Factory Layout Planner

Ilario Francesco Ceruti1, Giovanni Dal Maso2, Giorgio Ghielmini2, Paolo Pedrazzoli2, Diego Rovere2

Technology Transfer System s.r.l., via Pacini 15, 20131 Milan, Italy, ceruti@ttsnetwork.com

University of Applied Science of Southern Switzerland - SUPSI, Galleria 2, CH-6928 Manno, Switzerland, {giovanni.dalmaso, giorgio.ghielmini, paolo.pedrazzoli, diego.rovere}@supsi.ch

Abstract The Manufuture strategic research agenda identifies two fronts of intense and growing competitive pressure for European manufacturing: in the high-tech sector, we face other developed countries and, on the other hand, in more traditional sectors, low-wage countries pose a serious threat. One of the response envisioned and strongly promoted is the development of ground-breaking Information and Communication Technologies meant to support new approaches to industrial engineering. Clearly drawing inspiration from this vision, the tool presented in this paper, the Factory Layout Planning, aims to be such kind of technology, enabling the multi-site, multi-level distributed design of factory layout and performance simulation. This paper gives an overview on the main features, in terms of concrete software characteristics of this tool, that can be considered one of the cornerstones for the Next Generation Factory.

Keywords Digital factory, layout planning, distributed, simulation



Seek To Reform The Environment, Not Man [Full82]. This famous sentence clearly mirrors the objective of our research: we hold out to innovate the environment in which a factory designer perform his activity, without constraining his creativity (the man). The availability of innovative technologies, such as distributed applications or multitouch technologies, is enhancing the possibility to support collaboration in software applications, and offers the opportunity to create innovative environments. The tool, described in this paper, wedge technologies to become a real new environment supporting the design lifecycle of a factory layout. The Factory Layout Planner (FLP) allows the multi-user, network-based visual creation and management of a factory layout: the design team can co-operate on the same layout both acting on a common multi-touch device, or collaborating from different part of the world. [Bat07][Boe06] have envisioned and presented the rise of a new generation of planning tools, such as the FLP, as concrete solutions towards the cost-effective and rapid creation, management and use of the Next Generation Factory. Moreover, a key element in this revolution, is the capability to provide an “adherent to reality” representation of manufacturing process, as gain highlighted in the “Manufuture Strategic Research Agenda” [EC04]. Based on this preliminary considerations, hereinafter the reader can find a complete overview of the main features of this software solution: functionalities available, interaction modes, standards adopted and hints on design choices, so to provide a comprehensive picture of the FLP.


State of the Art

State of the art technology in layout design and simulation is represented by some huge software suites that aim to provide a comprehensive support from the product to the process design and

.eupass-fp6. hence providing means to teams at different locations to work at the same time on the same layout simulation. Environment. then many individuals of the same team can actively cooperate on the same layout using the same device. while it is present in the VFF (Virtual Factory Framework. • local: FLP moves the 3D simulation on multi touch table devices (also studying the new gestures related with planning). Other tools that historically were born to support Discrete Events Simulation are moving towards 3D simulation. The most important references are Dassault Systemes – Delmia V6 [DEL]. Some minor 3D configuration software tools have been recently developed for product variants management. the ability to perform Discrete Events Simulation (DES) on the layout that the user is composing.com/) discrete events simulation was applied to the analysis of the material and products flows. There are three key features of the FLP: the 3D visual editing of the layout. Some of them considered “ad hoc” solutions for simulating validation scenarios factories (EuroShoe) while others where more related to the planning of a generic production plant like Difac (Digital Factory for Human Oriented Production System. the latter allow users to act on the same device in the same time on a common model.Tecnomatix 9 [TEC]. the possibility to act on the same layout in a distributed environment. and Comfort made shoe. Advancement over SOA FLP innovation is mainly related to the collaborative aspects. Simio Simulation Software [SIM]. http://kobas. and to the integration of the new touch technologies into the layout design process. FLP aims at being an integrated solution providing both DES and 3D simulation as built-in distributed functionalities.vff-project. • 3 Client Application Showcase The Factory Layout Planner is a client/server application that enables the collaborative development of a factory layout.ttsnetwork.management. Visual Components [VIS] supports 3D components programming and assembly for an easy layout design and simulation. In KoBaS (Knowledge Based Customized Services for Traditional Manufacturing Sectors Provided by a Network of High Tech SMEs.net/). http://www. no other European project applied large multi touch devices to the collaborative aspect of the factor layout planning. Moreover. a DES software with built in support to 3D layout assembling but limited simulation capabilities. Some examples are Rockwell Automation – Arena 13. It does not support any type of collaboration. In fact. This functionality can be achieved thanks to the integration of multi-touch tables.cec-made-shoe. a DES software for complex production plants. collaboration is supported at 2 different levels: remote: FLP is a distributed application. that support both layout design and simulation.difac. Additionally. layout planning is considered in many different European projects. Moreover.0 [ARE]. Eupass (Evolvable Ultra-Precision Assembly Systems. http://www. These tools can be easily adapted to layout design but they don’t support any simulation of the plant and are not meant to be collaborative. http://www. The aspect of multi-site factory and related logistics planning was not considered in these previous projects. while in CEC-made-shoe (Custom. 3D simulation was meant to support huge layout simulations but the aspects of the layout composition and DES analysis were not supported.com/).eu/) project. and integrate tools for task programming and production process management. and Siemens . http://www. in which the layout management represents a keystone concept of the project.org/) project dealt with the reconfiguration of single production lines. As mentioned the collaboration on the layout can be both remote and local: while the first allow user distributed all over the world to cooperate in the layout creation. whose 3D design and simulation of layout is partially supported by additional packages.

