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The Smart Manufacturing Accelerator is an innovative framework, developed by the UK Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), designed to deliver integrated manufacturing and supply chain solutions that take advantage of the latest Industry 4.0 technologies. To demonstrate how these digital technologies work together, a Factory-in-a-Box (FIAB) has been built, showcasing a rapidly deployable and remotely managed production & supply chain solution.

As a technology partner of the MTC, Lanner’s predictive simulation capabilities were selected to deliver the predictive  digital twin capabilities for the project, highlighting the crucial role simulation has within the Industry 4.0 toolkit.

Lanner & the Smart Manufacturing Accelerator

Lanner supplied the Smart Manufacturing Accelerator (SMA) with our WITNESS platform. This included model development using our desktop studio, WITNESS Horizon, and access to cloud based simulation execution using WITNESS.io. The FIAB team integrated the predictive capabilities into their FIAB digital twin to plan optimised production before any parts manufacturing commences. The FIAB also has the ability to recalibrate should any exceptions occur during manufacture. By utilising a fully integrated Industry 4.0 solution, problems can be identified as they occur, resolved through experimentation with alternative simulated scenarios and then production rescheduled for an optimum throughput.

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Inside the Factory in a Box

Utilising WITNESS.io

Accurate data collection is integral to manufacturing projects and supports key planning and decision making. With the ever-increasing level of information and datapoints available, predictive simulations can cut through the data and allow insights and optimum configurations to be discovered. However, with the increasing flexibility and complexity of today’s supply chains and production environments, finding the right answers is requiring more experimentations and more simulations. To enable this, cloud technology can be used to speed up these processes significantly.

Lanner’s WITNESS.io offers simulation and experimentation as a cloud-based web service. Parametric scenarios can be configured and deployed to the cloud for execution on scalable simulation nodes. Results data can then be pulled back for analysis within the host environment, providing insight into much larger problem spaces to support more intelligent and informed decision making.

“Lanner is one of only a few organisations that offers cloud-based predictive simulation technology; this was one of the key reasons for engaging Lanner in the project, ” Matthew Gibbon, Senior Research Engineer at the MTC, explains: “Lanner’s cloud-based WITNESS.io web services meant that a lot of the integration could be handled automatically, removing the requirement to build custom functionality to support data analysis - this was a huge plus for us.”

“Our FIAB digital twin model developed using WITNESS Horizon, also makes reporting more efficient and accessible; simulation models would often be reserved for use by analysts, who would gather the necessary information upon request to then report back to project managers. The use of Lanner’s WITNESS platform makes this process much more accessible, giving the user complete insight into the data available, such as order completion timescales and risk of failure statistics, without having to be expert modelers.”

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Dashboard showing outputs from FIAB Digital Twin

Integrating WITNESS.io with GE’s Predix Platform

WITNESS.io is integrated with  GE’s Predix IoT Platform within the FIAB, supporting access to real-time status data and the visualisation of simulated data. This was something that Brian Reilly, Business Development at Lanner, recognises is integral within Industry 4.0;

“The Factory in a Box project was an opportunity to prove how integrating Lanner’s Predictive Simulation software with other leading Industry 4.0 providers can deliver more benefits to manufacturing organisations, and utilising cloud with other new and evolving technologies is fundamental.”

The application of Digital Twin technology also ensures that manufacturers utilising the FIAB will gain a level of insight and foresight to help solve specific and complex business challenges.

“The FIAB project demonstrates how future manufacturing can be responsive to demand, without being constrained to one, unmoveable location, and it creates an exciting opportunity for our industry,” says Brian.

Working with Lanner

“The team at Lanner have provided us with fantastic support throughout the project; not only in getting the most out of the WITNESS platform and its integration with other solutions thanks to its full API’s, but also by advising on the whole IT architecture within the Factory in a Box,” says Matthew Gibbon.

“Their experience and expertise in predictive simulation meant that they were able to offer up new ways of working and ultimately help us to improve the overall efficiency and delivery of the project.”


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