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 production planners. 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 production planning 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
- First, a virtual image of the factory hall is created by entering the dimensions on the Halocline desktop.
- In the next step, workspaces can be defined in the same way.
- If 2D layouts are available, they can be inserted as image files and serve as a basis for building the 3D data.
- This is followed by line planning and pre-assembly in the virtual factory. This is also possible collaboratively on a common layout.
- All components of the factory floor can be built up using boxes. The level of detail is left to the users themselves.
- Plants and 3D models can be inserted via CAD import.
- 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.
- Now different layout variants can be built up
- The different layout variants can be compared quickly and easily.
- 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.