What’s new in Visual Components 4.9

Introducing Visual Components 4.9 – Craft with clarity

The latest version of our manufacturing simulation and robot offline programming solution is here. Visual Components 4.9 improves clarity in production planning and optimization, making it easier to handle large projects.

What’s new?

  • Enhanced design and collaboration with sub-layouts
  • Expanded robot connectivity with Kawasaki and Yaskawa
  • New and redesigned OLP calibration tools
  • Simplified robotic assembly operations

For more details, contact Flexcon.

Design, organize, and collaborate with sub-layouts

Visual Components 4.9 introduces sub-layouts, allowing you to break down large factory layouts into smaller sections. This feature helps organize designs and manage projects with multiple stakeholders. Sub-layouts transform messy setups into tidy units, simplifying layout management and maintaining privacy when sharing designs.

Available in all Visual Components products.

Connect to Yaskawa and Kawasaki robots

This release enhances robot connectivity with plugins for Kawasaki and Yaskawa robots. These plugins simplify importing, simulating, and executing robot programs, closely mimicking real-world scenarios. This integration ensures systems are optimized and issues resolved before physical implementation, eliminating the need for multiple tools.

Supports ABB, Doosan, Fanuc, KUKA, Kawasaki, and Yaskawa robots. Available in Visual Components Premium and Premium OLP 4.9.

More intuitive robot calibration

Redesigned OLP calibration tools in Visual Components enhance precision in robotic programming. Intuitive interfaces and guided instructions help control the calibration process, reducing errors and streamlining the workflow. These tools ensure programmed motions accurately reflect real-life actions, minimizing troubleshooting time.

Available in OLP 4.9 products.

Faster and easier robotic assembly operations

The new release simplifies robotic assembly operations. New setup tools, including automated robot path generation and optimization, make configuring assembly tasks smoother. These tools support verification and validation of assembly sequences, ensuring planned actions are viable for real-world application.

Available in OLP 4.9 products.

Bringing clarity into manufacturing planning

Finally a release that helps users navigate modern manufacturing complexities. With improved layout management, expanded robot connectivity, redesigned calibration tools, and streamlined assembly operations, each feature enhances your ability to craft with clarity.

For a demonstration of how this update can benefit your operations, contact Flexcon today!

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Ensuring success of manufacturing projects: a guide to smart simulation & planning

Imagine a world where every manufacturing project unrolls with precision, where production lines vibrate in harmonious perfection and last-minute chaos is a relic of the past. This is not an episode out of some sci-fi movie, but the realistic outcome achievable today through meticulous planning and cutting-edge simulation technologies. Here, in this short guide to ensuring the success of manufacturing projects through smart simulation and planning, we explore how these elements are the backbone of successful manufacturing projects from automotive to electronics and many others.

Projects aren’t successful by mere chance but are engineered to succeed right from the start. Let’s delve into the strategic planning and advanced simulations that pave the way for a seamless, error-free production process—surpassing current standards of manufacturing excellence.

The Critical Role of Planning

At the heart of any successful manufacturing project lies a well-thought-out planning phase. This phase is the blueprint from which all manufacturing strategies are developed. Planning includes an analysis of the requirements of the project, allocation of resources, assessment of potential risks, and setting up the timeline. Perfect planning makes sure it is protected from any kind of possible fail and assures smoothness and effectiveness in operating the project.

Key Planning Strategies:

  • Resource Allocation: Proper allocation of resources, including manpower, materials, and machinery, ensures that projects are not delayed due to shortages.
  • Risk Management: Identifying potential risks and developing mitigation strategies can prevent costly setbacks.
  • Timeline Scheduling: Detailed schedules help coordinate various project phases, ensuring that each segment progresses without delay.

Manufacturing Simulation: A Game-Changer

Manufacturing simulation is a game-changing tool in industrial operations. It provides a virtual model of the production process, which allows the visualization, analysis, and optimization by engineers and project managers of the workflow without developing a physical proof and without the need for trial and error

How Does Manufacturing Simulation Work?

