Herrenknecht – Simulation of a new circulation system

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Simulation of a new circulation system for Herrenknecht Formwork

For one of the largest European construction projects, Herrenknecht was asked to plan a new production concept in an existing production hall. Due to limited space and high labor costs in Germany, the decision was quickly made to use a circulation system with a high degree of automation.

In the circulation system, the formwork moves along a working line where the steps of stripping, cleaning, oiling, inserting reinforcement, closing the formwork, concreting and surface finishing are carried out one after the other. Here, the formwork moves from position to position in a cycle similar to an assembly line in the automotive industry. After the activities on the working line, the formwork is moved to a curing oven, where it undergoes a certain cycle time for the hardening of the concrete, depending on the cycle and the number of positions available.

In addition to the above-mentioned requirements for space and automation, our customer had further limitations with regard to the working and curing time of the concrete. For example, all the formwork had to be filled once within a shift and all the formwork also had to be brought into the curing oven. This reduced the available cycle time for the respective work stations.

For the subsequent further use of the plant, the concrete batching plants were to be placed at a location relatively far away from the filling station. This results in long travel times for the concrete transport buckets. For each formwork, a transport bucket has to fetch concrete twice and bring it to the filling station. In addition, braking and acceleration processes, as well as cornering at low speed, were expected to have an impact on the total cycle time.

The demand for labor-saving automation was met at several points in the planning. For example, the formwork opens automatically when the stripping position is reached. Cleaning of the formwork was to be carried out by robot. Closing of the formwork and surface finishing is also partially or fully automated. For reasons of the required production volume, a second circulation system was planned mirrored in the adjacent hall, which, however, has no effect on the individual cycle time of a system.

The combination of the many different operations and logistic processes did not allow a manual determination of the cycle time, especially of the concrete supply and curing processes. For this reason, SimPlan was commissioned to simulate all processes. This required that all plant and machine parts be simulated with their individual speeds and sequences.

The plant was simulated using AnyLogic as an agent-based simulation. A decisive reason for selecting AnyLogic as the development environment for a simulation model was the free use of the simulation model by Herrenknecht and its customer. AnyLogic offers the option of exporting a standalone Java application or making it available in the AnyLogic cloud, so that the simulation can be easily passed on to customers for independent use.

In addition to mapping the process logic, mapping the plant in 3D for demonstration to the end customer was a fundamental part of the simulation project. This required the transformation and import of CAD models into the simulation tool. In addition to the moving agents, specific components such as the cleaning robot and the formwork covers were also animated in 3D.

The finished simulation model of the circulation plant allows user input of parameters regarding cycle time and pause times. The result of the simulation was that the conceptualized plant can deliver the corresponding output of precast concrete parts. However, the limits were also simulated, i.e. at which cycle time the curing times or available shift times can no longer be met.

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