As consumers demand new products and more variety, companies are racing against the clock to deliver. Speed to market is key to getting ahead of the game. A virtual environment can help you gain significant launch-time advantages.
Traditional methods of machine and production line design, commissioning and startup can be costly and impede speed to market. Discovering issues with controls integration, line sequencing or bottlenecks after machines are built or lines reconfigured is not the best time as it often results in installation and commissioning delays.
Manufacturers are turning to emulation as a tool to research, test and validate their process in a virtual space – before making physical changes to plant layout and workflow. Employing a virtual system that uses real operational logic and connects to PLCs can help minimize the resources required to bring a line from design to production. Producers commonly report a reduction in onsite controls commissioning times from three weeks to four days on a bottling line. This scale of reduction is typical, and is a big factor in driving adoption.
Embrace the possibilities
Have you ever wondered what would happen if you increased throughput by 10 percent? How would the control system respond if you change the mix of products? With factory floor virtualization, you can experiment and troubleshoot. An emulation model can easily be built for your existing lines, allowing for ongoing testing of new configurations and product types. Essentially, you can push the system to its breaking point, without any consequence, damage or interruption to the real thing.
The possibilities virtualization holds for reducing speed to market for manufacturers is becoming more accepted for multiple reasons including:
- Emulation technology is more attainable. Not only are more 3D drawings available, but creating your own model can be easy using drag-and-drop software.
- Your workforce is ready. Industrial engineers are coming out of school trained on this technology. They are even building cases for leadership given their understanding of the potential virtualization holds.
- Plug and play expectations are growing. As automation becomes more reliable, there is an expectation to create production lines that work from the start, without months of ramp.
- Seeing is believing. The ability to see a virtual operation in context, using augmented reality and today’s realistic visuals, makes your vision more believable, to more stakeholders.