After three years of pandemic-related break, we were finally able to welcome our users personally to the User Day on May 11th – fitting the 20th anniversary of INOSIM. The User Day was preceded by several trainings on the previous days and a cozy get-together in the evening before. More than 40 participants followed our invitation to Dortmund – a new record!
Evening Before: In The Traces Of The Malocher
Our get-together in the evening before began with an entertaining tour of Dortmund’s former Zollern colliery. The participants learned a lot about the harsh and dangerous working conditions underground in the early twentieth century. After having traced the life of the Malocher, (hard working man), many of us felt happy to be able to work on the screen with the simulation today, without gas explosions, coal dust, noise, and physical exertion.
Nevertheless, we had earned the delicious Zechenbüffet in the former stable of the colliery, now home to the Pferdestall restaurant. Here was the opportunity to get to know or meet each other again in a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere.
User Day and Company Anniversary
On the morning of the User Day, INOSIM CEO Peter Balling looked back at 20 years of INOSIM. The first customers of that time are already in their well-deserved retirement. So, it was all the more beautiful to see many new faces at this year’s User Day among customers and in the ranks of INOSIM.
The morning of the User Day was then entirely dedicated to Foresight. INOSIM Innovation Manager Christian Sonntag summed up: “At the last User Day 2019, I presented to you: ‘That’s what we intend to do, this what we want to achieve, here is the plan.’ – Today, we are proud to have achieved our goals and to be able to present them to you in the course of the day!”: The project partners of OptiProd.NRW developed a new methodology and software solution that enables high-quality production plans to be generated at the touch of a button, even for the most complex plants. And INOSIM’s new solution for predictive decision support in production, Foresight, offers modern dashboards embedded in a web interface and is ready for more advanced applications such as maintenance planning, which was demonstrated live in a demo.
Customer Presentations I: INOSIM Foresight In The Industry
In the first lecture block of the day, INOSIM customers shared with the plenary their experiences of using our new solution Foresight in practice.
Lighthouse project at BASF
Johannes Schuh reported on the transformation from an offline to an online factory at BASF. As part of a lighthouse project, a seven-figure sum was invested in the digitization of a plant, including the use of a digital twin to predict the timing of manual steps. Since delays in sampling in the historically grown, complex operation lead to delays in the overall process and thus to lost productivity. Today, an INOSIM Departure Board is located in the factory and ensures that operators are always informed when and where sampling will be needed. The significantly increased productivity has recouped the investment within a very short period of time. The system is widely accepted, as no additional effort is required, but a lot of transparency and situational awareness is gained. Successful use in the introduction of new colleagues is the icing on the cake. The conclusion: The production-accompanying simulation with live data in INOSIM offers very reliable predictions and significantly improves the predictability of work steps in the plant and in the laboratory at BASF.
Foresight in Bayer’s Acarbose Plant
Dr. Andreas Schluck then reported on the use of Foresight at Bayer’s Acarbose plant in Wuppertal, Germany. An INOSIM model of the process, which had already been used in many offline debottlenecking projects for almost 15 years, was successfully adapted to use live operating data. The findings of the complex but successful project: The timely involvement of the operational staff was very important in order to adapt the model as well as possible to the real plant and to adapt the Foresight dashboards to the requirements. Very detailed data is required, not SAP, but MES and PLC data, so that the model can start in the actual current state of the plant and accurately predict the future. Since the Dashboards are globally accessible from the company network, Andreas Schluck was able to show the participants of the User Day the next steps in the Acarbose plant live (anonymized). The Foresight system is currently in the hypercare phase to eliminate final inaccuracies and “childhood diseases”. Based on the positive experience, Bayer is planning further applications in other plants.
Digital support for CSL’s New Base Fractionation
Alexander Krez and Patrick Kümmel reported on the successful use of INOSIM Foresight in the new base fractionation at the CSL site in Marburg, Germany. Already during the engineering of the Phoenix project, it became clear that in the highly automated and complex, multistory plant, digital support of the employees was necessary. The idea for what would later become INOSIM Foresight was born: Detailed simulation with live data to predict the future process behavior and, in particular, manual steps. Today, the Foresight dashboards are already being used productively, and the feedback is very positive. Shift management in particular benefits and is able to allocate employees efficiently, especially in phases with high workloads. The previously usual fine planning on paper has also been largely replaced by simulation. Conclusion at CSL: INOSIM Foresight is an important building brick to achieve the full plant capacity.
Customer Presentations II: Various Problem Solutions With INOSIM
After the lunch break, a second lecture block with customer contributions followed.
