Increase Manufacturing Productivity of Automated Production Lines

By Markus Erlmann

In a recent post I wrote about Tecnomatix 9 driving planning and manufacturing productivity. One example is our customer ebm-papst which increased planning productivity by 30 percent.

But what about the manufacturing productivity? Let’s have a look at automated production lines. They are e.g. used in the automotive industry. A good overview provides this movie from KUKA, a robot manufacturer. If you jump to 0:30 you will see a whole body-in-white line working.

Today all these robots are programmed and validated in a virtual environment. In addition to the robots, system level control is required. This is accomplished with Programmable Logic Controllers or short PLC. They handle the decision making for the line such as material flow or control the fixtures and grippers which are locating the parts in place during the welding process. These PLCs are generally programmed with applications provided by the PLC vendor. As you could see in the video, the robots and PLCs need to communicate. E.g. the robots start welding only after the grippers are closed and the grippers open again only after the robots finished the welding.

Robots and PLCs are programmed independent from each other under different engineering groups which are a major issue which automotive companies face today. The communication between robots and PLCs is validated at the shop floor using the real hardware. This is a critical situation as it is just a few weeks before the start of production and arising issues can put this date at risk and drive cost into the process. One solution is to simulate and optimize robots and PLCs in a virtual environment before the physical build of the production system. We call this Virtual Commissioning.

Several companies talked about the usage of digital manufacturing tools at the Digital Factory conference in Munich (Germany) which took place end of June. The engineering company EBZ SysTec talked about the validation and optimization of automated production lines using the Tecnomatix Virtual Commissioning solution. Stefan Linner, Vice President Tecnomatix Marketing, talks about the conference and especially about EBZ SysTec.

For more information about the use of Virtual Commissioning at EBZ SysTec just visit the Tecnomatix 9 homepage and go to the Tecnomatix 9 Resource Center at the bottom of the page.

Leave a Reply

This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at