Apr 02 2002

DELMIA and Opel Create the Digital Factory

 

Troy, Michigan, USA - April 2, 2002 – The futuristic vision of the digital factory has come a step closer to becoming reality.  This, in no small measure, is due to work by e-manufacturing solutions provider, DELMIA. <br/>

 

 

The extent to which these solutions affect the development of factories, is illustrated by the recent development at Adam Opel AG in Rüsselsheim. This plant has now come very close to its ultimate goal of the virtual factory. Here, highly trained employees build cars at low cost for a dynamic global market in both the real and virtual worlds. <br/>

 

 

Virtual production involves consistent planning, evaluation and control of production systems and plant using digital models. For this purpose, simulation techniques are networks utilizing a data management system and are shared by everyone involved by means of virtual reality (VR) technologies.<br/>

 

 

In the near future, it is envisioned that the tools used will allow the digital factory and all the products manufactured inside it -- together with their complete structures, the logistic procedures and technological processes -- to be reproduced in precise detail. This will allow products and production to be tested in virtual form and improved until a perfect process can be created for the real factory.<br/>

 

 

The new factory building in Rüsselsheim, where the newly developed, mid-range Vectra model went into production on January 7, 2002, is the first new construction project in the automotive industry on a site parallel to existing and ongoing production.  The plant cost around $ 3.0 billion US and will have an annual capacity of around 270,000 cars per year, which will be built on a joint production line in a three-shift operation. In what is probably the most modern automotive production plant in the world, Opel has enthusiastically adopted the “zero error principle". <br/>

 

 

Responsibility for the smooth start of the Vectra production is due in large part to the “bucket build” concept. Simply put, this approach relies on a staged, pre-production phase including many optimization cycles. <br/>

 

 

In the design and planning process for the new plant, Opel harnessed the power of a 3D animated plant and construction plans combined with innovative simulation tools.  These technologies have been deployed more extensively than ever before. The 3D computer animations almost exactly mirror reality, thus producing a level of reliability in the pre-production planning process that is superior to earlier methodology. <br/>

 

 

 

“One of the main areas of our work was the 3D representation of the assembly and material flow processes”, said Raimund Menges, Managing Director, DELMIA GmbH, Fellbach, Germany. “Material flow simulations using conventional tools only include a restricted number of specialists, so 3D projections on a large scale are inconceivable to non-specialists.”

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Some of the key DELMIA simulation tools used to address process planning at Rüsselsheim included QUEST®, ENVISION/ERGO™ and IGRIP®.  QUEST creates a 3D digital factory environment with the ability to simulate process flow and analysis, accuracy and profitability. This allowed for experimentation with parameters such as facility layout, resource allocation, kaizen practices, and alternate scheduling scenarios to prove out the best manufacturing processes.<br/>

 

 

ENVISION/ERGO was used to simulate all the manual-intensive workstations.  By using this product up front, engineers could virtually eliminate the time and cost of expensive tooling rework due to initial ergonomic design flaws.  And IGRIP®, a robotic simulation and off-line programming solution, was used to analyze the 600 robots stationed in the plant performing tasks such as laser welding and material handling of processed panels between workstations. <br/>

 

 

3D visualization systems proved to be enormously significant as a means of communication between the project planners and the top management. At the same time, it was also possible to include joint ventures with supplier businesses at a stage that was previously unheard of, creating binding tasks for each party to consider. <br/>

 

 

When DELMIA GmbH was born in 1999 from the merger of DELTA, DENEB and SAFEWORK, the company was able to build on its successful joint venture with General Motors/Opel. DENEB was included in the planning for the new Opel plant at a very early stage as a supplier of software and engineering services. <br/>