Case studiesEmulate3DEmulationSimulationLogistex simulate and emulate major B&Q project with Emulate3D

January 24, 20220

Logistex have more than 50 years’ experience in designing and delivering intelligent, productive, bespoke and cost-effective warehouse management solutions.

Logistex have been using Emulate3D software from AutoLogic Systems for over five years to create accurate 3D models that enable their in-house Solution Design Engineers to plan, test and demonstrate their equipment in real time.

Emulate3D is developed by Rockwell Automation for whom AutoLogic is a value-added reseller.

How Emulate3D works

Emulate3D allows you to create a digital twin of your system or operation and test in an office environment. As well as creating detailed 3D simulation models, you can develop, test, and produce robust PLC and mid-level control systems offline, before building the real system. Controls emulation saves time and money by testing the control system before going on-site; shortens the project’s critical path with virtual commissioning and reduces overall testing time.

By using a 3D model to provide realistic feedback in place of the real automated system, operator training becomes safer, cheaper, and does not disrupt existing production.

Major Tote Handling System gets tested in digital twin

Logistex recently used the software to simulate and emulate a £10m project for B&Q at their Distribution Centre in Worksop, UK. The solution brings together a range of technologies including a pallet decant system, Goods To Person (GTP) stations, a tote shuttle system, and robotic palletisers. The system is operated by Wincanton on behalf of B&Q and represents a long-term strategic alliance between the two companies.

Due to significant growth plans, B&Q needed to increase their Worksop site capability to 2,100,000 cases dispatched per week. Working closely with B&Q, the Logistex Solution Design Engineers developed a solution that would meet these expansion needs whilst also improving site efficiency. Simulation and emulation were used to prove performance and minimise risk to the operation.

The solution comprised over 100 shuttles in five aisles, an inbound and outbound elevator per aisle, numerous Sequence Buffers, each with an infeed and outfeed elevator, and a Tote Conveyor connecting it all together.

Steve Walsh, Solutions Design Engineer at Logistex says: “We always need to be 100% confident that a new system can handle the customer’s needs and Emulate3D enables us to do this. It can take months of vigorous testing to ensure a system will deliver exactly what is needed and that the Warehouse Control System can support it. Using emulation and simulation means all of the testing can be done in a digital twin before any hardware is installed or even purchased.”

In the case of the new tote system, Logistex were able to create the digital twin to test the required throughputs of their customer and also add order logic to ensure typical orders and order lines could be handled.

The Sequence Buffers were then simulated to help in deciding on the necessary algorithms needed to drive them. These were then added to the simulation to ensure everything would still work. Varying order and stock storage profiles were run through the simulation to see how the system could best be used. All outputs, variables and configurations could be clearly demonstrated and discussed with the customer throughout the process using the impressive 3D visuals within Emulate3D.

Next comes real time Emulation

The simulation was then turned into an emulation within Emulate3D, where all messaging between Logistex’s in-house WCS, LWS Reflex, and the new hardware was used to drive the model exactly as it would the live system.

This has resulted in Logistex being able to test multiple scenarios in a virtual, controlled environment, such as contractual throughput obligations to be met, stock spread, stock allocation, shuttle utilisation, elevator utilisation, Sequence Buffer logic, order release logic, error scenarios and aisle access messaging.

Graphics even better than the real thing

Steve concludes: “Not only does the Emulate3D testing environment provide high degrees of accuracy, but the state-of-the-art graphics make it so easy for us and the customer to visualise how the end system will look and operate. Customers sometimes even say they wish they could colour code their entire warehouse process like we can in the software! It gives everybody the confidence that any new investment will meet their needs for both the short and long term.”

To find out more about using Emulate3D on your projects email or call 01844 281380.

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