A methodical and highly collaborative approach, transferring knowledge from automotive sector, was used to maximise the advanced manufacturing outcomes from the AIMCH project.
Identified appropriate factory planning parameters appropriate to the panelised OSM.
Factory discovery activity illustrated the complexities compared to traditional manufacturing.
A modelling approach demonstrated different tools and techniques.
Through collaborative development, flexible but relevant mathematical models and simulation tools were developed.
Practical assessment and testing ensured robust tools and reliable outcomes.
Real world application, demonstrated the value of mathematical modelling and simulation.
A phased development approach was used to create flexible modelling tools for use in construction related manufacturing. Outputs could be used for small basic panelised OSM building systems, as well as large complex systems. The phased approach enabled different tools to be explored and developed.
To demonstrate the capability of using mathematical modelling tools to support the creation of a new factory specification and layout, in terms of the shop floor system capacity, layout, flow and cost.
This helped to:
- Illustrate the access and usability of modelling techniques for factory planning without specialist software.
- Create a factory specification and an associated visual layout of the proposed factory.
Development of this model was a challenging prospect as it was designed to serve as a scalable and adaptable tool able to cope with various complex scenarios associated with OSM factory operations, as well as providing a structured and practical method for factory design.
The mathematical model not only calculates quantities of equipment and labour required to support the factory demand but allows the user to visualise the layout of the factory production system to better understand and communicate to others.
2D DES Model
Discrete Event Simulation (DES) was used to assess the dynamic nature and performance of the factory production system over time and under various conditions and constraints.
This helped to:
- Illustrate how factory analysis can be carried out using a structured platform, data sets and planning approach.
- Create a set of key performance indicators highlighting production system process, interactions and outputs.
The 2D discrete-event simulation (DES) model managed to strike a fine balance between the provision of a user-friendly data management system and the scenario testing process.
A structured data interface was developed to enable the user to control and interact with the DES model for ease of data inputs, model build, scenario runs and output results without having to use the DES software directly.
3D DES Model
To enhance the factory visualisation by utilising CAD models, and some factory environment modelling, a 3D representation of the factory production system and shop floor was developed.
This helped to:
- Illustrate how a planned and analysed factory specification can be presented as a final factory design.
- Create a visual 3D factory representation to aid in the understanding and communication of a factory design.
The user interface used 3D CAD models to enhance the visualisation of the factory and its environment to sufficient detail ready for a full 3D architectural model and flythrough to be developed.
The real 3D DES Model aids collaborative planning of future factory designs with internal and external stakeholder. This avoids potential issues and incorporates important factors into the overall design concept.
3D Revit Model
To engage with stakeholders and demonstrate the future factory design SMG engaged Corstorphine & Wright Architects to develop a 3D Revit architectural model.
This helped to:
- Illustrate a greater level of detail both within the factory unit and surrounding service areas.
- Create an animated fly-through to bring the design to life.
Sourcing the 3D objects can be time-consuming, with some machinery suppliers not used to being asked for 3D CAD models of their equipment, and the smaller scale bespoke equipment needing to be modelled from scratch.
As well as providing a virtual reality view of the future factory design to wider stakeholders, it has also prompted positive challenges and engagement on design decisions enabling further design iterations and improvements.
The tool set and methodology developed provides the capability to build and evaluate many different production scenarios so that investment decisions can be made with deeper insight.
This new capability will be exploited in the following ways:
- The toolset will enhance the MTC’s offering for Business and Factory Optimisation, demonstrating that it is pushing the boundaries of the technology.
- The tool set will not just service the construction industry; it will be used across other sectors as well. This means the AIMCH project will have developed capabilities that can be exploited in traditional manufacturing industries such as Aerospace, Defence, and Automotive.
Going forward the toolset could be developed so that process and facility designs are optimised concurrently, leading to more cost effective production facilities. This will be explored beyond AIMCH.
The project has provided a number of agile and accessible tools that have been able to be used immediately.
This helped to:
- Model (and remodel) scenarios quickly and without external consultant support.
- Inform real investment decisions with a greater degree of confidence.
It highlighted, especially with DES tools, that a certain degree of experience and understanding is required to maximise the benefits of the tools.
The tools have increased the use and acceptance of simulation and modelling to assist in decision making. The ability to reuse and reconfigure the modelling for different elements will ensure continued value.
The AIMCH Advanced Manufacturing workstream delivered the following outcomes:
- Created new standardised, flexible modelling tools capable of replicating a variety of industrial scenarios to many different levels.
Provided non-experts ability to interact with simulation modelling technology and gain quick, fact-based insights to make better decisions without specialist software expertise.
- Adoption of modelling techniques as part of the in-house investment strategy process within an OSM company, normally reliant on hiring specialist consultancies.
- Demonstrated the value of modelling tools for interacting with stakeholders when planning real future investment and developing business cases.