IDC Expands Software Solutions With 3D Simulation & Emulation Platform

The software platform enables System Integrators and Logistics Warehouse Operators to visualise, validate and optimise warehouse automation plans before implementation.

The huge increase of e-commerce in recent years has presented major challenges to businesses looking to improve and expand their logistics and eFulfilment operations.

Manual processes are being replaced for picking, packing, labelling and wrapping operations with robotics and automation.

Key business decisions need to be taken on the design plans and type of automation equipment to be used to achieve throughput rates without bottlenecks and buffering issues. Operational teams need to ensure that any new process layout will have the ability to cope with the increased production schedules and access the impact of any changes in future product profiles.

IDC simulation software helps to address these issues and mitigate risk by providing a virtual 3D scale model or your project plan in a digital environment. You can safely explore the impact of design changes to the layout and modes of operation.

Furthermore, the Simulation tool leverages the enormous advances in software graphics and computer processing power providing the ability configure and run different models at high speed in multiples of real-time to produce performance data for each scenario in minutes rather than days.

CAD files of mechanical automation equipment can be imported to create configurable modules along with building structures and high-bay storage racking. Other operations can also be visualised including forklift trucks movements and manual tasks such as pallet building.

Parameter variables can be changed including product sizes, production schedules, order data, and staffing levels to visualise and evaluate capacity and performance and optimise the final design.

However, deciding on the optimum mechanical handling design is only half the story. The Simulation Software directly interfaces with Siemens Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) which are widely used in automation control systems. IDC has standardised on the use of Siemens PLCs for all automation projects and have a large library of software control modules which have been continually been refined and improved over several years.

The PLC- Simulation interface provides the ability for the PLC software to control the simulation model in real-time, enabling the development and testing of the control system in a virtual factory environment. For MHE Systems Integrators this means they can witness test their project control system for operational performance and exception testing. This can be extended to include emulation and testing of other IT systems including Warehouse Management Systems and ERP Systems for end-to-end testing of the complete system such before any on-site commissioning begins. Where existing systems are being modified the simulation then allows training of operators and team leaders before production recommences.

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