What is Manufacturing Simulation?

Manufacturing simulation is the technology to model, experiment, and optimize your production process using digital models of your manufacturing environment. When you physically reorganize your processes, add new equipment, or upgrade your workflow, you may disrupt production schedules, inflate expenses, and cause systematic disarray.

Save time and production costs by addressing all the possible expensive mistakes you can where it should happen – on the planning table with manufacturing simulation!


Deep Dive into the Benefits of Manufacturing Simulation in Detail

Eliminate decision fatigue for production managers

Get data-driven insights by analyzing the performance of various production scenarios under different conditions before implementing them.

Avoid costly errors in your production processes

Test various scenarios (e.g. production process changes) without risking actual resources. If the simulation outcome shows defects or inefficiencies, you can tweak the processes until you find the optimal configuration.

Save time and bridge data gaps for production engineers

When project specifications are subject to change, you can quickly adjust your models and assess the impacts without the need for time-consuming and costly physical trials.

Enhance win rates and sales efficiency for system integrators

Quickly sketch and demonstrate your ideas in hours, instead of days. Your clients can see, rather than just imagine, the benefits and improvements your proposal will bring.

Make your sales proposals stand out

Simulations are far more compelling and understandable than verbal descriptions, static images, or spreadsheets. Sell more systems. Sell more machines. Make a greater impact from your sales content and proposed solutions, helping your customers come to a decision faster.

Optimize collaboration among stakeholders

With manufacturing simulation, project managers and technical sales engineers can together explore different scenarios, identify early on the potential design issues or challenges, and address them before they escalate.

A Brief History of Manufacturing Simulation

In the 1990s, manufacturing simulation began with basic 2D and evolved into 3D as computers got better. This was a real step up for engineers who were trying to model complex systems in a way that was accessible and easily understandable.

At first, these tools were slow and clunky, making some industry veterans skeptical. Fast forward to today, they have gotten so much faster, way easier to use, and they’re not just for the big players anymore. Even the smaller setups, like your local bakery, can benefit from manufacturing simulation. It turns out, manufacturing simulation has stuck around for a good reason – it’s super useful, no matter the size of your operation.

What is Manufacturing Simulation?

In a nutshell, a simulation is a model or representation that mimics a real-world situation or event.

A manufacturing simulation can be a digital model, digital shadow or digital twin of a real-world operation which allows evaluation of different production schedules and the impact of product mix and volume changes. It supports layout planning, bottleneck removal and continuous improvement efforts.

Let’s dive into the three top use cases for manufacturing simulation: factory layout design, virtual commissioning, and manufacturing project or custom-built machine sales acceleration.

Manufacturing simulation is widely used across various industries, including automotive, heavy machinery, and industrial automation, among others. It benefits a diverse range of organizations, from system integrators and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to academic institutions.

At the heart of manufacturing simulation lies the use of Discrete Event Simulation (DES), a method that begins with the collection of crucial data, including product details, process times, and factory layouts. DES models manufacturing operations as a series of sequential events, with each event impacting the subsequent one. This method proves ideal for capturing the complexities inherent in manufacturing processes. Below, we outline the typical workflow behind manufacturing simulation, highlighting its strategic approach to improving manufacturing operations.

How Manufacturing Simulation Works

1. Layout Planning

The first step in simulation involves sketching an initial layout, considering machine placements and workflow, without engaging in actual simulation. Once the layout is set, simulation features are added. This is where DES comes into play, with events like machine operations and worker tasks simulated in sequence. Each event occurs instantaneously, changing the state of entities like batches of work, and the simulation tracks these changes over time.

2. Feasibility Analysis

Running the simulation then tests this layout against time, simulating the movement of products and identifying areas for improvement. Adjustments are made iteratively, refining machine numbers, buffers, and staffing based on simulation feedback until an effective solution is reached.

3. Virtual Commissioning

After finalizing the design, the simulation aids in the implementation phase, especially with offline programming for robots and PLCs, which can be done before the physical setup. This speeds up the transition from virtual to real-world operation. Comparing ongoing production with the simulation ensures accuracy and guides further optimizations.

4. From Concept to Reality

In essence, manufacturing simulation, particularly through DES, is a continuous, iterative process. It starts from concept, evolves through testing and refinement, and extends into ongoing production, ensuring efficiency and adaptability in manufacturing operations.

