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3D simulation as a productivity improvement tool

29 January, 2020

The popular saying says that experiments, better to do them with soda. We can’t think of a more concise and simple description for the need to use simulation tools in the  industrial environment.

Simulating in this context is equivalent to the possibility of testing and learning in a safe environment that mimics as faithfully as possible to reality. Something that has been done for decades to train airplane pilots, ship captains or astronauts.

Simulation in the industrial field is not a new concept for large companies, which have been using mathematical models and algorithms for a long time to simulate different processes within their value chain.

However, these tools were so far restricted to the field of engineering, given their complexity and the need for deep technical knowledge for their management and use, in addition to requiring considerable computing power to handle large amounts of data.

On the other hand, 3D software is also nothing new in the field of product design and product manufacturing, since CAD applications have been used for decades, first in 2D versions and later in 3D.

To put it in some way, the bricks to build the 3D industrial simulation building were already available, but its high cost and the complexity already mentioned restricted its use to very specific aspects and sectors in the field of engineering, architecture and construction. industrial design.

Industry 4.0 is, according to many experts, a new Industrial Revolution. Digitization already reaches any area of ​​the company and is no longer the heritage of large corporations, due to the progressive lowering of its tools and applications. Today we have more computing power and storage capacity in a laptop than we could have 20 years ago in large servers.

If we have the ingredients and they are already accessible to everyone, the time has come to get to work.

3D simulation: Optimization of resources and saving of costs and times.

All studies on Industry 4.0 mention simulation, virtual reality and augmented reality as part of the basic elements of the technological revolution involved in Industry 4.0. The creation of a “digital twin” of a company (or a building, or even a city) allows to study different scenarios to identify, through the use of mathematical algorithms, the optimal scenario to improve productivity while maintaining an adequate cost/benefit balance. Let’s look at a practical example:

A company wants to implement robotic systems or automations that allow it to improve its productive capacity. But where is it profitable to locate robots in a production chain, and how many of them? How to know in advance, when making an investment effort in robotization (and its corresponding sensorization)if we are not going to fall short or, on the contrary, we are overestimating our needs? That is where 3D simulation plays a fundamental role, by allowing us to study different scenarios and accurately calculate, known the dimensions of physical space, logistical capacity and many other factors, what is the optimal point at which we will maximize the results minimizing the investment.

But this is not the only role of 3D simulation technology. A major problem that many companies face is that, unless they are completely new factories or companies, there is often a high degree of technological dispersion: various technologies living together and producing data that, in many cases , are scattered in different places and hinder analysis and overall vision, making this task unnecessarily complex and making decision-making difficult or delaying.

NOA (Norlean Operations  Analyzer) is a new tool that overlays a virtual reality layer on all this data, integrating them into a single interface that can not only be viewed on a  screen but can also be “entered” through virtual reality glasses.

In addition, NOA not only allows you to simulate machines. You can also simulate people, layout  and processes, presenting them not at a click, but a simple hand gesture. The user no longer has to be a specialist to understand what is happening or access specific data, as he can move and “walk” towards them. A totally immersive experience that puts at the reach of any company a technology so far heritage of large corporations. All data, even in real time with an adequate sensor network, can be viewed in a way that is superimposed on that virtual reality environment.

Creating an intuitive, immersive and manageable digital twin for people without great technical knowledge is a revolution in decision-making. 3D simulation makes it possible and NOA is a real example that the future is already here.

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