Analyzing the Paradigm Shift from Production Scheduling to Simulation-Based Scheduling

Through the long centuries of man’s existence, man has always produced materials and products for specific uses. But at the turn of the 17th century, something interesting happened. Man had built industrial equipment for the first time which ushered in the age of industrialization. This age came with larger facilities dedicated to every aspect of the production lifecycle as we know it today. With these large facilities came the need to manage hundreds of workers, the transportation of materials, and the stages of production for a product. And as early as the 1800s, the need for production scheduling methodologies was apparent.

This need led to the development of scientific management processes by legendary figures such as Henry Gantt. In the 1800s, charts and manual data collection techniques were introduced to manage production scheduling challenges. Although these solutions worked perfectly with the industrial equipment and facilities of that age, advancements in production technology made them redundant by early 1900s.

Moving forward to the 80s, production scheduling was being defined as the process of planning to ensure the raw materials and production capacity within a facility are optimally allocated to meet demand. With time, this definition was updated to account for complex tradeoffs between competing priorities and the hundreds of varying relationships that occur on manufacturing shop floors.

To handle these complex trade-offs and production variables, advanced planning and production scheduling systems where developed. These systems or solutions were fondly called APS solutions and they accounted for the materials available for a production cycle, available labor and production capacity. APS systems successfully handled the scheduling of complex production processes by applying a constraint-based approach to scheduling. Thus, these tools created schedules for:

  • Capital-intensive production process where constraints such as equipment and plant capacity where constraints to deal with
  • Production processes where hundreds of components needed to be assembled when building the product.
  • Production processes with changing schedules which were not predicted at the beginning of the process.

The success of production scheduling systems also led to the creation of hundreds of enterprises offering APS solutions and services to ease complex scheduling activities. Other spin-off solutions such as customer relationship management applications and enterprise resource planning solution were also developed due to the success of production scheduling systems.

As with most great technological advancements, the traditional product scheduling solutions began to meet more complex situations than it could handle due to the changing manufacturing landscape. These changes are both technological and conceptual in nature. In terms of technology, the advent of Industrial Internet of Things, smart manufacturing equipment, and automation were changes traditional scheduling software could not deal with. While the conceptual changes include the need to account for all data produced on the shop floor, make predictive analysis, manage disruptions in real-time, and cybersecurity challenges among others. These changes limited the efficiency of production scheduling software in diverse ways which will be further explored.

The Limitations of Production Scheduling Solutions

The limitations of production scheduling tools are all due to the increased complexity of today’s manufacturing and industrial facilities, as well as, the demand for more insight by enterprises. These limitations include:

Flexibility Challenges

The ever-changing processes in modern manufacturing facilities and the introduction of new equipment and process to the shop floor must be integrated into a functional scheduling system. The ability of traditional production scheduling tools to adapt to these changes is limited which means the schedule they produced will be skewed.

Challenges Integrating Real-Time Occurrences

The effects of downtime in manufacturing and industrial facilities have been highlighted in hundreds of reports. Downtime can be caused by a variety of issues but for the topic of production scheduling, a machine going down in a shop floor is the perfect scenario. Production scheduling tools will struggle to predict this event or even take it into account to reschedule events in real-time.

Although production scheduling tools can create schedules that take into consideration defective equipment, they make use of approximated data. This means the schedule they produce are static in nature and would not take into consideration real-time data such as the location of the machine, output at its workstation etc.

Requires Numerous Adjustments

This constraint is a follow up to the challenges production scheduling tools have with integrating real-time occurrences. To prevent trashing the systems integrator must create multiple custom algorithms for different scenarios. This means the product scheduling tool takes these algorithms and try to apply them to a new problem within a facility. To accomplish it multiple adjustments must be made to the initial adjustment which defeats the ability to create reschedule in real-time. According to Oracle, this challenge means the traditional product scheduling tools will struggle with finding good solutions to scheduling problems even when they exist.

