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By George Adinamis

Modeling and Simulation is defined as an “imitation of the operation of a real-world process or system” [1]. In other words, a simulation in practice is a way to evaluate virtual scenarios using a process model to mitigate the risk of an investment.  This means that Manufacturers can fail quickly and inexpensively without it affecting their bottom line.

Modeling and Simulation can be viewed by manufacturers as a set of tools that can be applied throughout the “Manufacturing Product Life-Cycle”. They support virtually every step from initial design to the manufacturing processes and final inspection. Modeling and Simulation alone can’t fix all your problems but when used correctly can greatly enhance your process.

For instance, major investments are made along the Manufacturing Product Life-Cycle such as implementing an assembly line or machining work cell. Simulation software can help prevent costly errors by helping manufacturers get things right the first time by preventing costly errors that can lead to downtime and alleviating the pain of having to move equipment until you get the plan just right. Such disruptions can have a significant impact on quality, and on-time delivery.

When it comes to product design and tooling, there are many options for CAD/CAM, and Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) systems. However, some of these top level CAD systems can be cost prohibitive for many small to mid-sized manufacturers and job shops. About half of companies worldwide are using or considering cloud-based CAD [3]. Cloud-based systems may be able to provide cost effective solutions with enough functionality for job shops. There are cloud-based options for CAE as well, some of which can enable design engineers to conduct analysis of structural mechanics and fluid/thermal dynamics through a web browser portal at a low cost (or even for free).

In addition to just CAD/CAM and CAE Modeling Software, there are CNC simulation tools available that can help verify setup and tool paths for machining operations on high value parts. This type of solutions can validate a CNC program by looking at the G-CODE directly to capture potential interference points or errors in post processing from CAM programs. Machine simulations can potentially prevent costly machine tool crashes, tool breakages and part gouging that can cost thousands of dollars in scrap and damage to a CNC machine tool.

There are also many types of manufacturing simulation systems capable of testing multiple production scenarios to include digital representation or even digital twin modeling. Some of these simulation tools place emphasis on real-time simulation of material handling scenarios through 3D animations, while others may specialize in Virtual Commissioning by interacting with real PLC systems in order to validate control systems without risk to the production schedule. Some consulting companies use manufacturing simulation software to model and conduct discrete event simulations for manufacturers who don’t have the time for training. Whatever the need you may have, Modeling and Simulation can be a versatile tool to improve your business no matter the size.

A Modeling and Simulation session will be a part of TechSolve’s Modeling, Simulation & IIoT Seminar scheduled for the morning of January 30th. Speakers will present more details on the above in a conversational and understandable session designed to give the average shop manager a vision and direction of how to begin adopting these software. To learn more and reserve your seat you can click here.



[1] Banks, J., Carson, J. S., Nelson, B. L., & Nicol, D. (2010). Discrete-Event System Simulation. (5 ed.) Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

[2] Warfiled, Bob, “CNCCookbook 2017 CAD Survey Results [+Customer Satisfaction Awards]”, CNCCookbook, www.cnccookbook.com/cnccookbook-2017-cad-survey-results

[3] Johnson, N. S., CAD in the Cloud: Modest Adoption Levels Persist. Cadalyst, (Apr. 6, 2017) www.cadalyst.com/cloud-based-cad/cad-cloud-modest-adoption-levels-persist-33266