simulate as a tool for virtual commissioning has been the right choice.

Oscar Vázquez, Electrical Engineering Deputy Manager at Ingemat

Watch this video to learn why Siemens was the right choice, or continue reading below.

Process Simulate helps Ingemat drive operational efficiency

Projects at Ingemat start with mechanical design and simulation, while electrical design progresses in parallel. After completing or advancing the mechanical design and simulation to a mature stage, offline robot programming (OLP) and PLC programming will kick off, followed by virtual commissioning. 

Using Process Simulate, Ingemat has realized virtual commissioning projects with different robot brands such as ABB, KUKA, Fanuc, Yaskawa, and Kawasaki – all this in connection with PLCs issued from Siemens and Allen‑Bradley, as well as custom-defined hardware.

Process Simulate software screenshot showing a virtual commissioning project by Ingemat
Ingemat uses Process Simulate and virtual PLC software together for virtual commissioning projects.

This methodology using Process Simulate allows Ingemat to parallelize work and shift most of the engineering tasks to the left in the project timeline, performing them in the back office.

Enabling mechanical, robotics, and controls departments to collaborate in the same platform allows the robot programs and the automation control code for PLCs and human-machine interfaces (HMIs) to be validated in the virtual environment before their delivery to the shop floor. 

As a result, the physical commissioning phase is much shorter and more efficient, requiring less debugging effort and fewer prototype assets, allowing the virtual commissioning personnel to focus on the quality of the produced assembly rather than the debugging of program code.

Why Process Simulate was the right choice for Ingemat

In a typical project, Ingemat implements virtual commissioning on a robotic zone, including up to 10 robots performing various tasks.

Once the virtual commissioning technician sets the engineering environment, it takes 2 to 3 weeks to test the production scenario and finish the virtual commissioning phase via the collaboration between the PLC and robot programmers. 

Consequently, robot programs and PLC codes are validated in the virtual environment and are already in a mature state when reaching the shop floor for the first time, leading to the following: 

  • 90% line readiness before physical implementation
  • 40% reduction in on-site debugging time
  • 10% savings in overall cost

Achieving over 30% time savings in solar photovoltaic manufacturing with Siemens Plant Simulation software

Product: Tecnomatix
Industry: Solar Energy

Photovoltaic manufacturing in the solar industry is facing increasingly diverse demands, requiring companies to balance economic efficiency with a sustainable vision for our planet. To meet these high standards, integrated and sophisticated technologies are essential throughout the entire value chain, from polysilicon production and ingot cutting to cell manufacturing and module assembly. Siemens Digital Industries Software Tecnomatix Plant Simulation software is a powerful tool that enables companies like M10 Solar Equipment GmbH to optimize their operations, resulting in remarkable time savings of over 30%.

Introducing M10 Solar Equipment GmbH

M10 Solar Equipment GmbH, a leading manufacturer of automatic systems for photovoltaic module production, is dedicated to advancing the global energy transition. Focusing on ECA (Electrically Conductive Adhesive) connection technology in conjunction with schematic technology, M10 developed the Surface machine to enable the industrial-scale implementation of this innovative module manufacturing approach. The company’s mission is to supply the European and global markets with cutting-edge machine technology that drives the renewable energy revolution.

The importance of simulation in development

Simulation plays a pivotal role in the development process at M10. Utilizing Plant Simulation software for photovoltaic manufacturing, the company was able to accurately model its goals of producing 12,010 strips per hour. This simulation-based approach allowed them to optimize production lines, streamline processes, reduce employee travel distances, minimize machine downtimes, shorten setup times and optimize energy consumption. Through the collaboration with Siemens, M10 achieved their objectives and realized significant time savings of over 30% throughout the entire project duration.

Driving innovation and collaboration

The collaboration between Siemens and M10 for photovoltaic manufacturing brought significant advantages and enabled the creation of new industry standards in automation. This partnership empowered all stakeholders involved to perfectly align their expertise and leverage innovative technologies, providing a competitive advantage in the blossoming European production landscape, particularly in Germany. By working together as equals with shared goals, both companies were able to provide strong mutual support and achieve remarkable results. These efforts supported the growth of the solar industry, especially in solar glass production, contributing to the revitalization of European value chains and bolstering the renewable energy transition.