Switching to renewable raw materials at Clariant
The start was made by Dr. Malte Otromke from Clariant: In an existing plant for the production of waxes, in addition to an expansion of capacity, the raw material supply from lignite (coal) to renewable raw materials was to be changed. The background was a process with complex constraints, such as the storage capacity of the intermediates, material-vs-tank restrictions or capacity constraints in filling. The simulation showed that a continuous conversion of raw materials from lignite to rice bran would not be as easy as expected, and that problems would arise in warehousing and production planning that the team would not have recognized without the simulation. With the help of the detailed model, different demand forecasts could be examined and evaluated in numerous scenarios. This enables Clariant to make fact-based decisions on the path to more sustainable chemical production.
Decision Support and Optimization at artistratis
Next, Dr. Nils Oldenburg delighted the attendees with an overhead slide (for young readers: Wikipedia) from the beginning of the millennium and thus “proved” to be one of the longest-serving INOSIM users. On the other hand, the topic of his presentation on Resilience vs. unpredictable influences in the process industry and the value of optimization strategies was up-to-date: Against the background of the current crises, he continued, planning horizons have become shorter and uncertainty has increased. Corona, energy crisis, shortage of skilled workers are just a few buzzwords. The use of INOSIM simulation for decision-making (in the case of the resilience of a multi-product plant against reduction of energy & personnel) has proven its worth here. The INOSIM Optimizer Add On was successfully used to show potential for improvements.
Successful Simulation at a Leading Dairy Company
Tim Schneider demonstrated which role simulation with INOSIM plays in the innovation process of Bayerische Milchindustrie eG, one of the leading dairy companies in Germany. Here, the management of raw materials is particularly important: whey, depending on previous storage and type of origin, has a highly variable quality (composition, seasonality and microbiological load). The predominance of make-to-order processes over make-to-stock necessitates complex planning of production and logistics: the raw material is delivered with an uncertainty of sometimes several days and must be processed within a few hours or days, depending on the quality. In addition, whey is very perishable and strict separation according to customer requirements such as organic, kosher or halal must be considered in the production process and taken into account in the simulation model. The use of simulation helps BMI to successfully manage these production dynamics and variables, for example by integrating a large, flexible tank farm.
Diverse use cases for INOSIM Simulation at ZETA
The customer presentations were concluded by Patrick Pichler and Sebastian Schrittwieser from ZETA GmbH with the topic The added value of simulations with INOSIM – overcoming stumbling blocks in FEL engineering. First, the transition from the Excel tool to professional simulation with INOSIM was described. ZETA used the simulation even if the customer did not explicitly request it, since this increased the planning reliability enormously. Its added value in engineering was illustrated by four cases from practice ranging from no simulation, to way too late, a little too late and just right. With the simulation models realized in INOSIM, bottlenecks were found that the customer had not yet considered. Thus, costly bad investments could be avoided. For another customer, large savings in the mid-six-figure range could be realized, since it was shown by simulation that this would not affect process reliability.
Reports From INOSIM Software Development
INOSIM’s development has been working on multiple topics over the past year: implementing parallel simulation for a massive speed booster, adding packaged goods simulation, as well as releasing a new business intelligence connectivity tool including convincing dashboard templates.
Parallel Simulation speeds up Statistical Analysis by factor 100
INOSIM Head of Software Development Dr. Michael Günther demonstrated the benefits of parallel simulation with the new standalone extensions Statistical Analysis and Optimizer. The core of the new development is the decoupling of simulation and database, necessary for parallel simulation. The resulting drastic reduction of database access increases the simulation speed for a single run of an example project, by factor 23 (!). Combined with parallelization, 100 runs can be now be completed in the time it took in V13 for a single run. This 100-fold speed boost can be used with the Statistical Analysis and Optimizer Add-ons, as well as for custom solutions with the help of the INOSIM COM-Interface.
Another feature of the upcoming INOSIM version is the new Packaged Goods Simulation, which is available as a separately licensed add-on from version 14. It will bring many innovations compared to the VBA-based prototype, which some customers have already tested: e.g., dedicated events for enter and exit of MUs, an online help, diagnostic functions and much more. INOSIM 14 is expected to be released in autumn 2023.
Business Intelligence for Simulation Results
Last but not least, INOSIM’s Business Intelligence specialist, Felix Riedl, presented the INOSIM BICON Add-on for the export of simulation data into commercial business intelligence solutions. With BICON 1.2, Power BI is now fully supported in addition to Tableau. The possibilities for the visualization of various simulation data and results were demonstrated to the auditorium in various examples. A dedicated training course on the use of Power BI with data from INOSIM BICON is currently being prepared and will be available in our Trainings section soon.
Conclusion And Outlook: Moving Into The Future
The successful day ended with a glass of sparkling wine to celebrate the 20th anniversary of INOSIM. Peter Balling’s idea of supplying the process industry with a powerful simulation software has become a success story during this time. The fact that INOSIM is not shy about innovative ideas, which can help the process industry in many ways, became clear once again at INOSIM User Day 2023. We look forward to continuing this path together with our customers and users.
The INOSIM team is already looking forward to the next User Day, which is expected to take place again in Dortmund in 2024. Don’t miss out and subscribe to our Newsletter!