With these limitations, a new process to accurately manage production scheduling tasks was needed. This led to the paradigm shift from traditional production scheduling solutions to simulation-based scheduling. Simulation-based scheduling involves the imitation of the operation of a real-world process over time using a digital model. The process involves building a simulation model of the physical process and populating the model with the detailed events and processes that occur in the real-world. The simulation model can then be run to produce an optimized production schedule.

The Impact of Simulation-Based Scheduling

It is important to note that simulation-based scheduling can be handled in two ways. These are through a discrete event simulation and a continuous simulation process. The discrete event simulation models the operation of a manufacturing or industrial facility as a discrete sequence of events that occur with time. In this model, events occur at a particular instant in time and record the change of state in the facility.

On the other hand, continuous simulation models continuously track the events and the changes they produce in the facility. Both the discrete event simulation and continuous simulation model take production scheduling to heights traditional production scheduling tools cannot reach. This paradigm shift has made real-time production scheduling more accurate and flexible enough to deal with the changes that occur in modern facilities.

As stated earlier, the introduction of production scheduling tools led to the development of other complementary technology solutions and this is also the case for simulation-based scheduling. One such concept is simulation-based Digital Twin solutions. The Digital Twin involves the mirroring of physical objects to create a virtual model through simulation-based engineering tools.

The ability to create Digital Twins of every facility and industrial process also takes simulation-based scheduling to new heights. Creating virtual mirrors of real-time systems or facilities and simulate the complex process that occurs in these facilities to create a far more accurate schedule than traditional production scheduling tools.

In the case off dealing with downtime, simulation-based digital twin environments can collect data from real-world sensors and use the data to predict asset –manufacturing equipment—behavior. This allows for the scheduling process to account for defective equipment and quickly reschedule the production process around the defective equipment. Also, simulation-based scheduling tools can manage what-if scenarios better than the alternative. Making it possible for operations teams to simulate possible challenges and create optimized schedules that take these constraints into consideration.

An example of how simulation-based scheduling alongside digital twin technology has been used to develop more efficient schedules. Is in the case of CKE Restaurants. Here, a Digital Twin of the restaurant facilities made it possible to create implementation schedules, supply and delivery schedules in its kitchen facilities. The end result was a more efficient production and service process driven by simulation-based scheduling and Digital Twin solutions.

How Simulation-Based Scheduling Transverses through Diverse Industries

Traditional production scheduling tools were designed and developed primarily for use in manufacturing settings and this still remains its key area of application. Unlike production scheduling, simulation-based scheduling can be integrated into any industrial process to produce accurate schedules.

Once again, its affinity with Digital Twin technology makes this possible. This is because, with digital twin technology, every process and asset in an industrial setting can be modeled and brought into a digital environment. The integration of simulation-based software in this digital environment can then simulate the industrial process and create schedules for them. Simulation-based scheduling can be used in the healthcare industry, pharmaceutical facilities, dockyards, ports, and in every facility where a process can be modeled and mapped.

The rise of Industry 4.0 manufacturing facilities and processes where data is king provides another avenue for simulation-based scheduling to prosper. Smart factories are being run by machines and devices with sensors, embedded systems, and system on modules solutions. This makes it possible to assess data from every asset and process in a facility.

Simulation-based scheduling software can leverage the data collected in an Industry 4.0 – compliant facilities to create real-time schedules. Computing simulations of schedules can also be achieved in real-time with increased accuracy due to the widespread availability of data in facilities that integrate Industry 4.0.

Simulation-Based Scheduling and the Road Ahead

The paradigm shifts from production scheduling solutions to simulation-based scheduling is still very much an on-going journey. This is due to emerging technologies which complement and enhance the use of simulation-based scheduling software. Examples include the rise of cloud-computing and high-performing computers (HPCs). These technologies make it possible to create models of very complex systems such as facilities or processes with thousands of variables while producing accurate scheduled for them.