Manufacturing simulation consists of a precise digital replication of the manufacturing process down to the machinist operations, worker actions, and product assembly lines. This simulation allows for:

  • Visualization: Teams can see the manufacturing process in action before it is implemented, helping to identify any potential issues in workflow or design.
  • Optimization: It provides data on process efficiency, allowing managers to tweak and optimize various elements such as machine placement and operational sequences.
  • Validation: Simulation validates the manufacturing process against the designed parameters, ensuring that the system operates as intended before full-scale production begins.

Benefits of Manufacturing Simulation:

  1. Reduced Time to Market: Accelerates the design and development phases, allowing for quicker project completion.
  2. Cost Efficiency: Identifies costly errors in the planning phase, reducing the potential for expensive corrections during physical implementation.
  3. Enhanced Product Quality: Ensures product quality by allowing for adjustments and optimizations before the manufacturing process begins.

Integration with Industry 4.0 and Beyond

Especially in the context of Industry 4.0, where digitization and interconnectivity of factories are the main intentions, manufacturing simulation is a matter of fact necessity. Therefore, other Industry 4.0 technologies of IoT devices designed to improve informed decision making and efficient operations with advanced analytics work perfectly with simulation tools.

Future Trends:

  • Industry 5.0: As we move towards Industry 5.0, the role of simulation will expand to include more human-centric approaches, focusing on customizations and enhancements in human-machine interactions.
  • AI Integration: Artificial intelligence can further enhance manufacturing simulations with predictive analytics and more advanced decision-support systems.

Case Studies and Success Stories

Manufacturing simulations have already proven their value in several industries. In its elbow-to-elbow experience with major Italian industrial companies, Flexcon has often come across excellent examples. For instance, an automotive company that used simulation to optimize the screw tightening process in assembly lines, achieving consistent cycle times and increased productivity. Another example is a large food packaging company that used simulation to automate and refine its palletizing process, dramatically reducing cycle times from minutes to seconds, and being able to simulate its packaging lines to potential buyers of its systems. Stay tuned to learn about Flexcon‘s top business cases for success.

The success of a manufacturing project must be optimized not only with quality raw materials and machinery, but also by reaching the point of operation through strategic planning and simulations. Manufacturing simulation, endorsed by manufacturers, makes it possible to predict probable problems, optimize the process and increase the level of productivity, thus making manufacturing projects a success. This area, with the development of digital technologies, will increase its impact in the near future to become an essential tool for the manufacturing industry.

Best practices for effective manufacturing simulations

Integrating simulation into the manufacturing process is a critical step for optimizing both existing and new production workflows. It demands significant technological investment, but the benefits in operational cost reductions, organizational efficiency, and training are profound.
Here we outline some of the best practices derived from extensive industry experience in dynamic production simulations:

1. Clearly define objectives and problems

Before diving into the simulation, it’s essential to define what you aim to achieve and the specific problems you’re addressing. Whether it’s reducing cycle time, minimizing resource wastage, or streamlining logistics, a clear set of objectives guides the simulation process effectively.

2. Develop a conceptual model

Construct a conceptual model that simplifies the real-world process into manageable elements. This model serves as the blueprint upon which the entire simulation is built. It should capture the essential components of the manufacturing process, including workflow, resources, and interactions.

3. Validate the conceptual model

Validation ensures that the model accurately reflects the physical process it represents. This step is crucial for building credibility in the simulation results and should involve checking for logical correctness and verisimilitude with actual production scenarios.

4. Collect and analyze input data

The quality of a simulation is highly dependent on the input data. Collect precise and comprehensive data about the production environment, including machine capabilities, worker efficiency, and material properties. This data must be analyzed to ensure it supports the objectives identified in the first step.

5. Translate into a mathematical model

Transform the conceptual model into a mathematical framework that can be simulated. This step involves defining mathematical relationships between different elements of the process, incorporating stochastic parameters to account for variability and uncertainty in production.

6. Calibration and validation

Once the mathematical model is established, it must be calibrated to reflect real-world conditions accurately. This might involve adjusting the model parameters based on historical data and validating the model by comparing its output against known data.

7. Design and execute simulation experiments

Plan and carry out a series of simulation experiments. This involves setting up different scenarios to test hypotheses about improvements and adjustments in the production process. Each scenario should be designed to yield insights that can lead directly to actionable improvements.

8. Analyze output data

Finally, analyze the data generated by the simulations to assess performance under various conditions. This analysis will reveal strengths and weaknesses in the process, guiding further tweaks and improvements.