the most of the computation is performed: this enables the optimal usage of the computing resources. with this architecture it is possible to minimize the network data flow and exploit the hardware potentiality of the client (e. The following pictures shows the main user interface elements of the FLP. despite this in this paper only the fist aspect of the collaboration will be deeply described: the possibility to collaborate on a common layout.The FLP aims to cover both the aspect of the collaboration issue. without blocking the usage of the application while the entire catalogue is downloaded. The architecture of this application is a two-level architecture with a fat client: the server is mainly a synchronization manager and a repository. the application also synchronizes its local copy of the catalogue of available equipments (templates) that are presented in the catalogue browser (left of the working area in Figure 2). Once the connection to the server is established. On the contrary. that is a more sensible issue in the nowadays global market. . in the same time.g. The documents are stored on the central server and the application maintains an updated local copy. Figure 1 : Connect dialog Figure 2 : FLP client application The user connects to a server using the dialog show in Figure 1 and can choose to create a new document or edit an existing one. while. on the client side. This update is done in background. Performance is a key factor when dealing with complex 3D model and real time requirements. the download of such element is prioritized to ensure that the latest version of the resource is available. if some template is required to open an existing document. over a network architecture. graphics card). As an example.

For those reasons. The FLP uses a XML file for each factory layout. The objects can be selected. further the files building a component come from different independent sources (e. CAD system. the properties values. The XML of the catalogue is validated against XSD [XSD04] (catalogue. the user can connect objects to create logical relationship useful for the DES simulation. An important aspect of the data concerns naming. it happens that the same item (port. an inventory of factory elements represented as a hierarchical tree list is available with a list of all the users currently connected to the same server. operators…) used for the layout. frame or property) is cross referenced in more than one file. Properties of any element. Defining this parameter as a property in the properties XML file enables the FLP to show the parameter in a dialog and let the used change its value. 3. The same parameter is used in the Java class defining the behaviour of the component during DES simulation. Java programming environment). the version number and a list of URLs of required resources. the template category. The available ports are shown and the user can connect then tracing lines from one port to the other. Most of the application window is occupied by the 3D view of the layout. Those objects are described by an identifier (ID). are all available by double clicking on the element itself. zoom and rotate function are available for natural navigation in the 3D scene. grouped. For each component the FLP stores: Image file (JPEG) used to visualize the component in the catalogue browser XML file defining objects relationships with frames1 and joints and referring to geometrical aspect (3D XML) • VRML file to define the 3D appearance of the objects (such file format is usually easy exportable from any CAD system) • Java class in a JAR file that describe the behaviour of a component • Properties file for DES parameters and ports. a reference template name. Edit: this is the main mode used to modify the layout. the mouse is used to explore the layout: pan. moved. Thus for each item it is specified the template name. For example: a new component “roughing machine” has a specific parameter “roughing-level”. A snap grid can optionally be enabled to assist the positioning of the objects. XML editors. The user can interact with it using the mouse and the desired interaction mode: • • • Camera: in this mode.xml with the version used by client: this technique allows to discover if the user local copy is synchronized with the server one. described by a set of files. The catalogue is managed with drag & drop support: new objects can be added to the virtual scene simply dragging the icon from the catalogue to the 3D view. the URL of the 3D XML. Connection: when this mode is enabled. Finally all the files mentioned above are listed in a catalogue.xsd) to ensure the data to be coherent with the data model used by the FLP.Beside the catalogue. a description. • • 1 Positioning reference: represents a reference system in terms of location and orientation . the URL of the properties file. rotated and their properties viewed and edited. a label. This requires a consistent naming within a template. its position and orientation. This file contains all the instances of objects that are in the layout. resources. the URL of the preview image.g.1 Data storage The catalogue is a collection of different type components (machines. a position and all the connections to other objects. In fact the FLP can handle components without the need of knowing their details (the catalogue is dynamically extensible without changing the FLP).