The combination of these technological process will enhance real-time scheduling and rescheduling as we know it. As simulation-based schedule software leverage on the cloud and HPCs, complex simulations can be done in micro-seconds thereby delivering accurate real-time results that enhance productivity in industries. Thus completing the paradigm shift from manual and constraint-based scheduling to a responsive real-time scheduling era.

How to Sell the Idea of Digital Twin to Your Manager

The business world as we know it is changing. Never have there been so many emerging technologies, models, and business concepts competing for the attention of the business community. Today, we have cloud computing services, the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Automation, Blockchains, and the Digital Twin providing timely business insights for enterprises. This is why the internet and even physical business entities have hundreds of salesmen and women trooping in and out of your private space. Selling the ‘next best thing’ in technology like pharmaceuticals marketers do, to CTOs, CIOs, and other decision-makers.

 In this whirlwind of changing activities and millions of ads advertising the best technology solutions is Digital Twin technology. For those who know the benefits of the Digital Twin and its ability to enhance every aspect of an enterprise’s operation, the challenge of convincing management to take a chance with it remains. This leaves one with the question of what are the best techniques to sell the idea of integrating Digital Twin technology to the boss? As with most sales challenges, the traditional answer generally involves listing its value-added propositions and outlining the returns to be made investing in the technology.

Although the traditional answer to selling new ideas to management remains efficient, the increased competition among cutting edge tech services means more selling points are needed. Thus, to effectively answer the question ‘how do I sell the idea of Digital Twin technology to management’, here are some new and timely tips to consider.

5 Tips for Selling the Idea of Integrating Digital Twin Technology to Decision-makers

As a sales representative, business development, or system integrator staff/employee who is part of a team, the successful introduction of new technology solutions depends on your approach. This is because you will serve as the driving force behind ensuring the implementation of Digital Twin technology improves the company’s operational processes to deliver optimal services to customers. The tips for selling the idea of Digital Twin Technology include:

Making Your Case with Data – The task of convincing those who control the money and decide what investments are to be made is not for the faint-hearted. You must come prepared and one of the ways to prepare for every question that may come your way is having the required data in place that answers the most important questions. According to a Mckinsey report, integrating data analytics in the right place or in your sales pitch is one way to convince skeptics on the importance of Digital Twin technology. The data to be included must be relevant to the situation or scenario you intend to create when selling Digital Twin Technology. To simplify your search for adequate information, here are some of the data you will need:

  • To answer the question of the adoption rate and how the competition intends to use Digital Twin technology to enhance business operations, the IDC data on adoption can help. The IDC forecasts that 40% of IoT platform vendors and 70% of manufacturers will be making use of Digital Twin technology by 2022.
  • If the question of how digital twin technology can help increase the revenue of the business, data from the Juniper Research can help you answer the question. According to the research, the use of Digital Twin technology has helped enterprises increase their revenue by 25 to 35%. This is due to the ease in which business insights can be gotten from complex processes and the predictive analytical features of Digital Twin technologies.

Armed with this information, your sale pitch will highlight the importance of staying ahead of the competition by integrating Digital Twin technology to simplify complex processes and difficult business decisions. It can also be applied to drive development and predict future scenarios in a wide variety of industries including manufacturing, architecture, construction, technology, engineering, and healthcare industries.