Conclusion

Siemens Tecnomatix Plant Simulation software has played a crucial role in enabling M10 Solar Equipment GmbH to achieve remarkable time savings of over 30% in their solar photovoltaic manufacturing processes. By leveraging this powerful simulation software, M10 Solar Equipment GmbH optimized their production line, resulting in reduced operational inefficiencies and enhanced productivity. This success story showcases the immense potential of collaboration between innovative companies and the impact it can have on the solar industry, the energy transition and the overall growth of sustainable manufacturing practices.

Railway manufacturer uses Teamcenter and Tecnomatix to reduce design cycle by 30 percent and double stock utilization

Product: Tecnomatix
Industry: Automotive and Transportation

CSR Nanjing Puzhen Co., Ltd. (Puzhen), which was founded in 1908, is a research and manufacturing enterprise and an integrated service supplier for railway transport of passengers and urban rail transport equipment in China. The firm manufactures urban rail transit vehicles, intercity multiple units, modern tramcars as well as passenger cars and important core parts.

As China began to renovate its rail transit lines and expand urban/intercity rail transit transportation in 2004, Puzhen entered a period of tremendous growth. In 2014, the company’s annual sales hit ¥10 billion, up from less than ¥2 billion in 2004. In 2015, Puzhen officially kicked off the mass production of its 200 kilometers per hour (km/h) class intercity high-speed train for the Guangdong province.

In addition to a continued boom in the rail transport equipment manufacturing industry, the rapid growth of Puzhen is also attributable to its persistent efforts in research, development and manufacturing to improve its ability to innovate. Puzhen started to implement lean management early on, and has applied advanced information and digital systems such as computeraided design (CAD), computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), product data management (PDM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) in the research and development (R&D) and manufacturing processes to facilitate efficient and collaborative integration between design and manufacturing.

In 2013, Puzhen decided to implement two solutions from product lifecycle management (PLM) specialist Siemens Digital Industries Software: Teamcenter® software and the Tecnomatix® portfolio. The objective was to enhance planning, better manage and control design development projects, improve collaboration across design processes, and increase process quality and productivity. Two years into deployment, the company has realized significant achievements in design and manufacturing collaboration throughout the product lifecycle. In addition, it has built a uniform and comprehensive information-based R&D and manufacturing process, greatly enhancing innovative product R&D and manufacturing.Puzhen uses Teamcenter for lightweight design and process planning based on full 3D models.

Puzhen uses Teamcenter for lightweight design and process planning based on full 3D models.null

Allying with Siemens Digital Industries Software

Puzhen has a tradition of conducting solid technical research and information management. During the past decade, the company worked on the construction of a digital design and manufacturing platform. It adopted 2D and 3D CAD software and simulation analysis software for digital product design, and invested millions in building a PDM system that would enable sharing of design resources. Puzhen built an R&D system and testing platform adapted to its lean management idea. The company developed and implemented a science-based, practicable business information system for strategic planning. Based on PLM and select information technologies, Puzhen has realized integrated innovation in finished vehicles, and mastered core technologies in areas such as network control, aluminum alloy and stainless steel body manufacturing, as well as bogies and brakes.

The problem was that the prior software tools and PDM system needed to be upgraded due to insufficient standardization and lack of application depth. Puzhen’s early PDM system, though lightweight, convenient and sufficient for basic data and process management, was unable to be scaled up to cover other business units, including process and manufacturing. Therefore, Puzhen decided to introduce a more complete and powerful PLM system to help with collaboration and integration, from R&D and design to process planning and manufacturing.

After a long, detailed evaluation and analysis of similar companies and products both at home and abroad – based on technical capabilities, industrial experience, service abilities, costs and other considerations – Puzhen determined that solutions from Siemens Digital Industries Software could best meet its mid- and long-term applications requirements.

Teamcenter is a powerful collaborative product data management (cPDM) solution that has been applied extensively by large and mid-sized manufacturers all over the globe. Teamcenter enables enterprises to accelerate implementation, increase productivity, enhance collaboration both inside and outside of the company, and expand control over the entire product lifecycle process, while its uniform architecture provides enterprises with a complete end-to-end PLM solution.