Manufacturing Simulation Alternatives


Excel, while effective for basic, linear calculations, falls short in simulating dynamic manufacturing environments. It can adjust outputs based on inputs, but fails to provide insight into the complex, time-sensitive interplay of events in a production line. In contrast, 3D simulation brings these dynamics to life through visualizations and animations, offering a clear understanding of how different elements interact and affect each other over time.

CAD tools

CAD tools, on the other hand, excel in creating detailed static designs and layouts. They can show where machines and robots will be placed but lack the capability to demonstrate how these elements will operate and interact in real time. Manufacturing simulation fills this gap by not only visualizing static layouts but also animating the operational flow and timing of processes within these layouts.

Manufacturing Simulation

In summary, manufacturing simulation stands apart for its dynamic, time-based approach. It provides a more comprehensive and realistic understanding of manufacturing processes than Excel or CAD. By offering visual and animated representations of complex interactions, it enables manufacturers to accurately plan, optimize, and foresee the outcomes of their production processes, making it an essential tool in modern manufacturing.

What Our Customers Have to Say

Simulation is becoming increasingly important as the variety of products grows and their life cycle gets shorter. We run simulations in order to make the correct decisions.

Ville Yli-Jama

Manufacturing Manager at AGCO Power

Using Visual Components, we were able to achieve increased efficiency gains, reduced packaging and processing costs whilst helping our customers visualize how automation could improve overall production efficiency gains. It’s a game-changer.

George Walsh

Product Development Engineer at Digital Manufacturing, DHL

KONE logo

Visual Components is helping us to start the manufacturing development process much earlier than before, and reduce critical time to market.

Miikka Ahola

Manufacturing Solutions Manager at KONE

Midea logo

Using Visual Components, we were able to achieve lower investment and labor costs, as well as significant efficiency improvements. Total costs for the project were reduced by approximately 15%.

Kong Fanshi

Ph.D, Simulation Engineer, The Midea Group

We wanted the best technical solution and software that is compatible with as many robot brands as possible.

Erik Åstrand

Welding Optimization Specialist, Volvo CE

We were not just looking for a powerful tool to simulate robot activities, but something that could simulate the entire production chain. For this, Visual Components was the best tool.

Tero Kujamäki

Project Manager for Marine Solutions at Wärtsilä

Using Visual Components gives us a big advantage in the development of new automation or processes. We use it in almost every project to create insights, make important decisions, and provide valuable substantiation to our clients.

Bram de Vrught

Business Manager at QING Groep

The Future of Manufacturing Simulation

The future of manufacturing simulation is shaped by three key developments, focusing on collaborative digital models. This evolution marks a transition for manufacturing simulation from being a stand-alone tool to a collaborative framework where digital models are central to how teams work together.

Increased Computing Power and Advanced Algorithms: As computers become faster, simulations can run more complex scenarios in less time. The evolution of algorithms and AI, such as machine learning and genetic algorithms, will automate the optimization process. More than just finding the best mix of machines and workers, AI can assist users in the whole design workflow.

Cloud-Based Simulation and Digital Model Components: The shift towards cloud-based environments means simulations can be more accessible and collaborative. Users can create models on a web interface and send them for computation on powerful remote servers. This allows for real-time monitoring and adjustments by multiple users.

Beyond the creation and computation of models on powerful remote servers, the future lies in providing digital model “components”. Companies will likely offer these components to allow potential customers to test products beforehand, facilitating a seamless integration into existing workflows. This move towards ready-made components supports platforms that provide quality content like Visual Components. These models will be as integral to teamwork and decision-making as traditional office tools.

Integration and Automation in Simulation: With better computers, simulations can show even small details of production very clearly, catching every tiny change and its effects. The integration of AI not only automates layout designs and process optimizations but also makes simulations a integral part of daily operations.

The trend towards more detailed and integrated simulations is also driven by how companies now have much of their data readily available for use in simulations and machine learning. This signifies a future where simulations are not just tools but foundational elements in manufacturing, offering real-time, automated insights and solutions.

Ready to Step into the Future of Manufacturing?

See for yourself how Visual Components 3D manufacturing simulation solutions can help you save time, reduce costs, and improve production performance!