Make Use of Case Study – With your data in place, the next step to convincing decision-makers in your organization is through the provision of confirmable case studies on how Digital Twin technology can help. This is where a little personal effort comes into play if interested in creating personalized case studies for stakeholders to scrutinize. You can find applicable case studies that highlight how Digital Twin technology has been applied and is still been applied by your competitors here:

  • You can find case studies on the application of Digital Twin technology in the aviation industry, automotive industry, manufacturing, healthcare, mining, and engineering at Simio’s resource center. The case studies here are practical examples that can be integrated into your presentation when making your sales pitch.
  • If you are certain a pitch with case studies may not be enough, then more effort is needed from your end. This effort involves the design of a Digital Twin of a phase of your facilities operations to showcase the benefits of a digital model of physical systems where events can be simulated. Many Digital Twin technology providers offer free trials which can be used to accomplish this task. You can make a request for a Simio Demo to quickly kick start the process of designing a Digital Twin.
  • Provide specific answers to your enterprise or the enterprise’s pain points. Once again, although case studies may be customized to show how Digital Twin technology alleviate business challenges, creating a functional model will do more to pass the message across.

So, the second tip here is making use of case studies to address exactly how Digital Twin technology can be used to eliminate specific challenges an enterprise experiences. The efficient use of case studies is one of the quickest ways to get the ball rolling when trying to sell Digital Twin solutions to the decision-makers in your organization.  

Showcase the ROI – It is a well-known fact that one of the most publicized benefits of Digital Twin technology is the returns it offers enterprises who choose to invest in it. Also, your manager, as well as, stakeholders would definitely expect a breakdown of how much the investment will cost and the returns to expect. It is important to have this in mind because, finances are generally the deciding factor that determines if a positive decision will be made.

According to research by High Tech Software Cluster, the threshold for integrating Digital Twin technology for enterprises costs approximately €50, 000 ($55,000). The study goes on to show that to create digital twin solutions for more complex systems may cost approximately €150, 000 or $165,000. As stated earlier, the returns on this investment can be as much as 35% of the total cost needed to create a Digital Twin. In some cases, returns of approximately 50% have also been reported which highlights the financial leverage Digital Twin technology offers enterprises.

As you probably know, approximations are not enough to sway managers and other decision-makers. This means more exact figures that showcase the total cost of owning a Digital Twin of complex process is needed to successfully sell the idea to management. Calculating the total cost of ownership can be done using an estimate calculator. The estimate calculator is capable of calculating the cost of purchasing the necessary hardware, software packages, energy costs, and other costs associated with owning Digital Twin technologies.

It is also important to highlight any supporting technologies that will be needed for data collection if an accurate Digital Twin is to be developed. These technologies may include embedded systems in manufacturing equipment, IoT devices, cloud computing services to scale simulations, and augmented reality devices. These complementary technologies and services may also add to the bottom line of designing a functional Digital Twin environment of complex systems. Thus, using the estimate calculator to highlight the ROI of creating a Digital Twin is one of the major steps that must be taken to convince management about the need for a Digital Twin.

Ask the Right Questions – During strategy sessions, some push backs are expected and this will definitely be the case when selling the idea of a Digital Twin to enhance business operations. This push back should be expected even after using data to answer questions, creating case studies or applicable scenarios, and defining the return on the investment made. When the expected push back occurs, the best way to understand how management thinks and the challenges they foresee is by asking questions. Asking the right questions provides you with the foundation needed to provide the answers needed to convert non-believers into believers.

The questions to ask are varied and should be determined by the level of skepticism shown by particular decision-makers. Some of the questions you must ask to assess the mindset of your superiors include:

  • Do you need more information to make a decision and what information do you need? The purpose of asking this question is to have an idea about what your audience or manager is thinking. Remember that IT managers are notoriously skeptical about new technology therefore, having an understanding of the prejudices management has against Digital Twin technology is important.
  • I know you love the way things are going, but would you be interested in a 6-month trial? If the feedback you get from the manager and decision-makers is negative due to their satisfaction with how things are within the company, this question might help break the ice. Satisfaction with the present condition of things can dampen the enthusiasm for Digital Twin technology. But pushing for a trial could be the turning point that turns ‘no’ into a ‘yes’.
  • If it helps you surpass your personal targets will you try it? It may come as a surprise to you that managers think more about self-preservation than the success of a business. This is one reason why your manager may be resistant to change. Thus, making your questions a bit personal and putting the manager’s self-interest first may be the strategy that gets him/her to experiment with Digital Twin technology.