Tecnomatix is a digital manufacturing system that integrates product R&D and design with process planning, process simulation and verification, and manufacturing execution. The combination of these two solutions is a perfect match for Puzhen to meet its requirements for in depth collaboration in R&D and manufacturing.

In addition to the powerful solutions and functions provided by Teamcenter and Tecnomatix, Puzhen points out that Siemens Digital Industries Software’s extensive experience working with large and mid-sized enterprises, especially those in the rail transport equipment manufacturing industry, as well as the technical service abilities of its implementation and after-sale teams, also played an important role in the decision. Siemens Digital Industries Software has accumulated a wealth of PLM project planning and implementation experience as its solutions have been widely applied in many well known manufacturing enterprises in China and throughout the world. Siemens Digital Industries Software is a significant participant in the global rail transit market with extensive practical engineering knowledge in business process features and information-based planning.

After two years of cooperation, Puzhen points out that, from the start, Siemens Digital Industries Software provided it with comprehensive PLM experience, highly effective technology products and important implementation/consulting services. During the midterm deployment and implementation process, Puzhen notes that Siemens Digital Industries Software helped it realize truly efficient project management and execution.Puzhen’s design, process and simulation platforms form a closed-loop data process management system.

Puzhen’s design, process and simulation platforms form a closed-loop data process management system.

Building an integrated platform

By deploying Siemens Digital Industries Software’s solutions, Puzhen intended to optimize design and process management, improve R&D efficiency and increase process simulation capabilities in order to meet both the market demand for rapid development and the company’s internal requirement for lean production. To that end, the leadership at Puzhen attached great importance to the implementation of the PLM project, repeatedly discussed the project at the company’s strategic meetings and kept a close eye on project execution. At critical project junctures, the leadership sought debriefings by the implementation team. The leadership required that the PLM project take the company’s business features into full account, thus thoroughly solidifying the management mindset of lean R&D.

With such attention and support from the company’s leadership, Puzhen has successfully motivated the staff to participate across management and technical levels. The implementation of the PLM project was headed by the technical information department, and a full-time project implementation team was formed consisting of key business personnel from the information, design, technology and other departments. The technical information department was tasked with overall control, management and promotion at all stages of implementation, while the design and technology departments mainly focused on assisting with solving business problems and relevant user testing work.

Siemens Digital Industries Software provided guidance and support throughout the process, delivering special insight in key impact areas, including technology, business, knowledge training and team management.

Using collaborative efforts at multiple levels, to date, Puzhen has implemented management projects for design, process, testing and simulation. Currently, the company is extending such projects to manufacturing sites and other disciplines within the organization.

The PLM system has been used to build four major platforms: design, process planning, simulation and testing. In total, 102 projects have gone live, enabling Puzhen to collect and use extensive platform data, improve design quality, significantly reduce design and process planning cycles, and cut down manufacturing and purchasing costs.

Puzhen has used Teamcenter to form a closed-loop information flow that has helped it realize six unifications and a single integration. The company has unified its product design data platform based on project management, R&D process control, the design resource platform (code, standard and interchangeable parts library and template), engineering change platform, file management for the release and storage of electronic drawings, and design simulation and testing verification platform; and Puzhen has integrated its data chain of design, process and production.

The six unifications and single integration have helped Puzhen:

  • Build major platforms for design, process and simulation, forming closed-loop data process management
  • Implement design management platform functions for file coding, file review and approval, design resource, file template, project data and electronic filing
  • Realize lightweight R&D and process planning based on full 3D models
  • Deliver integrated, platform-based engineering bills of materials (EBOMs), preliminary bills of materials (PBOMs), manufacturing bills of materials (MBOMs), enabling data source consistency and output standardization
  • Establish a structural assembly process, allowing engineers to directly view and use the design part information (including 3D design data), and to view complete upstream/downstream assembly relationships and sequences, with real-time process design facilitating quick, enlightened decision-making
  • Establish a shop floor simulation layout plan based on virtual reality and simulation technology, enabling the company to model a design or production process of a product in a unified and detailed fashion; utilize fully digital product design, processing, assembly and verification; and simulate the complete product lifecycle

Potential bottlenecks, critical paths and logistics issues are now readily identified, enabling increased production and improved equipment utilization. This notably reduces costs and increases competitiveness. Using the Teamcenter and Tecnomatix combination, Puzhen has shortened the design cycle by 30 percent while doubling stock utilization.Puzhen’s design platform enables the highly efficient management of functions: file coding, file review and approval, design resource, file templ ate, project data and electronic filing, etc.