9. Implementation of results

Translate the successful simulation scenarios into real-world applications. Implement the changes in the manufacturing process as identified through the simulation to realize improvements in productivity, quality, and cost-efficiency.

Tools and technologies

Utilize advanced simulation software and technologies such as FlexSim and Visual Components which offer robust environments for experimentation, analysis, and visualization. These tools can handle complex simulations, including those involving digital twins and cyber-physical systems, which are crucial for integrating Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.

By adhering to these best practices, manufacturers can leverage simulations to predict outcomes, plan effectively, and execute manufacturing processes that meet the modern demands of speed, efficiency, and adaptability. This proactive approach is vital in an era where production complexity and technological integration are ever-increasing.

From the macro to the small

In simulating an entire factory or industrial process, it is necessary to always move from imagining first the strategy, then the tactics: that is, first the global and macro-level operations, and only then the intricate and micro-level details. This step is critical because it allows manufacturers not only to visualize the entire production line in broad strokes, but also to zoom in on specific components and interactions, without losing sight of their focus.
Reconciling a view of the process as a whole with a granular focus helps identify inefficiencies and potential failures at the smallest levels, which are often the catalysts for broader operational challenges.

Visual Components is an advanced simulation software that expertly navigates the transition from macro to micro perspectives in industrial processes. At the macro level, it enables users to model and visualize entire production workflows, providing a broad overview of operations and allowing for strategic planning and optimization. This includes layout configuration and throughput analysis, essential for understanding how different parts of the system interact and influence overall productivity.

On the micro scale, Visual Components delves into the detailed 3D modeling and simulation of specific pieces of machinery, such as robots. It offers tools to simulate the individual functions and movements of these machines within the production line. This level of detail is crucial for troubleshooting specific operational issues, optimizing machine performance, and ensuring seamless integration into the wider workflow. By bridging the gap between large-scale process management and fine-grained mechanical simulations, Visual Components provides a comprehensive toolset that enhances both the design and execution of industrial operations.

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The remarkable future of industrial automation: introducing virtual commissioning.

Commissioning is an enduring methodology that can be based entirely on the use of simulation to test and optimize manufacturing systems prior to their physical construction.
Some insights into a key catalyst for advancing digital transformation in the context of manufacturing and industrial processes.

The notion of virtual commissioning

Virtual commissioning represents a breakthrough in the approach to manufacturing. Its main mission is to simplify the setup process, reduce costs, improve efficiency and enhance factory output through the use of advanced simulations. Not only does this methodology help meet Factory Acceptance Testing (FAT) deadlines in project plans, but it goes further by enabling “virtual FAT” in some cases.

Overcoming traditional challenges

Traditional set-up and start-up challenges, are often the cause of delays and additional costs in industrial projects. They are addressed by modern manufacturing simulations. The historical failure to test control software until the hardware is physically completed is overcome, radically changing the sequence of project implementation.

Virtual commissioning for a  smart factory
The future of manufacturing is virtual commissioning. With tools like FlexSim and the help of Flexcon‘s development and modeling team, companies can simulate and optimize industrial processes before they are even physically implemented, ensuring efficiency, reducing costs and accelerating time-to-market.

Software and commissioning: the heart of the process

With the advent of the programmable logic controller (PLC), software has risen to the driver’s seat in the field of automated machinery and equipment. However, until a few years ago, tests could only be performed on physical machines, inevitably delaying the commissioning process.

Virtual commissioning reorders this sequence, reducing the impact of commissioning on the critical path of the project. Creating a static representation of the machine using 3D CAD data, adding kinematics and a control system, was the first step towards virtual testing of the control software.

Most recently, with the advent of the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0), it became possible to create “smart” manufacturing systems that can alert their status, react to trends and optimize performance with very little human intervention.

The complexity of systems introduced by Industry 4.0 has required new processes to facilitate their implementation and oversee their operation. Two of these processes are digital twin and virtual commissioning.

Digital twin is based on the virtual reconstruction of a physical system. A computer model enables the exchange of data between the virtual and real systems. Digital twins can replicate single machines, cells and production lines or even entire factories.

Virtual commissioning is aimed at simulating the control logic and signals that eventually enable an automation system to run, so as to replicate its operation and complete its controls. In fact it is considered a key element in staying ahead of competitors and maximizing return on investment.