These questions should be asked without sounding too pushy to your manager and other decision-makers. This is because a pushy attitude could be interpreted as a desperate attempt to make some money for yourself on the side.

Associate the Integration of Digital Twin with Achieving Business Goals – Finally, the ace in your back pocket should be tying the integration of Digital Twin technology to the ideology of the enterprise. This includes highlighting how Digital Twin can be used to realize the business’s mission statement or meet certain key performance index (KPIs). With the answers to the questions asked above, accomplishing this task should be a bit easier than the first steps of selling the idea to management.

Your ability to showcase the benefits of Digital Twin technology and how it meets your company’s culture or KPIs is determined by your knowledge about the transformative powers of the technology. To accomplish this, a lot of research is needed to know more about how this emerging technology can be applied to your business case. Once again, you can turn to the information highlighted in these tips to refine your pitch to resell the idea of integrating Digital Twin technology to your manager. For more information, you can also choose to attend conferences centered around the adoption of Digital Twin technology in your industry.

The Benefits of Digital Twin Technologies is Worth the Extra Effort

Digital Twin technologies create value in diverse ways that can ease the effort expended doing your job. Some of the more important benefits include:

  • Descriptive Values – The ability to visualize the status of an asset in real-time via its Digital Twin is valuable when those assets or facilities are either remote, complex, or dangerous. In plants and other facilities, a Digital Twin makes information easily accessible for interpretation and to make business decisions.
  • Diagnostic and Standardization Value – In facilities where hundreds of variables are involved with production, Digital Twin technology can be used to stabilize these variables, pinpoint the root cause of problems, and leverage analytics to standardize complex systems.
  • Predictive Value – Industry-leading enterprises like General Electric have used Digital Twin technologies to improve efficiency and the output of plants. This was accomplished using a Digital Twin to propose solutions that can lead to customer satisfaction and profitability.

You can learn more about getting started with Digital Twin technology in your facilities, plants, and business by speaking to a Simio engineer today.

Scheduling in the Industry 4.0

Today started badly.

As soon as I hopped into my car, the GPS system was flashing red to show queues of stationary traffic on my regular route to the office. Thankfully, the alternative offered allowed me to arrive on time and keep my scheduled appointments.

In the same way as a GPS combines live traffic data with an accurate map of the city, Simio Software connects real time data sources with a modeled production situation. Just like a GPS, Simio can also impose rules, make decisions, schedule and reschedule.

The major difference is in the scale.

Simio Simulation and Scheduling Software can model entire factories, holding huge quantities of detailed data about each resource, component and material. It leverages big data analysis to run thousands of permutations of scenarios, finding the optimum outcomes for specific circumstances. Lightning fast, it can detect and respond to changes with suggestions that will keep everything flowing in the best possible way.

Thank goodness for Simio, because Industry 4.0 is here.

Smart Factories employ fully integrated and connected equipment and people, each providing real time feedback about their state. Data is constantly collected on each product component, for process monitoring and control. Every aspect of the entire operation is managed through its associated specifications and status data. This large, constant stream of information coming from a known factory configuration can be received, stored, processed and reported upon by the powerful Simio software.

With Industry 4.0, nothing is left to chance. Everything is monitored and optimized, and performance is predicted, measured, improved and adapted on an ongoing basis. Management of so many interconnected components requires a scheduling system that is specifically designed to operate in this dynamic data environment. Simio Production Scheduling Software can be relied upon to provide the integrated solution for enabling technology in the Smart Factories of the future.

We are already seeing a rise in robotics and the increasing digitalization of the manufacturing industry under the effects of Industry 4.0. Soon all components of the factory model will be interconnected, just like my future driverless car that will communicate directly with my GPS to take the best route using current traffic information.

All I will have to do is sit back and enjoy the ride.