Puzhen’s design platform enables the highly efficient management of functions: file coding, file review and approval, design resource, file templ ate, project data and electronic filing, etc.Puzhen simulates a 3D digital plant using Tecnomatix.

Puzhen simulates a 3D digital plant using Tecnomatix.

In the near term

The use of Teamcenter has provided great support for business data management, business process solidification and efficient product design, while enabling the company to build a uniform, standardized data sharing platform outside of the company that facilitates highly efficient business data exchange. For example, the Teamcenter PLM collaborative design platform has made it much easier for business groups and departments to exchange data, eliminating the difficult process of capturing issues that had been discussed during early stages of the project implementation process. Puzhen is particularly impressed with just how easily data can be found.

In the future, Puzhen IT plans to focus on platform construction, information flow, intelligent connection and interaction, smart manufacturing and related resources to build a super BOM platform, open up the entire business process and build a complete digital highway. The company is looking forward to Siemens Digital Industries Software’s recommendations regarding more advanced industrial and technical concepts, new pragmatic solutions and skillful implementation services. Ultimately, Puzhen is expecting to forge an even closer partnership with Siemens PLM Software for sustained, if not breakthrough, productivity gains.

Oakland University uses Siemens Digital Industries Software tools to provide experiential learning and connect students with companies

Product: Teamcenter
Industry: Academic

Since we integrated Plant Simulation into our program, a wide variety of companies have contacted me requesting help to fill fulltime throughput simulation positions. And with the launch of the Plant Simulation internship program, we expect that number to grow.

Robert Van Til, Pawley Professor Chair
ISE Department Oakland University

Preparing engineering students for Industry 4.0

Located in Rochester, Michigan, Oakland University is a public university whose School of Engineering and Computer Science is a major driver in the institution’s growing reputation. The school’s Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) department was founded in 2005 and features undergraduate, masters and doctorate level programs in industrial and systems engineering, engineering management, and systems engineering.  

The ISE department became a Siemens Digital Industries Software academic partner in 2011. Since then, the department has integrated several tools from Siemens Digital Industries Software’s Tecnomatix® portfolio, including Plant Simulation, Jack™ software and Process Simulate Robotics as well as solutions from the Teamcenter® software portfolio, into undergraduate and graduate engineering courses. And the ISE department is currently integrating Insights Hub, the industrial IoT solution from Siemens, along with Opcenter® suite into some courses which are all part of the Siemens Xcelerator business platform of software, hardware and services.

Several ISE department graduates have secured full-time positions with well over a dozen companies working on various aspects of Industry 4.0, with approximately 10 of those companies hiring Oakland University students for their knowledge of Plant Simulation. Due to the use of Plant Simulation and other Siemens Digital Industries Software tools, the academic partnership program has helped Oakland University develop relationships with many companies who were previously unaware of the ISE department’s programs.Preparing engineering students for Industry 4.0Preparing engineering students for Industry 4.0Preparing engineering students for Industry 4.0Preparing engineering students for Industry 4.0

Creating a hands-on throughput simulation course

After using Plant Simulation in some existing courses, the ISE department found that many students, as well as the companies hiring its graduates, suggested the development of a new course that takes a deeper-dive into the use of the tool and its application. This led to the creation of a new half-semester course titled PLM Applications – Throughput Simulation. The course combines education with some training, teaching students to operate Plant Simulation and use the tool to complete various hands-on throughput simulation assignments.

With discrete event simulation of manufacturing and other systems becoming increasingly vital to industry, the course focuses on using Plant Simulation to build, run and analyze discrete event simulations of systems and to present the results. Students learn about the creation and usage of a digital twin to reduce risk and return value. The course covers requirements analysis, model creation, validation, and a “what if” analysis. 

