Layout planning in production

From old­school 2D lay­out to modern plan­ning with 3D data

Lay­out plan­ning is a part of fac­to­ry plan­ning and belongs to the field of acti­vi­ty of indus­tri­al engi­neers. It descri­bes the arran­ge­ment of all ope­ra­ting resour­ces in a fac­to­ry. Sub­are­as include area plan­ning and mate­ri­al flow plan­ning. Machi­nes, sys­tems, assem­bly sta­ti­ons and sto­rage ele­ments — all the­se are objects that can only func­tion effi­ci­ent­ly with each other and interlock wit­hout pro­blems if they are arran­ged cor­rect­ly. In order to find the most opti­mal spa­ti­al arran­ge­ment, many vari­ants have to be tried out.

In prac­ti­ce, the “try­ing through” of arran­ge­ment vari­ants hap­pens by means of 2D repre­sen­ta­ti­ons, from the block lay­out to the fine lay­out. The­se are very abs­tract and often inac­cu­ra­te. Moreo­ver, they are dif­fi­cult to under­stand for out­si­ders. In order to be able to bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­te the 2D sket­ches with other par­ties invol­ved — such as workers and mana­gers — plan­ners resort to CAD lay­outs. The­se are imple­men­ted by the cor­re­spon­ding experts at gre­at expen­se of time. Nevert­hel­ess, the result for holi­stic plan­ning is usual­ly sobering: the real envi­ron­ment of the con­ti­nuous­ly chan­ging pro­duc­tion is only ina­de­qua­te­ly represented.

In addi­ti­on to the arran­ge­ment of pro­duc­tion are­as and plants, their space requi­re­ments and pos­si­ble trans­port rela­ti­onships bet­ween the indi­vi­du­al objects must not be for­got­ten. This is the only way to ful­ly exploit the advan­ta­ges of lay­out plan­ning: With opti­mal store flo­or plan­ning, the mate­ri­al flow of the enti­re pro­duc­tion can be deter­mi­ned. Through­put times are shor­ten­ed, qua­li­ty is increased and deli­very relia­bi­li­ty is ensu­red. In addi­ti­on, space cos­ts can also be redu­ced by taking space requi­re­ments into account at an ear­ly stage. And that’s not all: Well-plan­­ned work­sta­tions also increase effi­ci­en­cy. This is becau­se, in addi­ti­on to the equip­ment in the buil­ding, the wal­king and dri­ving paths can also be depic­ted in the visua­liza­ti­on of a layout.

Modern visualization of factory planning

How indus­tri­al engi­nee­ring takes spa­ti­al con­di­ti­ons into account

In the fur­ther cour­se of plan­ning — i.e. after the first 2D lay­outs have been crea­ted — card­board engi­nee­ring is one of the popu­lar lean methods for test­ing lay­outs. Using lar­ge card­board boxes set up in an emp­ty hall, space requi­re­ments can be deter­mi­ned and pro­ces­ses run through.

Simi­lar to paper plan­ning, this method comes from a time when the­re were no digi­tal alter­na­ti­ves. Today, howe­ver, the­re are various solu­ti­ons far remo­ved from ana­log — often very time- and space-inten­­si­­ve — lay­out planning.

One exam­p­le is Halo­cli­ne. The vir­tu­al rea­li­ty edi­tor solu­ti­on allows the plan­ning of a new buil­ding or the replan­ning of an exis­ting pro­duc­tion hall on the digi­tal twin of the fac­to­ry. Here, dif­fe­rent vari­ants are crea­ted, com­pared and eva­lua­ted in detail.

How does layout planning work in virtual reality?

The work steps with Halo­cli­ne at a glance

  1. First, a vir­tu­al image of the fac­to­ry hall is crea­ted by ente­ring the dimen­si­ons on the Halo­cli­ne desktop.
  2. In the next step, workspaces can be defi­ned in the same way.
  3. If 2D lay­outs are available, they can be inser­ted as image files and ser­ve as a basis for buil­ding the 3D data.
  4. This is fol­lo­wed by line plan­ning and pre-asse­m­­b­ly in the vir­tu­al fac­to­ry. This is also pos­si­ble col­la­bo­ra­tively on a com­mon layout.
  5. All com­pon­ents of the fac­to­ry flo­or can be built up using boxes. The level of detail is left to the users themselves.
  6. Plants and 3D models can be inser­ted via CAD import.
  7. In the Halo­cli­ne libra­ry the­re is a sel­ec­tion of stan­dard ele­ments that can be pla­ced. In addi­ti­on, the libra­ry can be exten­ded with your own elements.
  8. Now dif­fe­rent lay­out vari­ants can be built up
  9. The dif­fe­rent lay­out vari­ants can be com­pared quick­ly and easily.
  10. The export can hap­pen both as pdf file or in 3D data.

The advantages of virtual layout planning in production

The easi­ly under­stan­da­ble hall plan­ning, which can be expe­ri­en­ced in the vir­tu­al world, pro­vi­des a good basis for com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on. The VR data can be tes­ted and dis­cus­sed with the employees from the store flo­or or the accep­tance depart­ment even befo­re the plan­ning pro­cess is com­ple­ted. If space requi­re­ments in the fac­to­ry are plan­ned sen­si­bly and com­pre­hen­si­bly for all tho­se invol­ved, cost advan­ta­ges result. The­se result, for exam­p­le, from savings in wal­king distances, bet­ter acces­si­bi­li­ty for logi­stics and a less error-pro­­ne pro­duc­tion process.

So whe­re does vir­tu­al rea­li­ty offer added value com­pared to ana­log planning?

By crea­ting data in vir­tu­al rea­li­ty (VR).…

  • con­cepts and ide­as can be quick­ly rea­li­zed and spa­ti­al­ly verified.
  • inter­di­sci­pli­na­ry teams are able to con­tri­bu­te their craft know­ledge befo­re the plan­ning is imple­men­ted in the hall.
  • exis­ting 2D or 3D CAD models can be included in the planning.
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