The pressure to rapidly implement new Industry 4.0 technologies also makes this methodology an indispensable strategic tool.

The captivating benefits of virtual commissioning

The benefits of virtual commissioning are numerous and highly visible. Early detection of problems, reduced project execution time, significant financial savings, and increased design flexibility are just some of the positive impacts.

Flexcon ha guidato aziende di diversi settori nell'implementare con successo il virtual commissioning utilizzando ad esempio Visual Components. Attraverso casi studio dettagliati, è emerso chiaramente come questa metodologia possa testare processi di produzione complessi.
With its exceptional rendering and visualization capabilities, Visual Components enables businesses to simulate and optimize complex production processes with ease, enhancing efficiency and reducing costs before physical implementation.

In essence (a step-by-step walkthrough of the virtual commissioning process):

Virtual commissioning is revolutionizing the way manufacturing plants systems are tested and optimized before they go physically into service. Enterprises in every industry can maximize the benefits of this innovative practice with a collaborative operating model developed within the company or by integrating external parties and teams. Some crucial stages for best practices:

Clear understanding is the starting point. A well-informed and knowledgeable team avoids mistakes by ensuring that virtual commissioning provides useful and applicable real-world data.

Analysis and definition of goals and production system functionality should be ensured by gathering essential documentation and requirements. This phase lays the foundation for a virtual model that is true to reality.

Building the 3D model is the next step, which is initiated from CAD data. With tools such as Flexsim and Visual Components, an extremely accurate 3D model can be created. Integration of kinematic data will provide a detailed representation of the designed equipment.

Logics can then be integrated by connecting the PLC and robot controller to the digital model in order to test sequences and system behavior. The connectivity of our simulation software with different manufacturers ensures an cross-compatible approach.

Simulation and testing are the next step. The model should be subjected to diverse operational scenarios, testing performance under both normal and error conditions. This step ensures that the system will effectively handle unexpected events.

After commissioning, it is key to adopt an approach of continuous improvement. Virtual commissioning reduces the need for physical startup. After this stage, feedback can be gathered to further refine the control model and logic. This ensures that processes are dynamic and constantly evolving. This system enables continuous improvement and immediate responses to rapid changes imposed by the markets.

Combining mechanical design and software development for industrial system automation, even the most complex, is a sure path to innovation.

It enables the enhancement of the quality of services and products.

The benefits of virtual commissioning are accordingly numerous. In addition to the shortening of time and costs associated with commissioning, it enables detailed analysis of the system and testing of its effectiveness, while also providing after-sales or follow-up support with the ability to easily verify any changes over time. In addition, the user-friendly visualization promotes communication and collaboration among the various stakeholders involved in the project and the commissioning.

However, virtual commissioning can also be employed for commercial or marketing purposes. If a demonstration presentation of a plant’s operation is needed, virtual simulations can serve as a convenient preview. This provides a clear and engaging overview.

In addition, the creation of a realistic virtual environment for machine operators and maintenance personnel is possible. Thus, through simulations, employees can enjoy optimal and completely safe training, effectively preparing for their tasks. In addition, tools such as Visual Components can integrate virtual reality into the process, further enhancing the training experience.

Virtual commissioning: the future is now.

Virtual commissioning can arguably be considered a cornerstone practice of advanced automation. Anyone already exploring the Digital Twin can’t help but consider implementing virtual commissioning. Our advice is to use the tools offered by innovative tools such as Visual Components and Flexsim.

In an increasingly digitally driven business world, embracing this methodology means not just staying competitive but also leading the way to a more efficient and innovative future within industrial manufacturing.

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Integrating process simulation with design tools: the rationale behind Autodesk’s acquisition of FlexSim

Flexsim acquired by Autodesk November 2023

FlexSim acquisition by Autodesk was completed in November 2023, shortly after the announcement of plans to integrate process simulation with native design tools already available on its platforms. This swift completion underscores Autodesk’s commitment to rapidly integrating FlexSim’s advanced simulation technology into its suite of tools. This acquisition allows Autodesk to enhance its digital factory design and operational efficiency capabilities. It positions Autodesk as a leader in providing comprehensive, cloud-connected solutions for the entire lifecycle of manufacturing and logistics operations. This strategic move not only fortifies Autodesk’s offerings but also delivers immediate value to its customers, enabling them to tackle contemporary industry challenges with innovative, integrated solutions.

