Heads Up: Why Cloud-Based Manufacturing Simulation Systems Make Sense—and Save Dollars

Simulations have become an essential tool for mapping out automated manufacturing processes and planning tasks ranging from robotic assembly to palletization. Companies have come to recognize how much time and money they risk losing through poor, inaccurate planning of their manufacturing processes. In turn, the market has responded by developing and offering a variety of technological solutions to address these needs.

The International Federation of Robotics estimates that by 2022, almost 4 million industrial robots will work in factories worldwide, a trend that has mushroomed over the years and is expected to continue full force in light of the coronavirus pandemic and fears about outbreaks in factories and industrial settings that involve many people working in close quarters.

With this growing demand for robotics, simulation systems play an increasingly central and important role. Manufacturers can’t afford to fall behind and risk cost, quality, injuries, or breaches over sloppy, incomplete, or inaccurate planning.

Enter cloud-based systems

Cloud-based simulation systems offer a tremendous advantage over traditional desktop applications. For one, cloud systems are often safer to operate, with baked-in security that is frequently evaluated and updated, something that is less likely to happen on a desktop. When issues are identified, security patches and solutions can be pushed more easily to cloud-based systems than to desktop applications, thus saving time and preventing devastating breaches or costly manufacturing mistakes.

With more and more people working remotely—probably permanently—due to the pandemic, cloud-based systems offer unprecedented flexibility, as they can be loaded and worked on from anywhere, on almost any device. The accessibility offered by the cloud makes collaboration smooth and easy, too.   

Unlike costly software licenses, cloud-based simulation systems also present new pricing models that can translate into serious savings for companies. Modular systems that offer paid add-ons or pay-per-use models can increase efficiency and reduce costs for organizations, allowing them to spend only on what they really use. In most cases, they can pay for additional functionality as needed and scale back if they realize after some time that certain add-on features were superfluous. Similarly, many cloud-based systems operate on a “freemium” model or offer a free trial that lets users determine whether the system actually addresses their needs and provides value before taking the plunge. The reduced costs also extend to IT, with the cloud offering lower costs for storage, backups, continuous upgrades, and continuous deployment.

In many cases, the seamless integration of cloud-based simulations systems with other tools and systems makes it possible to run simulations faster and evaluate their relationships and impact on other processes more extensively than ever before. This saves precious time and dollars.

Tools for process planning and simulation have changed the automated manufacturing game for good, with cloud-based simulation systems serving as the next-generation framework that has catapulted it to the next level. Industrial robots aren’t going anywhere, and neither, it seems, are the simulation systems responsible for bringing them to life efficiently, effectively, and successfully.

Meet SimuLite – Supporting sales teams from the very early stages of a project lifecycle

One example of a cloud-based planning and simulation solution is Siemens SimuLite. This solution lets sales teams and engineers to design a manufacturing process concept in just a few hours, rather than the days or weeks required to achieve similar results with other tools. System integrator sales teams can use SimuLite to shorten the sales cycle time by quickly designing a process concept, sharing it with their clients, comparing concept alternatives, automatically generating a cost report and using built-in throughput analysis to learn about potential challenges. An early concept planning of a production line may increase line efficiency, reduce planning and commissioning costs, and increase client confidence.

SimuLite supports its users during concept design based on a predefined set of rules and logic elements. The system automatically defines process sequence, saving the user significant time by eliminating tedious and repetitive tasks. For example, if a line includes a part on a conveyor, a robot with a mounted gripper, a processing machine near the end of the conveyor, and another conveyor next to it, SimuLite automatically assumes that the process is: the part moves along the conveyor to the end, is taken by robot to the machine, the machine processes the part, and finally the robot takes the part out of the machine and places it on the other conveyor. SimuLite understands and assumes this independently, without any involvement by the user, and then simulates it in the 3D environment, saving the user a tremendous amount of time. (Of course, the user can also make any adjustments as needed.)

SimuLite’s rich standard library parts, such as robots, grippers, logistics elements, transportation types, and interiors, help users focus on the process concept, cost, physical constraints of the floor, and production KPIs rather than wasting time downloading various 3D objects from public web sites, dealing with data conversion, and modeling missing equipment elements that are required for the line.

Get early access to SimuLite and try it out for yourself by signing up here