Automated Generation of Discrete Event System Simulation Models for Flexible Automation
Paper in proceedings, 2011
Flexible automation cells with rapid product changes are an important competitive advantage for industries today. These cells can increase a company’s productivity and thereby increase their profits. A flexible cell shall be able to handle different products with none or minimal changes to the cell itself. A powerful tool, which can be used to analyse and verify such cells, is discrete event system simulation. Problems such as potential bottlenecks, deadlocks, answers to "what-if" questions and the level of resource utilisation can be gathered. The drawback of discrete event system simulation is that the modelling task is both time consuming and difficult to accomplish. Furthermore, state-of-the-art discrete event system simulation tools that are used in the industry today are not suitable for flexible automation. If the production scenario is changed, e.g. introduction of a new product, the simulation and modelling has to be redone and this is both time consuming and tedious. In this paper a new approach will be presented that enables discrete event simulation models to be generated automatically. The models are generated from information retrieved from a PLM/PDM database system, which is shared among other engineering tools such as robot simulation, CAD and process planning. Hence, when the cell and the database are updated a new model can easily be generated. The database is also connected to the real cell so up-to-date data can be retrieved from the real cell. The model generator described in this paper was implemented and tested in a discrete event system simulation tool and showed promising results. With this approach it is possible to handle flexible automation cells more effectively in a process planning stage.