To better serve working engineers the course is offered in the evenings. Robert Van Til, Pawley professor and chair of the ISE department says, “A large percentage of students in our masters’ programs are full-time working engineers since all graduate courses are offered in the evenings. We also get working engineers taking this course as well as other PLM-related courses as non-degree students.”Creating a hands-on throughput simulation courseCreating a hands-on throughput simulation courseCreating a hands-on throughput simulation course

Experiential learning through the Plant Simulation internship program

Experiential learning allows students to take the concepts and techniques learned in the classroom and apply them to realworld problems in an industrial environment. Through the Plant Simulation internship program, Oakland University’s ISE students participate in experiential learning. The paid internship program consists of four parts: 

  • The ISE department works with companies to recruit and interview ISE students to serve as a Plant Simulation intern, with the company making the final selection  
  • The intern is paid to take the PLM Applications – Throughput Simulation course to learn Plant Simulation during the fall semester. The company also selects a throughput simulation project for the intern, in consultation with ISE faculty members, during the fall semester
  • The intern is paid to work part-time on the throughput simulation project under company supervision with the assistance of an ISE faculty member during the winter semester, approximately 12 to 15 hours per week. The intern works on the project either in Oakland University’s Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) laboratory or at the company’s facility while taking classes. If the intern works primarily at Oakland University, he or she will still spend time at the company’s facility to learn about the system being modeled, collect data, etc.
  •  The intern is paid to work on the project full-time during the summer, again either in Oakland University’s PLM Laboratory, at the company’s facility or at a mixture of the two locations

The internship program was piloted during the 2018-19 school year. Plant Simulation interns were placed at an aerospace company and an automotive original equipment manufacturer (OEM).

Oakland ISE undergraduate student Brianna Walters’ internship project at an aerospace company focuses on using Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV) and Mounted Robot Guided Vehicles (MRGV) to move parts and tools through a job shop type model. Walters notes, “The company initially had me using my Plant Simulation model to explore the software and its capabilities. Next, we plan to look at machine and transporter utilization.” 

While Walters was originally scheduled to serve her internship during the summer of 2019, the company was so impressed by her work that they have hired her to a full-time engineering position.

Another ISE undergraduate student, Mick Packard, is interning at an automotive OEM. His project involves several steps:

1. Shadow company and Siemens team members during initial weeks, observing the business actions and practices of the group while continuing to build on knowledge of Plant Simulation and model design techniques.

2. Create a digital twin model of an engine block machining line, then validate the model to a level of statistical significance while meeting key performance standards.

3. Run pallet optimization tests and buffer sensitivity analysis using the model.

4. Design “what if” scenarios based on optimizing line performance.

5. Create a report on the project; breaking down the process of building the model, features included in the model for re-usability and continued tests, accuracy of model, results of “what if” scenarios, as well as challenges and struggles.

6. Finally, present results to company managers, team members and plant engineers. Also, provide an in-depth knowledge transfer opportunity for other company engineers on model practices/features.

“This internship has been an amazing experience,” says Packard. “It’s great to take the tools and techniques we are learning in our Oakland classes and apply them to real-world engineering problems.”

The Plant Simulation internship program is being offered to other large companies as well as to small-to-medium sized businesses (SMB). Many SMB are evaluating the value of integrating PLM tools such as Plant Simulation into their operations. The internship program offers a cost-effective way to conduct an independent throughput simulation evaluation study on a company’s existing system without purchasing a license or training existing personnel. 

After the project is completed, the Plant Simulation internship program also provides companies with the option of hiring the intern, who is not only educated in discrete event simulation and trained in the use of Plant Simulation but is also familiar with the company.

The early results of the program have exceeded Oakland University’s expectations as demand for graduates with throughput simulation experience with Plant Simulation has far exceeded the supply.