Autodesk’s strategic acquisition of FlexSim and its industry-leading features

If a top multinational corporation makes the move to acquire a platform like Flexsim, it cannot be accidental. It must be part of a strategic plan reflecting the ambitions of this prestigious brand. The goal is to enhance factory design solutions and make a significant impact on its customers. This strategy is to facilitate digital transformation in manufacturing and logistics, addressing critical industry needs for efficiency and sustainability.

Integration of simulation with design tools


FlexSim’s simulation technology lets manufacturers create detailed models of factory floors and logistics centers. This provides valuable insights into production flow and performance metrics. Integrating FlexSim with Autodesk’s design tools, such as Inventor, Revit, AutoCAD, and Autodesk Construction Cloud, allows users to transition seamlessly from design to operational analysis within a unified platform.

Addressing industry challenges

Manufacturers are under pressure to optimize operations due to rising energy and material costs, stringent environmental regulations and the need to relocate and relocate production. FlexSim’s simulation technology provides a powerful solution, enabling comprehensive analysis and optimization of factory and logistics center operations. The task of Industry 4.0 and 5.0 is to provide manufacturers with tools to achieve greater efficiency, reduce costs and improve sustainability by putting it at the center of the enterprise.

Enhancing digital twins

One of the standout benefits of FlexSim’s technology is its ability to create digital twins—high-resolution virtual replicas of physical factories. These digital twins allow for detailed simulation and control of operations. They enable accurate performance prediction, energy consumption forecasting, safety analysis, and equipment utilization measurement. Integrating FlexSim with one of the largest modeling platforms worldwide strengthens the digital twin concept, making it more accessible and actionable for manufacturers.

FlexSim’s best features in today’s industry

Discrete event simulation (DES)

FlexSim excels in discrete event simulation, modeling systems as a sequence of discrete events over time. This method is effective for analyzing complex manufacturing processes and logistics operations. It helps identify bottlenecks, optimize workflows, and predict system behavior in various scenarios.

Advanced modeling and analysis

FlexSim provides robust tools for in-depth model analysis and layout scenarios. Users can simulate different factory layouts and processes, enabling them to test and refine their designs before implementation. This capability significantly reduces the risk of costly mistakes and inefficiencies that can arise from poor planning and design.

Real-time data integration

A key feature of FlexSim is its ability to integrate real-time operational data with factory design data. This integration ensures that simulations are based on current and accurate information, enhancing the reliability of the insights generated. This capability is crucial for maintaining a responsive and adaptive manufacturing environment, where changes can be quickly evaluated and implemented.

Cloud connectivity

FlexSim’s technology supports cloud-based data management, aligning perfectly with Autodesk’s cloud-first strategy. Centralized and connected data ensures that all stakeholders have access to up-to-date information, breaking down silos and improving communication and collaboration. This connectivity facilitates a continuous improvement loop. Lessons learned from each simulation can be applied to subsequent iterations, driving ongoing operational enhancements.

Predictive analytics and optimization

FlexSim’s simulation capabilities extend beyond mere modeling to include predictive analytics and optimization. Users can forecast the impact of changes in their production processes, evaluate different scenarios, and identify the optimal solutions. This proactive approach to management enables manufacturers to stay ahead of potential issues, streamline their operations, and make data-driven decisions that enhance productivity and reduce costs.

To learn more about the strategic steps that Autodesk is taking to expand its capabilities and leveraging artificial intelligence to improve automation and creativity in design and manufacturing, check out this interesting article.

The acquisition of FlexSim by Autodesk represents a strategic enhancement of Autodesk’s manufacturing and logistics solutions. By integrating advanced simulation capabilities with existing design tools, Autodesk is well-positioned to help manufacturers navigate the complexities of modern production environments. FlexSim’s robust features, including discrete event simulation, advanced modeling, real-time data integration, cloud connectivity, and predictive analytics, provide powerful tools for optimizing factory and logistics operations. This acquisition underscores a big corporate’s commitment to driving digital transformation in manufacturing, enabling businesses to achieve greater efficiency, sustainability, and competitiveness in a rapidly evolving industry.

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