As Industry 4.0 progresses and more companies introduce more transformative technologies in industrial applications, the demand for ways to test the impact of those technologies in the digital world before implementing them in the real world will continue to rise.
Plant simulation software for production and processes can help meet this demand by using computer models to show how investing in new equipment or technology could impact operations. Plant simulation software is slowly gaining traction and revenues will reach US$4.1 billion by 2030, finds ABI Research, a market-foresight advisory firm providing strategic guidance on the most compelling transformative technologies.
“Most industrial companies and industrial engineers still try to solve problems one-by-one,” explained Ryan Martin, Principal Analyst at ABI Research. “For instance, they try to figure out how many Automatic Guided Vehicles (AGVs) they need, then they try to figure out what type of robot to purchase, then they try to figure out where to place the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines, and so forth. Plant simulation software requires a more holistic and more collaborative approach.”
Fortunately for plant simulation software vendors (including AnyLogic, Arena, Aspen Technology, AVEVA, Dassault Systèmes, MathWorks, Siemens, and Simio), as the Industry 4.0 movement progresses, more industrial companies are creating technology transformation teams (aka Industry 4.0 teams, Advanced Manufacturing teams, Digital Technology teams, etc.). This means more companies are actively looking for new technologies to deploy and scale them with a more complete vision of how technology fits in with enterprise operations. As more companies form these teams, more will adopt simulation software for manufacturing systems.
Industrial companies have formed these technology transformation teams because the synergies between many emerging transformative technologies presented themselves. No single technology drives this movement, but simulation software holds the potential to act as a catalyst for a whole host of them. If simulation software can accurately predict the effects of other technologies on the core goals of manufacturers (i.e., more production, more uptime, improved time to market, improved quality, fewer delays, more efficiencies, greater utilization of assets, all at lower costs) then industrial companies will deploy more technologies at scale with greater confidence with fewer delays. Right now, industrial companies have an interest in many technologies such as 5G and private LTE (and other forms of connectivity), additive manufacturing, artificial intelligence applications, augmented reality applications, autonomous material handling robots and AGVs, CNCs and other reductive and casting manufacturing methods, cobots and industrial robots, location and asset management applications and metrology and inspection equipment on the line, but they often hesitate to deploy them without any assurance that they will provide the promised benefits. Simulation software can help provide that assurance by demonstrating different deployment scenarios or mixes of technologies on the factory floor.
Despite some progress including more technologies and models of equipment such as robots, vendors can still do more to include transformative technologies. “To get to the stage where plant simulation software accurately incorporates transformative technologies and stays a step ahead of the market while simplifying the user experience, vendors need to continuously hunt down new equipment and technology to include in the simulations, participate in more PoCs and pilots, and start incorporating machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques,” concluded Martin.
These findings are from ABI Research’s Manufacturing Plant Virtualization, Visualization and Simulation application analysis report.