“Since we integrated Plant Simulation into our program, a wide variety of companies have contacted me requesting help to fill full-time throughput simulation positions,” says Van Til. “And with the launch of the Plant Simulation internship program, we expect that number to grow.”Experiential learning through the Plant Simulation internship program Experiential learning through the Plant Simulation internship program Experiential learning through the Plant Simulation internship program Experiential learning through the Plant Simulation internship program Experiential learning through the Plant Simulation internship program

Plans for the future

Oakland University is considering expanding the Plant Simulation internship program into an Industry 4.0 internship program with the addition of internship opportunities that focus on ergonomics and robotics by using the Jack and Process Simulate Robotics tools, respectively. This should be relatively straightforward since the ISE department already offers handson courses on both Jack and Process Simulate Robotics.

The company initially had me using my Plant Simulation model to explore the software and its capabilities. Next, we plan to look at machine and transporter utilization.

Brianna Walters, Student, Intern at aerospace company
Oakland University

MINO saves time with Tecnomatix virtual commissioning solutions

Product: Tecnomatix
Industry: Automotive and Transportation

Tecnomatix provides a compensation alignment capability that can deliver accuracy as high as 98 percent in production line simulation, thus reducing the amount of rework on the shop floor.

He Wei, Production Director
Guangzhou MINO Auto Equipment Co., Ltd.

Accelerated growth

Guangzhou MINO Auto Equipment Co., Ltd. (MINO) is the largest and leading high-end automotive equipment supplier in South China. Since its establishment in 2008, MINO has attained significant expertise and has become one of the best automation equipment enterprises in China’s auto industry, realizing an average annual sales growth of more than 200 percent.

Since its founding, MINO has experienced dramatic success, capital investment and expansion. Between 2010 and 2012, the company secured venture capital funding of more than 60 million renminbi (RMB). In 2013, the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology awarded MINO RMB 6.5 million in special support funds for the company’s flexible conveying system, and MINO’s industrial robotic integration system was awarded RMB 3 million in support funds from the Economic and Information Commission of Guangdong Province. In 2014, the company secured additional venture capital funding of RMB 120 million and began construction of a new facility in Huadu district.Accelerated growth

Leveraging Tecnomatix for enhanced competitiveness

Since the automotive industry has extensively implemented mature automation applications, automakers expect the production lines in their facilities in China to be designed using 3D planning and simulation testing. Years ago, MINO adopted Robcad™ software in the Tecnomatix® portfolio for robotic simulation. MINO used Robcad, a solution from product lifecycle management specialist (PLM) Siemens Digital Industries Software, for mechanical simulation and offline robot programming in individual work cells, but the offline programs often required control engineers to debug the control systems on site to properly synchronize the robots and equipment. Using Robcad alone, the company was unable to meet the commissioning requirements of an entire complex production line with electronic controls.

After comprehensive evaluation of a broad range of criteria for design, simulation and analysis capabilities and technical support, MINO decided to adopt a comprehensive range of Tecnomatix solutions.

The Tecnomatix portfolio of digital manufacturing solutions provides design, analysis, simulation and optimization capabilities for plants, production lines and work cells, and delivers process innovation by linking all manufacturing disciplines with product engineering, including process layout planning and design, process simulation and validation and manufacturing execution.

The use of Tecnomatix helps MINO improve the quality and accuracy of production line designs. “By simulating the whole production line, we can identify defects and problems in the design to make necessary corrections before real production,” says He Wei, production director at MINO. “Tecnomatix provides a compensation alignment capability that can deliver accuracy as high as 98 percent in production line simulation, thus reducing the amount of rework on the shop floor.”

Navigating a complex project

For implementation of the Tecnomatix solution, MINO worked closely with Siemens Digital Industries Software solution partner Guangzhou Gohope Info-tech, which helped navigate the project and provided training services. Using the body-in-white (BIW) welding line for example, Guangzhou Gohope collaborated with MINO to develop independent welding process planning, design, simulation and virtual commissioning capabilities and conducted training on the software to improve the company’s efficiency and quality in body process planning. The collaboration helped shorten manufacturing preparation time on the body production line and improved the capacity of the company’s auto welding lines.

