Simio Showcases the Digital Twin at INFORMS Annual Meeting 2019 – A Recap

The INFORMS Annual Meeting for 2019 has come and gone with multiple keynotes shared, workshop activities, and hundreds of excellent companies sharing their experiences and solutions from brightly colored booths. Once again, Simio was at the thick of things evangelizing the benefits of simulation and Digital Twin technology to the world. As with all annual meetings, the focus was on the strides been made in operational research and analytics. And the meeting provided the chance to explore emerging technologies and its applications across all ‘works of life’.

The term ‘all works of life’ wasn’t used lightly as sessions covering social media analytics and e-learning to applying analytics to human trafficking were explored. As for Simio, our role was somewhere in the middle and as stated earlier, our participation was centered around the digital twin. But before going into details of how the event panned out and Simio’s roles, here is an outline of what the INFORMS Annual Meeting is about for interested individuals.

INFORMS Annual Meeting

INFORMS which stands for the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences is an umbrella organization for professionals plying their trade in operations research and analytics. INFORMS currently boasts of approximately 12,500 members across the globe which highlights its global or international reach.

The organization also sets standards and guidelines to ensure research and analytics within its field are ethically done. To bring its thousands of members together under one roof, the INFORMS Annual Meeting event was created and it holds once a year. The event features keynote sessions, workshops, publication presentations, and an exhibition area for member and enterprises to showcase their wares.

The INFORMS Annual Meeting also coincides with its community service drive to assist non-profit organizations with meeting their obligations. This is done through the INFORMS Pro Bono Analytics section of the organization. If you are wondering why the information about Pro Bono Analytics is included here, then I ask for patience as it will all make sense in the end.

Now to the annual meeting of 2019!

The 2019 INFORMS Annual Meeting was a 3-day event which ran from the 20th of October to the 23rd. This year’s event was definitely a success as more than 5,000 people breezed through the different sessions, exhibition areas, workshops, and lunch areas throughout the 3-day event. The convention center buzzed with activities through these days and we are proud to say Simio capitalized on these activities in different ways. Our participation included a dedicated Simio booth highlighting the use of Simio digital twin technology, a session handled by Jason, and workshop presentations from Renee.

Keynote Sessions and Workshops of Note at the INFORMS Annual Meeting

Tens of session covering operations research and analytics were covered throughout the event which makes mentioning and discussing every one of them impossible. So, the focus will be on simulation, digital transformation, cloud computing, and digital twin sessions.

One of the exciting sessions within the above category was the session about the computational infrastructure for operations research, COIN-OR, initiative. The IBM project focuses on providing open-source technologies solely for computational operations research. The end goal is to provide an open-source library of tools which will ensure researches do not have to start from scratch when handling complex research. This creates a foundation that will be built on and maintained by researchers over the years.

The session ‘Robust Optimization and Learning Under Uncertainty’ was also interesting as it discussed the challenges stakeholders face with decision-making and policy creation. Han Yu, a PhD student at the University of California spoke about how important data collection, and an understanding of history should drive real-world decision-making. The session also discussed how modeling and robust optimization techniques can enhance the decision-making process.

Other notable sessions highlighted or raised questions about the role digital twin and simulation could play in enhancing agriculture and the healthcare industry. According to Greg from Syngenta, AI, computer vision, and bioINFORMSatics modelling currently assist Syngenta with making data-driven seed selections and breeding. This raises the question of the role of the digital twin in agriculture which may be explored in other blog posts.

In the ‘Healthcare Modeling and Optimization’ session, Dr. Zlatana Nenova spoke about the role modeling and data analytics play in improving healthcare. Her speech also touched on the use of digital technology to analyze medical care policies for both off and on-site healthcare delivery. In terms of on-site healthcare, there are certainly diverse ways the healthcare industry can benefit from digital twin technology. Although this was not covered in this year’s event, it highlights the possibilities of applying digital twin to the healthcare industry.

Simio’s Events at the INFORMS Annual Meeting

Now, to Simio and our role at the INFORMS conference. In last year’s event, Ms. Renee Thiesing, the VP of Strategic Alliances,  spoke excellently on the role Simio plays in driven discrete event simulation and the digital transformation of brownfield systems as the move to Industry 4.0 continues. She also highlighted the importance of real-time event scheduling and how Simio can help enterprises solve real-time scheduling challenges using Simio.

In this year’s event, Ms. Renee built on her earlier foundation by focusing on the digital twin capabilities of Simio and its application in diverse industries. Her session titled ‘New Innovations: Cloud Computing, Real-Time Scheduling, Industry 4.0 and more’ discussed how Simio leverages cloud computing to deliver high-performing scheduling and simulations.

Through the session, she discussed how Simio leverages the computing power of Microsoft Azure to support complex applications. Simio’s compatibility with Schneider Electric’s Wonderware was also discussed in detail. This includes the leveraging of Wonderware to achieve detailed production scheduling in real-time, as well as, manage real-time risk analysis. The new Simio features such as Simio’s cloud portal and OptQuest were also covered during her workshop. She highlighted OptQuest abilities to optimize scheduling and simulation with the aim of delivering optimal solutions to complex business problems.

Jason Ceresoli also spoke on the benefits of using Simio’s 3D modelling capabilities to solve real—world problems. His presentation covered Simio’s features for system design and operation. Practical examples of how Simio’s rapid 3D modeling, planning and scheduling, and optimization capabilities can be used by enterprises were also discussed by Jason. Finally, his session highlighted the difference between Simio and other simulation tools with a focus on how professional researchers and analysts can use these features. 

