Simulation software: Menu on the suspension railway

Eisenmann, a supplier of industrial systems, has developed a fully automated monorail system for catering logistics at Hamad International Airport in Doha.

Qatar is an emerging country. This peninsula on the Persian Gulf – roughly half the size of the German State of Hesse – has the third largest gas reserves in the world and is the most important supplier of liquefied natural gas. These resources explain the economic boom in Qatar, which is one of the richest countries on earth.

 

A hot spot such as this needs a modern airport. Since May 2014, around 30 million passengers pass through the new Hamad International Airport in the capital city of Doha every year – a logistical challenge for catering. Whether cola, mineral water, or coffee, chicken with rice or spaghetti carbonara – every day, around 82,000 meals need to be loaded onto specially prepared trolleys that convey them to the aircraft and have to be cleaned upon their return.

 

The whole system runs smoothly thanks to sophisticated technology and logistics based on German engineering. Eisenmann SE – a global supplier of industrial systems headquartered in Böblingen, Germany and with other locations in the USA, India, and China, received the order. The objective was to install a fully automated monorail system to transport the trolleys in the huge logistics center at the airport. The engineers from southern Germany relied on industry software from Siemens that enabled them to plan, test, and optimize the entire system in a virtual environment before it was actually installed.

Advance testing in Böblingen

As a systems supplier for environmental technology, material flow automation, and process technology, Eisenmann is currently subjected to tremendous complexity as well as growing time and cost pressure. The key to success is intelligent planning and excellent preparation from the very beginning – thanks to innovative software.

 

“Just a few years ago, we would have had to send a team of engineers to Qatar to test the system on-site in order to detect and eliminate weaknesses in the software,” says Dr. Monika Schneider, simulation expert at Eisenmann.

 

Today, everything is much easier. The experts did not need to fly the nearly 5,800 kilometers to the Middle East: “Thanks to Siemens’ Tecnomatix Plant Simulation software, we were able to test the entire system right here in Böblingen – even though the airport itself was still under construction.”

Thanks to Siemens’ Tecnomatix Plant Simulation software, we were able to test the entire system right here in Böblingen – even though the airport itself was still under construction.
Dr. Monika Schneider, simulation expert at Eisenmann

All scenarios at a glance

Engineers working at computers in Böblingen, Germany, pushed fully loaded flight service carts onto waiting trolleys, transported them to the supply station, unloaded them, cleaned them in the designated area and then conveyed them to the appropriate terminals – all in a virtual environment and as many as 20,000 times a day. “The programmers had to anticipate every conceivable scenario with the potential to cause problems,” says Monika Schneider – for example, when a trolley fails to reach its station or the storage area for empty trolleys is too small. Thanks to the numerous detailed tests performed in advance, the live start went very smoothly. “When we used the real electrified monorail system for the first time, everything worked just as we had planned in the virtual world.”

 

“How does an increase in flight operations affect catering? How can items of different sizes be transported? What can be done to ensure that system processes don’t interfere with each other?” By answering questions like these before a system goes into actual operation, Tecnomatix offers clear benefits for mid-sized companies like Eisenmann. “Development times were shorter. There was no need for tedious, labor-intensive on-site work, and we were able to quantify our business risks, because we were able to completely eliminate the possibility of project delays,” explains Dr. Monika Schneider. This approach will enable Eisenmann to continue to reduce its delivery times in the future – a key competitive edge.

Development times were shorter. There was no need for tedious, labor-intensive on-site work, and we were able to quantify our business risks, because we were able to completely eliminate the possibility of project delays.
Dr. Monika Schneider, simulation expert at Eisenmann

Simulation saves money

For global companies, the questions are always the same: How can companies boost their productivity and flexibility while cutting costs? Tecnomatix software adds a new dimension to planning. Thanks to 3D simulations, users can obtain a networked overview of a nearly limitless number of variables that can still be clearly visualized – even in the case of large and complex systems. Scenarios and problems can be tested interactively: Does the system still run smoothly when operating at full capacity? Where do bottlenecks occur and how can they be prevented?

 

“In the Conveyor Systems business unit, we use Plant Simulation in nearly every project,” says Ralf Weiland, Senior Vice President, Eisenmann Conveyor Systems. What’s more, there is a true return on investment. Every euro invested in the Tecnomatix simulation solution results in savings of up to 12 euros by the time the system is completed.

In the Conveyor Systems business unit, we use Plant Simulation in nearly every project.
Ralf Weiland, Senior Vice President, Eisenmann Conveyor Systems

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Eisenmann quickly drew its conclusions. In the future, the family-run Swabian company founded in 1951 will be able to standardize its various processes – everything from sales to service – worldwide. For example, it will be much easier for the company’s international project teams to exchange data across national borders. After all, Eisenmann also operates in Spain, Brazil, and Russia.

 

Product developers and system designers are now using Siemens software solutions: Teamcenter (PLM) as a shared engineering data platform and NX software (MCad), from which data can be effortlessly transferred to Tecnomatix.  Gerd Schneider, Corporate Vice President at Eisenmann, sums it all up: “This integration is bringing our worldwide project teams even closer together. The advantages extend far beyond the benefits of the individual software solutions.”

2015-10-01

Picture credits: Eisenmann; Video: Siemens Industry Software

Eisenmann is a leading international supplier of systems and services. Located in southern Germany, the company has been building highly flexible, energy-efficient and resource-friendly manufacturing, assembly, and logistics facilities for over 60 years.

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