In 2015, with the help of technical teams from Guangzhou Gohope and Siemens Digital Industries Software, MINO successfully wrapped up the largest project of the year – phase three of the GAC passenger car welding project, which includes 63 KUKA robots with an 80 percent level of automation and an expected annual throughput of up to 180,000 units. It took 20 engineers just half a year to finish a range of advanced simulation tests using Tecnomatix. The accomplishment leads the industry in both project lead time and technology complexity, and was unimaginable before joining hands with Guangzhou Gohope.

“Besides the Tecnomatix solution, Guangzhou Gohope’s extensive practical experience in the automation industry, professional after-sales service and technical support teams, and a complete technical training system are among the main reasons that drove us to enter into long-term cooperation with them,” says Zhou Xiaowen, mechanical engineering manager at MINO.Navigating a complex project

By simulating the whole production line, we can identify defects and problems in the design to make necessary corrections before real production.

He Wei, Production Director
Guangzhou MINO Auto Equipment Co., Ltd.

Virtual reality and human simulation at GM

Product: Tecnomatix
Industry: Automotive and Transportation

General Motors uses virtual reality and human simulation together to accelerate early issue discovery and improve team communication

Virtual reality (VR) is an exciting technology that is proving to deliver real results across manufacturing industries. In particular, the application of VR in manufacturing process simulation is enabling the early identification of issues by allowing engineers to become immersed in their designs at one-to-one scale, discovering and solving problems before physical resources are spent. Integrating the results of VR simulation in the process workflow allows for the communication of issues effectively across physically separated teams. Because mastering VR is simple and intuitive, the technology is becoming rapidly adopted for industrial use.

Ryan Porto, Technical Specialist Ergonomics at General Motors, and Jonathan Botkin, Senior Program Ergonomist at General Motors, presented their application of VR using Process Simulate in the Tecnomatix® portfolio of digital manufacturing software from Siemens at Realize Live, Siemens’ global user conference. This blog summarizes their presentation and shows how VR is advancing efficiencies in the automotive industry.

Simulación humana GM VR

Virtual reality and human simulation at General Motors

The Global Ergonomics Lab in Manufacturing Engineering at General Motors (GM) is currently conducting VR sessions using Process Simulate. The Ergonomics team uses VR to immerse product and manufacturing engineers in their designs, giving them visualization of a variety of advanced assemblies and operations in a 3D environment.

The focus of the immersive studies is to evaluate human reachability, line of sight, accessibility, and hand clearance. Immersive technology has enhanced human simulation studies during the vehicle development process for the design of safer workstations. It has also increased collaboration between product engineering and manufacturing engineering to reduce late design changes in the product lifecycle.

Virtual reality simulation

The GM team showed several video examples of how they are leveraging VR in their ergonomics lab. In one case, a subject interacts with an aluminum structure simulating the barrier and boundary awareness. The simulation mimics the hard points of a vehicle and simulates reach constraints.

The GM team added 3D printed parts to represent exact dimensions to assess accessibility and line of sight of the team member. The immersive technology helps them improve the skillset of program ergonomists and allows the ergonomist to validate their simulations in a 3D environment from a third-person point of view.

Simulación de RV de GM

Included in the simulation is the Process Simulate “live hands” module, which gives a close-up understanding of manual assembly and hand clearance. Real-time measurement is available with an interactive ruler in the scene. Markup capabilities identify issues for the audience, and issue tracking is facilitated with notes to capture and document the issue description and record screenshots.

Virtual Reality in Process Simulate provides a realistic representation of an operation when the current plant or process does not exist today. It helps ensure consistency and reliability between evaluations across multiple programs.

Simulación de RV de GM

Motion capture capabilities

The GM team leverages motion capture capabilities provided in Process Simulate. They use an inertial motion capture solution to record the task of a female operator as she ducks under the impact beam and enters the engine compartment. Using a larger male operator, motion capture can be used to compare how a larger anthropometry would enter the engine compartment. The team can evaluate the duck under height to ensure there is accessibility to the compartment and analyze the accurate posture of a future task or operation. Motion capture enables the integration and interaction with physical structures and 3D printed parts and assemblies.

Captura de movimiento GM
Captura de movimiento GM

Virtual reality live hands

The live hands feature of Process Simulate Virtual Reality allows the ergonomist to envision hands scaled and postured from the Process Simulate posture library. They are then able to do general hand clearance studies, validating simulations moving objects in an assembly sequence, as outlined by the manufacturing process.

