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What is PlantSim and why should foundries utilize it?

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Today we will briefly go over one of the tools in my industrial engineering toolbox. That tool is Plant Simulation software, specifically the one we’ve utilized is Siemens Technomatix Plant Sim.

What is PlantSim?

PlantSim is a PLM software that allows us to simulate simple and complex production flows completely on a computer of virtually of any selected sites within the Lawton Standard Platform. It’s a tool that’s widely used by automotive manufacturers in the United States and abroad. It is not very widely used by foundries, but upon my graduation from Oakland University and being exposed to the tool there, I saw a potential opportunity to implement it here in the foundry industry.

What can PlantSim do?

It can create a virtual model of a production system with up to 500 working stations, which is much more than we will ever need at Lawton Standard, as it is larger than any of the facilities that we have in the company. Simulations can be run in timeframes of hours, days, weeks, or even months. PlantSim can provide you with in-depth analytics for any production system. The analytics include, a total breakdown of uptime, downtime, setup time, blocked/starved time, etc. It has additional statistical tools like bottleneck analyzer, experiment managers, things of that nature.  It also has data fitting and data validation capabilities, so taking raw time study data and implementing it into the software, it can fit that to a distribution in order for it to account for variability.  It also has the ability to fit that with over 20 different distributions.

How is it different?

One of the reasons I love PlantSim as opposed to traditional evaluation methods is that it allows us to account for variability where in other places it’s not possible. In things like time studies, you can account for it, but it is more difficult to directly apply what you learn from time studies without PlantSim.  Other methods like waste walks and some of the lean tools you can use to evaluate problems, but sometimes it’s hard to account for variability and it can also be hard to pinpoint specific areas of concern. Due to the capabilities of the software, you can also identify specific areas of concern, which the software helps you do. It’ll help you find where those areas of concern are and figure out what’s limiting your production in those areas.

Plant Sim is one of my favorite industrial engineering tools. It allows us to get a more in-depth look at what we’re doing and truly understand our production systems. It’s a tool that the Lawton Standard is utilizing to ensure continued and sustained success for now and the future.