Steps towards a connected digital factory cost model

Christopher Tierney*, Peter Higgins, Colm Higgins, Rory Collins, Adrian Murphy, Damian Quinn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

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Digital transformation is at the forefront of manufacturing considerations, but often excludes discrete event simulation and cost modelling capabilities, meaning digital twin capabilities are in their infancy. As cost and time are critical metrics for manufacturing companies it is vital the associated tools become a connected digital capability. The aim is to digitize cost modelling functionality and its associated data requirements in order to couple cost analysis with digital factory simulation. The vast amount of data existing in today’s industry alongside the standardization of manufacturing processes has paved the way for a ‘data first’ cost and discrete event simulation environment that is required to facilitate the automated model building capabilities required to seamlessly integrate the digital twin within existing manufacturing environments.
An ISA-95 based architecture is introduced where phases within a cost modelling and simulation workflow are treated as a series of interconnected modules: process mapping (including production layout definition); data collection and retrieval (resource costs, equipment costs, labour costs, learning rates, process/activity times etc.); network and critical path analysis; cost evaluation; cost optimisation (bottleneck identification, production configuration); simulation model build; cost reporting (dashboard visualisation, KPIs, trade-offs). Different phases are linked to one another to enable automated cost and capacity analysis. Leveraging data in this manner enables the updating of standard operating procedures and learning rates in order to better understand manufacturing cost implications, such as actual cost versus forecasted, and to incorporate cost implications into scheduling and planning decisions.
Two different case studies are presented to highlight different applications of the proposed architecture. The first shows it can be used within a feasibility study to benchmark novel robotic joining techniques against traditional riveting of stiffened aero structures.
In the second case study discrete event digital factory simulations are used to supply important production metrics (process times, wait times, resource utilisation) to the cost model to provide ‘real-time’ cost modelling. This enables both time and cost to be used for more informed decision making within an ever demanding manufacturing landscape. In addition, this approach will add value to simulation processes by enabling simulation engineers to focus on value adding activities instead of time consuming model builds, data gathering and model iterations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSAE Technical Papers
PublisherSAE International
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 07 Mar 2023
EventSAE AeroTech 2023 - Fort Worth, Texas, Fort Worth, United States
Duration: 14 Mar 202316 Mar 2023

Publication series

NameSAE Technical Papers
PublisherSAE International
ISSN (Print)0148-7191
ISSN (Electronic)2688-3627


ConferenceSAE AeroTech 2023
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityFort Worth
Internet address

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering


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