Simulation as a Tool for Optimizing Automated Laboratory Equipment and Processes?
Simulation als Werkzeug zur Optimierung von automatisierten Labor-Maschinen und -Prozessen
In the design of complex automated manufacturing equipment simulation technology has increasingly developed into an essential planning tool which is highly used in the field of semiconductor industry. In the field of laboratory technology a similar trend towards automated systems or automated sequencing of systems can be found. This results in the question if the use of simulation can help detecting optimization potentials in the design of laboratory equipment as well as in laboratory processes. By means of a case study out of the field of clean productio n the elaborated results help to show the benefits of simulation as a planning tool. With the help of simulation a material flow- and throughput optimized equipment design and therefore required equipment control strategies were ascertained in several iterative runs. The system installation, being in its development stage, was represented realistically in a detailed simulation model. The performance of the system in operation was visu alized and then analyzed. Thus, bottlenecks could be localized easily and the equipment design and dimensioning could be reviewed. With the selective simulative examination of different optimization approaches the equipment manufacturer was provided with important data for economical- and investment decisions. The use of simulation technology provides a high planning reliability and helps to avoid planning mistakes already in the stage of system development. This advantages could also be used in future developments in the field of laboratory automation.