there is a set of interfaces that are implemented by the server and client applications. Either the element at root level only or all the elements. For this standard protocol. onMotionFactoryElements Gives the temporary position of a list of objects on motion. offers the following functionalities: • • • • • • • • • • • • save: Saves the current state of the model is saved on the server and can be reused later on. The IFactoryCatalogue object contains the information necessary for the connection to the FTPserver. If the objects are not connected. data binding between files is done by an unique name: data contained in the catalogue are referred thanks to the template name. getFactoryElementIds: Returns the list of the identifiers of the factory elements that populate this model. that actually realize the distributed collaboration that is a key brick for the FLP. Cannot undo/redo an action done by others. connectFactoryObjects: Connects two factory objects by defining a from and a to port. a list of existing models. leaving the mechanism of communicating with the real object implementing the functionality to the Java RMI framework. This session is.g. The choice of RMI (detailed in the next chapter) as the client/server communication protocol. for a complete description of the system. group/ungroup: Group a list of elements together. disconnectFactoryObjects: Disconnects two factory objects. It also check if the ports can be connected (i.g. Needed to perform operations that change the state of an object. Thus. while the communication of the server to the client are done by instances of the IModelObserver interface. Can be called more than once. the server). initialized to synchronized the local and remote copy of the catalogue. through which the catalogue files can be downloaded thanks to a standard FTP session. Undo/redo will fail if there is no more actions that can be undone/redone or if another client changed the model . The IFactoryModel interface (that is on the server). modifyFactoryObject: Changes some properties for the specified factory object.e. addFactoryObject: Adds a new factory object defined by the corresponding template name to the model in the specified position. moveFactoryElements: Moves the specified factory objects inside the model.Once again. Thus a description of the interfaces available is here reported: this allows the reader to have a showcase of the server functionalities. removeFactoryElements: Removes the specified elements from the model. The communication from the client to the server is done using the IFactoryModel interface. brings the FLP undoubted advantages. and to open model obtaining a IFactoryModel object. lockFactoryElement/unlockFactoryElement: Requires or release a lock on the specified factory object. an application (e. for example. both the layout and the catalogue information are needed. if the ports are of a compatible type and they are not already used). The entry point of this engine can be surely represented by the IModelServer interface: this allows the client application to get an object representing the catalogue (IFactoryCatalogue). no notification will be sent nor an exception will be arisen. the client) needs only to know interfaces to call on a remote application (e. Undo/Redo: Requires a undo/redo of the last operation done by the client. 4 Distributed Collaboration Engine At the core of the distributed collaboration engine. getFactoryElement: Accesses the stub of the factory object on the server through the object ID. that is unique in the layout XML file.