Manos vivas de GM

Virtual reality line of sight

The 3D assessments in Virtual Reality allow validation of operator line of sight. For example, the GM team can see the manikin line of site to determine whether the operator could see the fittings on the brake apply module. They are then able to leverage VR to find alternative postures that were not previously considered and now provide adequate line of sight.

Línea de visión del GM

Collaboration within the VR module

In addition to the improvements of human simulation, VR has also brought tremendous value to collaboration across several groups at General Motors. During a time when working remotely has significantly increased, they have still been able to safely collaborate with key stakeholders such as designers, plant representatives, and product and manufacturing engineers. They are sharing immersive sessions and demos virtually through portals such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom. Rather than creating physical mock-ups from scratch, new vehicles can be reviewed by the members of the plant virtually.

Colaboración de GM

Siemens application lifecycle management solution supports gematik in the development of telematics infrastructure

Product: Siemens, Polarion ,ALM
Industry: Medical devices and pharmaceuticals

Polarion ALM enables end-to-end requirements and test management for hardware and software for Germany’s digital healthcare networkEvery change to a specification has an effect on tests and approvals and can be viewed immediately and tracked in an audit-proof manner. This automatically leads to an improvement in communication and interdisciplinary cooperation.Polarion ALM enables end-to-end requirements and test management for hardware and software for Germany’s digital healthcare network

René Weidner, Project Manager gematic

Polarion ALM enables end-to-end requirements and test management for hardware and software for Germany’s digital healthcare network

Digitalizing the healthcare sector

gematik GmbH in Berlin was founded in January 2005 as a service company by the leading organizations of the German health care system. Since May 2019, the Federal Ministry of Health has held 51 percent of the shares. Originally, the statutory mandate provided for the introduction, maintenance and further development of an electronic health card (eGK) in the field of statutory health insurance in Germany. The project included defining the infrastructure required for telecommunications and information technology, ensuring its security and the interoperability of the components involved.

With the E-Health Act of 2015, these tasks were expanded to include the introduction of an electronic patient file and an electronic patient compartment (ePF). These should enable insured persons to access their treatment data at any time and make it available electronically to their infrastructurerespective service providers. gematik does not develop its own hardware and software, but every manufacturer and service provider requires approval from gematik for the use of the telematics infrastructure (TI). Based on specifications, tests and approvals by gematik, companies developing hardware and sofware for use in the healthcare infrasructure can assure that their products are secure and interoperable, and can reliably exchange data in the healthcare system.

New, integrated software environment required

gematik’s main tasks include requirements management for the preparation of specifications and test execution and management for testing hardware and software products submitted for approval. In addition to word processing and spreadsheets, for both tasks gematic has used four different industry-standard software products with separate data storage.

In order to close process gaps, improve the flow of information between requirements and test management, and to remain fit for the future, in 2015 gematik launched a joint selection project for a new solution to support the core processes. “We wanted to replace the exchange of documents with a system-supported requirements management system that provides both divisions with all information in a common database,” says René Weidner, who as project manager has specialist responsibility for the overall system.

As early as the end of 2015, a Europe-wide tendering process was launched; in February 2016, the catalog of system requirements was completed, based on three rounds of tenders. “Polarion ALM from Siemens best meets the requirements of both groups,“ says Weidner. “The strengths of the system are balanced almost equally between requirements and test management. The web-based solution also convinces with a modern user interface, high flexibility for extensions and continuous versioning based on Subversion. As a standard solution, Polarion provides so many functions that we were able to meet our difficult requirements with little customizing and expect correspondingly low maintenance costs.”

Automated processes

In requirements management, specifications are written for connectors and other TI components as well as for the structure and security of insured master data, the electronic patient file, the electronic emergency data record or medication plan and e-prescription. Polarion can be used to automatically create the profiles that form the basis for approval by gematik. “The software enables a smooth process from document management to final publication on the internet,” says Gunnar Schopf, who, as deputy project manager, is responsible for gematik’s document management system, among other tasks.

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