Fujitsu has introduced new software for simulating the movements of production line workers, which is designed for customers in the manufacturing industry, such as automobile parts suppliers and precision electronics manufacturers. GP4 was developed by Lexer Research, which has extensive experience and expertise in the preparatory processes for manufacturing operations. A 40% reduction in production line assembly time was achieved in an early-release [beta-release] deployment of the software. The new software is available starting in May, 2011 in Japan.
In the manufacturing industry in recent years, great progress has been made in the area of production innovation prior to actual production, including virtual product design using 3D CAD, or simulations of assembly processes as opposed to relying on production prototypes. However, as workers are the key to raising productivity on a production line, it is difficult to perform verification in virtual environments, necessitating a resort to a process of trial-and-error on the production line in order to improve efficiency.
With GP4, users at the production preparation stage can create a virtual production line and run simulations on factors including the most efficient movements or positions of production workers, the optimal alignment of workers in relation to the flow of a production line, and the time required to complete specific production tasks. As a result, in addition to enabling greater efficiency in assembly work on a production line from the standpoint of people, the product enables workers to benchmark their work against the simulation results and share their understanding of problem areas with co-workers, leading to improvements on the front lines of assembly plants. In addition, by using GP4 in conjunction with Fujitsu’s virtual product simulator (VPS), a 3D virtual verification simulation tool for verifying assembly processes, users are able to verify the optimization of assembly processes from the dual perspectives of both the end product and the workers on the production line, thereby further improving manufacturing productivity.
Production line optimization through simulations of the movements of production line workers.
Fujitsu claims the GP4 is user-friendly even for novices. Training is required to effectively use CAD, but GP4 is very user-friendly enabling first-time users who have never used simulation software to employ it. Designs of the virtual production line used in the simulation can be completed quickly by using the roughly 400 different types of virtual equipment templates built-in to the software.
May 2011 onwards (currently only in Japan)