Product and Process27 Jul, 2004 By: Cadalyst Staff
Delmia QUEST simulates process options for manufacture of next-generation fuel tank.
Product and process must work together for a company to land and keep a major contract in today's competitive automotive manufacturing environment. In this case, the product is a next-generation ZEV (zero-emissions vehicle) fuel tank (figure 1) developed by Visteon Corp. (www.visteon.com), a leader in multilayer tank wall construction. Along with the innovative product design, the company also explored the most efficient way to produce the new tank. The company identified three possible manufacturing cell configurations for evaluation by varying the number of stations, station configurations, and required operators.
Figure 1. Visteon used DELMIA's QUEST object-based simulation program to configure an efficient work cell design to manufacture its next-generation ZEV (zero-emissions vehicle) fuel tank.
Enter Delmia's QUEST, an object-based simulation system for creating 2D and 3D models of facility layout, material flow, and production processes. QUEST's simulation language lets you interactively create models and then modify labor, speed, equipment layout, and other inputs to get quick feedback on the results of those changes. This speeds the creation of optimum configurations, and speed is vital in the automotive industry.
QUEST contains all the modeling elements necessary for effective simulations. These include machines, buffers, processes, failures, repairs, labor, via points, way points, and sinks. By using QUEST, a manufacturer can obtain a 3D visual representation or animated factory on screen. The animated factory is developed using 2D AutoCAD layouts, 3D CAD files imported from equipment suppliers, and reusable 3D objects from QUEST's intelligent object library. This model then serves as the base for other possible configurations. QUEST lets you model plant operator behavior using its Labor Controller and path system. The program simulates work loops using points to evaluate the efficiency of the worker's path. Modeling operator behavior can be a stumbling block, but DELMIA's engineering team devised a way to combine simulation logic without affecting simulation and analysis.
After Visteon developed its models in QUEST and received the simulation data, engineers started verification and validation, including both visual and analytical approaches. Visual verification employs 3D animations. The visual presentation can be helpful because it lets you see how the various elements move in the proposed configuration. If something isn't right, it's immediately visible.
The analytical approach involves number crunching -- processing known and projected data on cycle times, downtimes, and other variables to determine the throughput time and other performance characteristics of the proposed configurations. The visual and analytical models lead to the timely selection and validation of the optimum configuration before any equipment is moved on the plant floor.
By modeling and simulating the proposed manufacturing cell configurations, Visteon was able to identify the optimal solution for producing the fuel tanks. If production increases or a model change are needed in the future, Visteon can reuse data within QUEST and manipulate it without starting from ground zero.