xml in order to find which resources needs to be updated. grouped. The order of this list can be changed. to perform a DES simulation the FLP needs also a production plan and the operation flows. In this mode only one application (master) can control the model and the camera and the other clients (slaves) replicates all the actions performed of the master. i. to prioritize the download of resources that are needed to open a layout document. and delivers the generated events. it is very important that every change is propagated to all the involved actors. No other client is allowed to modify the model that is simulated. DES) or an object has been modified (added.in a way that an undo/redo would result in an inconsistent state. The methods of the interface mostly reassemble the methods available in the IFactoryModel interface and it is used to notify common events that happens either when the catalogue has been modified. Redo will fail also if the client performed a new action (this cleans the "redo buffer"). demo. The IModelObserver interface is implemented by the local application and it is used by the server to communicate with the clients. The local copy of the catalogue is checked against the server copy using the metadata available in the catalogue. This resources are first inserted in a list of files to be downloaded and then retrieved by the client through a standard FTP session. The progress of the simulation is recorded through trace messages produced by the entities and saved in a report file. Both are stored in XML files: while the first contains the plan in term of product codes and quantities. • lockForSimulation: Enables the DES simulation mode. 5 Discrete Event Simulation (DES) The FLP can run DES simulation on a layout. To obtain such a synchronization. In a distributed application.e. A central system class controls all the threads. ungrouped. are notified too. • moveCommonCamera: Moves the camera common to all clients. . These information are used to construct a complete DES model: the approach is to be as much as possible independent from the simulation execution library. • updateServerCatalog: Notifies the server that there is a change in the catalogue. moved. when the demo mode is active. or the interaction mode is changed (editing. removed. we have chosen a centralized architecture where the server is also an FTP service provider. • lockForDemonstration: Enables the demonstration mode. In a collaborative environment it is not usual that different clients operate on the same resource. Besides the layout and connections. .).. Each system is considered to be a set of interacting processes: these are connected together by ports and communicate with each other by passing events. All the events are directly notified to each client listening: moreover the presence of pending changes happened while the client was disconnected. you add a new machine. the second contains the sequence of operations needed by each product.. advances the simulation time.

sinks (the red cones). Figure 4 : A running DE ES simulation n on. d mainten nance interva al and durati ion. the user needs to define d a test bed in wh hich the seed d (used for pseudoTo run a simulatio random numbers generation). brushing machine.Figure e 3 : A layout t connections for DES sim mulation The layout shown in i Figure 3 and Figure 4 is a footw wear manuf facturing lin ne: there are e sources (the gre een cone). machin nes (lasting machine. m las st slipping machine. . roughing r machine e. . MTBF (Me ean Time Before B Failur re). the produc ction plan a and the dura ation are configur red. transporte er. each machine is characterize ed by the fo ollowing par rameters: cy ycle time (defined d by its mea an value and d variance). failure duration. g the transien nt interval. m rea activation ov ven). For the DES simula ation.

residence time. This actually happens only at the first connection to the server: from now on. by default. If necessary. As said before. thanks to Java Web Start technology. was born after an accurate design phase. The main choice has been to relay on well established standards: Java Remote Method Invocation (RMI) [RMI]: this protocol (as mentioned before) enables to create distributed applications. the application is launched immediately because all the required files are cached on the user PC. They can use their browser to open the page of FLP from the company intranet and start the application clicking on the appropriate link. and it can automatically download updates on start-up without requiring the user to go through the whole installation process again.and show to the remote team the changes they want to implement. such as the Internet. 6 Software Design Choices The Factory Layout Planner. the operator entity has only the usage statistics) During the simulation. must cooperate to evaluate the performance of a new layout. a brief overview of the most important statistics is visualized on informative labels positioned over the machines as shown in Figure 4. The headquarter team has worked on different layout proposal and saved them on the FLP server and now they can discuss with the remote team. possibly on different hosts. • 7 Usage scenario In this section we will describe a sample usage scenario of a reconfiguration of a shoe factory plant: we can assume that two teams. • Java Web Start [JWS]: this is a mechanism for program delivery through a standard web server. our architecture is a centralized one: the server is the point where other clients can connect. Using Java Web Start (JWS) technology we can distribute our client side application with a hyperlink. having particular requirements. Not all values are available for all types of entities (e. such as storage devices and the local network. In this sandbox environment. the program do not need to be downloaded again. During that phase some choices have been made to acquire the expected results. The presence of this server is exploited to provide an universal access point even for user without an FLP client: in fact any user can point their Java enabled internet browser to the server address and. applications launched with Java Web Start are. arrival rate. the required libraries and resources are automatically downloaded. All the other required resources are downloaded automatically by the JWS framework. and wanting to answer to particular needs.g. queue length. run in a restricted environment where they have limited access to local computing resources. Java Web Start can guarantee that a downloaded and potentially untrusted application cannot compromise the security of the local files or the network. • File Transfer Protocol (FTP) [RFC959]: this is a standard network protocol used to exchange and manipulate files over a TCP/IP-based network. They enable the Demo mode to gain control of the camera . . one at the headquarters and one at the plant location. Moreover. utilization. in which the methods of remote Java objects can be invoked from other Java virtual machines. in our prototype system we have chosen to use SimJava [How98] because the approach adopted to this simulating systems is similar to the one we adopted for the modelling in the FLP. each time the user connect to the same address. The trustworthiness of the origin of the application is ensured by digital code signing [JPSA]. Concerning the DES simulation engine. waiting time. service time.The simulation results contains the statistics associated with the entities: throughput. with the only requirement of the presence of the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) installed on the PC. Once deployed. the application is downloaded and installed or update to ensure that both team use the same version.

