INOSIM User Day 2019: Setting Out For The Digital Future
This year’s INOSIM User Day was held on November 14, 2019, in Dortmund, Germany. Due to the growing number of our international customers, the meeting was held in English for the first time. It brought about a multitude of informative encounters between users and employees of INOSIM. The evening before, most attendees met at Dortmund’s newest attraction, Phoenix lake. During a guided walk, the visitors learned interesting facts about Dortmund’s industrial history. INOSIM’s invitation to a cozy dinner at a tradition-steeped Dortmund restaurant made the evening complete.
Welcoming A New Member in the INOSIM Group
The next morning, dozens of INOSIM users and employees met at our Dortmund location. Peter Balling, INOSIM CEO, opened the event reporting the latest news on the INOSIM Group’s growth: For sixteen years, INOSIM Software GmbH has been providing industrial users with high-end software for process simulation. Nine years ago, INOSIM Consulting GmbH was founded and has been supporting our customers in all regards of material flow analysis, plant and process design. The newest member of the INOSIM Group is this year’s INOSIM SOLUTIONS LLC, based in Dallas, Texas, which serves our customers in the American market. Moreover, the new company aims to spread our solutions further in the U.S.
Afterwards, Dr. Christian Sonntag provided information on innovation aspects of the INOSIM software development. In the future, INOSIM will even be applied as a predictive tool for production support. By dashboard GUIs, the simulation model will provide information to all stakeholders of a production. Hence, decisions such as the most useful next production step, or countermeasures in case of failure, can be supported by our Online Oracle. INOSIM employee, Erik Balling, demonstrated the new feature by a server-based model that could be retraced directly through the User Day’s attendees on their notebooks: The so-called KPI Cockpit supplies model-based forecasts which are relevant for production, e.g., the expectable average production rate of a plant within a defined period of time.
New Research Perspectives at INOSIM
As Dr. Sonntag continued, INOSIM has joined renowned partners from industry and science in the AI (Artificial Intelligence) research project KEEN of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. It aims to implement AI methods into the modelling of processes, product properties, and plants, and to develop self-optimizing industrial plants. For example, AI methods will be utilized for a self-learning plant that is able to adapt to changing boundary conditions. As another use case of the technology, optimized scheduling is possible. The exact reproduction of high plant and process complexity through INOSIM models is exploited here for effective production planning. Integration of AI methods even enables real-time (re)scheduling.
After that, Dr. Christian Sonntag reported on further research participations of INOSIM. The federal state NRW funded OptiProd.NRW will start next year, aiming to develop reactive, real-time scheduling for processing plants. In another federal state NRW project called LEGOLAS, a planning assistance tool for modular digitalized plants in the process industry is developed. It applies dynamic simulation models from INOSIM as its base. The SKaMPi project, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, aims to increase resource efficiency, particularly with low-volume production plants in the process industries. Here, INOSIM software is applied for analysis and statistics-based evaluation of the project results.
Impressive User Presentations Display Potential of INOSIM
After an extended lunch break, the second part of the day provided best-practice examples from the INOSIM customers.
Dr. Andreas Schluck (Bayer AG, Leverkusen, Germany) started by reporting on the concept of a Virtual Factory. To be able to match future challenges, the Bayer company develops structured methods for simulation and analysis of their growingly complex production processes. INOSIM is applied here for predictions and better process understanding. As a result, company-wide standardization is enabled, along with capacity increases and efficiency enhancements of the simulated plants.
Dr. Malte Otromke (Clariant AG, Frankfurt, Germany) contributed his positive experience with the application of INOSIM for the handling of volatile market demands. At his central research department, with the help of process simulation, the behavior of processing plants in case of fluctuating product demands has been scrutinized. Key performance indicators, like waiting times or reactor downtimes, were detected here, as well as best-possible plant extensions. Thanks to INOSIM process simulation, finally a strategy could be found to deliver the requested products on time and in high quality even under permanently changing demand conditions.
Julien Ferel of Arkema SA (France), gave a lively report on his company’s benefits from INOSIM. Process simulation has helped with logistical optimization, debottlenecking, feasibility studies, and Basic Engineering. In an internal project on capacity increase, thanks to INOSIM, a plant configuration optimally fitting to production targets could be detected. In another project, INOSIM Gantt and INOSIM Statistical Analysis helped with optimal management of storage tanks in a multi-product plant. Mr. Ferel stressed the fact that Arkema’s engineers highly benefited from INOSIM features like the Gantt chart, VBA extension, easy recipe definition, and Excel workbooks.
Tips and Tricks on our Support Page
Torsten Hellenkamp opened the User Day’s final round by giving an overview of INOSIM’s support activities. During the current year, lots of support cases have been resolved, some of them even leading to software developments or bug fixes. The Bag of Tricks area of our homepage, suggested by our customers on a previous User Day, for more than two years now has been granting easy access to INOSIM expert knowledge. Also, the INOSIM webinars called Open Support Sessions have succeeded, and during this year our consultants were able to set a company-wide record of trainings.
Outlook to upcoming INOSIM version 13
Moreover, Torsten Hellenkamp reported the latest news from our standard software development. He announced the next release, INOSIM 13, for the middle of the upcoming year. Its most important feature will be .NET support for Basic. Through that, future INOSIM users may optionally access the components and data types of the Microsoft .NET framework when using the INOSIM Visual Basic plug-in. Further innovations of INOSIM 13 are enhanced GUI and Gantt chart, extensions of the INOSIM Visual Basic object model, new statistical features, and many more. But even for INOSIM 14 (to be released in 2021), new features are projected. As a pure Simulation Engine, it will be optionally available without a user interface. This will simplify the integration of new features like the projected INOSIM dashboards and online applications (see above). Additionally, INOSIM 14 will provide parallelization functions, e.g., to simulate simultaneously with multiple parameters, or to speed up statistical analyses or optimizations.
Space for personal contact
Beside the information mentioned, the INOSIM User Day 2019 also provided many occasions for informal communication and personal contact between customers and developers. So, for the upcoming year we are looking forward to welcoming all friends and users of INOSIM process simulation software at our Dortmund location again.