Our participation at the INFORMS Annual Meeting will not be complete without recounting our experiences at booth 28 in the exhibition area. The targeted message used in the Simio booth drew its own audience of professionals, entrepreneurs and business representatives interested in the digital twin. This gave us the opportunity to showcase Simio’s features and real-world applications to interested individuals. We can categorically say our booth played a role in the sales leads and opportunities we got from the event.

Simio and the Pro Bono Analytics Event

I remember introducing you to the INFORMS Pro Bono Analytics and now here we are! This year, Pro Bono Analytics partnered with a Seattle-based non-profit organization, FareStart, to assist individuals interested in building careers in food service and culinary arts. At this year’s INFORMS Annual Meeting, Simio alongside other participants made donations to the FareStart initiative.

The event was a success and according to Elise Tinseth, Community Engagement Manager with FareStart, shared, “The INFORMS Pro Bono micro-volunteer opportunity of creating hygiene kits is impactful to eliminating barriers our students who are experience poverty and homelessness have to getting jobs in the food service industry.’ She also thanked everyone who made out time and donated resources to help FareStart meet its goals.

INFORMS Annual Meeting Awards and the Future

And lastly, the INFORMS Annual Meeting Awards. Although Simio did not bag any of the awards, the pomp and pageantry, as well as, the strides made by researchers are worthy of a mention in this post. Hopefully, the prize for teaching operations research and management science may be ours. That being said, the 2019 event was a success and Simio will continue to be a part of the INFORMS Annual meeting for the foreseeable future.

Production Planning Software and Industry 4.0

The latest era of industrial revolution – Industry 4.0 connects and revolutionizes various aspects of the industry including manufacturing processes as well as business processes such as supply chain. The increasing demand of customized product from the customer end is a major driving theme of this transformation in the industry. The traditional processes are highly efficient for batch production and low cost scaling in bulk manufacturing but are relatively time consuming inefficient for manufacturing customized products. Similar is the case for the business processes and models that being used around this manufacturing style. There is need of new production planning style which can simulate the costs, efficiency and resource requirements in real time for any product for mass customization.Industry 4.0 uses Cyber Physical Systems (CPS) and Internet of Things (IoT) to introduce technological and human improvements, which ultimately results in enhanced productivity, product quality with reduced manufacturing time and product price. Hence, the requirement of an advanced production planning and scheduling scheme becomes paramount. In this article,we will discuss how production planning can be implemented in Industry 4.0 and the ways in which it will help manufacturers of any and every product to adapt easily to customer demands and transition smoothly into the upcoming industrial economy.

Industry 4.0 brings along the requirement of new process and production planning where most of the working environment is automatized and the data recorded is processed using fog computing, on-premise clouds or cloud computing servers. Machine to Machine communication is expected to increase more than ever. These changes raise some critical questions and concerns regarding the manufacturing and planning processes:

  • Is it possible to completely automatize production planning using CPS and IoT?
  • Can human knowledge be translated into future products?

The role of Production Planning Software in Industry 4.0 will be to address these concerns effectively and ensure that the decision making processes involved in process selection, resource allocation, operation sequence and scheduling and sufficiently automatized with knowledge importer from previous processes. This should then result in the modeling of the future product including customer based customization demands as well.

Traditional process planning being used in many industries presently is completely based only on the knowledge and experience of the individual or team working on the system. The people working on the systems are technology experts from experience rather than knowledge. The existing demand for change to the new technology solutions can be a big transition for such individuals. This might slow down the progress of these industries, especially SMEs which are slower in the adaptation process. Hence, it is important for each industry to build their own strategy to implement Industry 4.0.

All the manufacturing resources in the industry are now connected to data and information exchange enabling better quality and process control. Scheduling of the product manufacturing and supply chain are being solved by using dynamic scheduling with the help of Structure Dynamics Control (SDC). Data and knowledge is transformed to software that makes a decision based on the technical specification of the order and available material combinations. This type of process planning has been adopted completely in very few industrial processes such as welding.It is still a challenge for many manufacturers to figure out what would be the optimal technique if an industry manufactures various products with different set of technologies. Also, the scaling of this single technology-single product scheme( e.g. welding) might not be easy on multiple types of products. Visualization of the process and predetermining the resource requirements will become more important. Simulation of the complete Production Planning using real time data can be an effective solution to this problem.Let us see how a product planning software can make the manufacturing process ’smarter’.

”Smart products” enable an industry to include information about customization demands of the consumer,collect feedback which can then be used in knowledge databases used in the various phases product design, development and manufacturing process. These include process planning, operation sequencing and scheduling. The collaboration of various product parameters and consumer needs in each stage of product development cycle allows the manufacturer to continuously improve the product quality and optimize the manufacturing costs effectively in real time. This results in an overall better product from both consumer and manufacturer’s point of view. Product Planning Software enable this whole cycle managing various processes starting from material selection, shape, geometry, operation priority, time of operation, machine cost and avail- ability and many more. The Product Planning can also be linked to the ERP( Enterprise Resource Planning Software) in the cloud to include insights and data to other parts of product lifecycle resulting in a better product with every iteration.

A good production planning software that automatizes the various tasks of the product development cycle is a must for mass customization and improved efficiency in Industry 4.0. Thus, it can be easily concluded that a good Planning Production Software will form a critical building block of the industry in Industry 4.0.