Joint Bayer-INOSIM Workshop
Bayer AG and INOSIM have been collaborating for a long time on innovative solutions to challenging design, engineering, and optimization problems using INOSIM’s material flow simulation suite. Recently, the two companies have started to expand the use of INOSIM Digital Twins to the operations domain and are working on projects that aim to harness the power of simulation-based solutions to cover the complete plant life cycle.
In the summer of 2021, Bayer and INOSIM held a joint virtual workshop to provide insights and to discuss the many achievements and success stories that have resulted from their over 15-year collaboration, to clarify and define a common vision for the path towards the seamless use of INOSIM digital twins as key elements in Bayer “Virtual Factories” across the complete life cycle, and to define a roadmap with key activities towards achieving this common vision.
More than 40 participants attended and discussed talks in technical sessions focusing on engineering and offline operations support, on online predictive operations support, and on research and innovation efforts in the areas of optimal production scheduling and the use of AI to provide new powerful applications based on INOSIM digital twins.
INOSIM experts provided in-depth presentations on upcoming INOSIM software releases and solutions. The new INOSIM version V13 that will be released soon provides an improved packaged-goods library that enables holistic simulation of plant and logistics directly within the INOSIM suite, native support for .NET software components, a brand-new and improved VBA engine, numerous extensions that enable new solutions such as INOSIM Foresight and optimal production scheduling based on highly detailed digital twins, and lots of smaller features that make the use of INOSIM models much more efficient and comfortable. As always, many of the new features are driven directly by the requirements of the INOSIM customers. The packaged-goods library of INOSIM is used by Bayer experts in several major projects, which were presented by Bayer experts at the workshop as well.
The center piece of the workshop was INOSIM Foresight, the new solution for predictive decision support that is closely developed in collaboration with Bayer and other INOSIM customers. With support from INOSIM, Bayer experts are hard at work to make predictive decision support with INOSIM digital twins a reality for several of their plants. INOSIM experts contributed a demo of the Foresight system that illustrates several of the key benefits of the solution using a synthetic but realistic example plant from the pharma sector.
The new add-on INOSIM BICON is a key element of the INOSIM Foresight solution. INOSIM BICON tightly integrates INOSIM simulation software with leading business intelligence solutions such as Tableau and Power BI and makes it easy to quickly generate intuitive visual dashboards from realistic INOSIM simulations. Beyond INOSIM Foresight, INOSIM BICON provides lots of added value to customers in all scenarios where INOSIM software is traditionally employed. It enables users to quickly visualize key information that are crucial for engineering, invest, and other management decisions from INOSIM simulations and to distribute these visualizations to the right stakeholders throughout the complete enterprise.
INOSIM and Bayer are working on several research initiatives that promise to provide disruptive innovations for practical problems over the next years. These research efforts were presented within the last session of the workshop. In the research project OptiProd.NRW, the project partners Bayer, TU Dortmund, and INOSIM have developed a powerful new approach for the automatic computation of optimal production schedules that are based on highly detailed INOSIM digital twins and are thus likely directly applicable to the real plant without any manual modifications – a capability that no other scheduling solution provides. Within the research project KEEN, Bayer and INOSIM are part of a consortium that aims to employ AI methods for the reconstruction of batch phase information from plant measurements. Finally, INOSIM provided a brief overview of a PhD-level research project that is currently executed at INOSIM in cooperation with TU Dortmund University and that aims to develop a new, real-time-capable approach for reactive production scheduling using reinforcement learning.
All participants agreed that the event was a complete success. The workshop clearly illustrated that the long collaboration of Bayer AG and INOSIM has led to numerous advances and success stories that have been important for the ongoing digitalization efforts at Bayer. The vision to extend the use of INOSIM digital twins to add value across the complete plant life cycle has already been taken on in several research and/or innovation projects, and the workshop has generated new impulses and ideas to establish new initiatives towards this ambitious goal.