R. Bath. M.com/ . http://www.B. Lastly. References [Full82] Fuller. 8 Conclusions This paper has presented an innovative tool for the factory layout planning. File Transfer Protocol. http://java..a [Boe06] Boër.. Sacco. Jönsson. Reynolds. This paper highlights how all the efforts in the design and development of this tool went in the direction of creating a comfortable environment for the layout designer and his team.arenasimulation. pp 51—56. for example. Postel. A.. Macmillan Pub Co (Ed. R.com/ [ARE] Rockwell Automation Arena. http://www. G.plm. Internet Engineering Task Force. http://www. In International Conference on Web-Based Modeling and Simulation.. management and use of the Next Generation Factory. The capability to support a collaborative editing of the layout (possibly distributed) in a 3D environment. FP7-NMP-2007-SMALL-1). J. (1982): Synergetics: Explorations in the geometry of thinking.doc.. J.jsp [JWS] Java Web Start Technology. October 1985.. 1998. C. a different number of working station because they know they have more workers that are able to do a certain task: they can modify it on their PC and the changes appears immediately on the other PC. Pedrazzoli. We also wish to acknowledge our gratitude and appreciation to all the DOROTHY project partners for their contribution during the development of various ideas and concepts presented in this paper. [XSD04] XML Schema. Dépincé. E. C. D.com/en_us/products/tecnomatix/ [VIS] Visual Components. Constantinescu. Chryssolouris. Maropoulos.R..visualcomponents.com/javase/6/docs/technotes/guides/security/spec/security-spec.).) [EC04] European Commission..sun. 1 [How98] F.When finished they exit the Demo mode and the remote team can propose. Howell. Mcnab.com/javase/technologies/core/basic/rmi/index. http://www.w3. Request for Comments number 959. pp 83-90. R. Pappas. (2006): Virtual Factory Framework: key enabler for future manufacturing. The possibility to interact with the FLP from different part of the world. http://www.. for person belonging to different department of a company.com/javase/technologies/desktop/javawebstart/index.sun.automation. Acknowledgement This work has been partly funded by the European Commission through NMP Project DOROTHY: Design Of customeR dRiven shOes and multi-siTe factorY (No. September 19-21.txt [DEL] DELMIA Digital Manufacturing & Production.ietf. EJ Applewhite.html [RFC959] J.. Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Digital Enterprise Technology. http://java. 347-352.com/products/delmia/ [TEC] Siemens Tecnomatix 9. M. United Kingdom.org/XML/Schema [RMI] Java Remote Method Invocation. and the integrated DES possibilities. P. November 2004 [Bat07] Bathelt.. P.simio. “simjava: A Discrete Event Simulation Library For Java”. Paul (Ed. The authors wish to acknowledge the Commission for their support. CIRP u. MANUFUTURE – a vision for 2020.com/ [SIM] Simio Simulation. http://www. Springer. makes FLP to be an high value adding tool for cost-effective and rapid creation.siemens. Digital enterprise technology: perspectives and future challenges. Boër.jsp [JPSA] Java Platform Security Architecture. W3C Recommendation 28 October 2004. it is possible to activate the DES mode to evaluate the throughput of the new layout using the DES simulation.3ds.sun. P. C. Pedrazzoli. Rovere.org/rfc/rfc959. http://java. pp. Westkämper. (2007): High Value Adding Virtual Reality Tools for Networked CustomerDriven Factory. allow to state that this tool allow multi-site multi-user multilevel collaborative and distributed management of a factory layout. http://www.

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