All of our manufacturing plants are different, but they also have common functional areas. When we create FlexSim models for a particular plant, the models are typically mostly hand-build from scratch. We do borrow from previous work, but different DES analysts have different ways of doing things, which is fine, but there is no consistency and it leads to inefficiently reinventing the wheel in many cases.
We call these "snowflake" models because no two are the same, even though there are definite similarities (like being 6-sided, like all snowflakes). Still, each model is essentially handcrafted. This is probably not uncommon.
Our typical approach is to build the next model based on previous experience, and perhaps employ User Libraries as a way to copy-over 3D objects, Process Flow modules, FlexScript code, etc. from an existing similar model to the new one. Even simple Ctrl-C / Ctrl-V works for many items (like entire Planes full of objects). But none of it is formalized in any way.
We are wondering if anyone has had success creating easily portable functional areas of plants. Essentially composed of all 3D, or all Process Flow, or a combination of both, in a packaged set of "black boxes". These black boxes would have common agreed-upon inputs, common data formats, common outputs, and common configuration options (in case something is not quite exactly the same).
I guess you could call it the modular Lego approach to being able airlift common functionality into models, from a common library. Or, start each project with a master pre-fab model with everything stocked in it. The DES analyst then removes, rearranges, and tweaks things as needed to arrive at a model that works well for the next plant.
Kind of like carving an elephant out of granite - you start with a granite block and chip away everything that doesn't look like an elephant.
So we're looking for tips on overall strategy, successful attempts at standardization, best practices on modularity and maintainability, and maybe even what it might take to automate the creation of FlexSim models in some way that we've not yet thought of.
The end game being:
1) faster production of FlexSim models
2) predictable consistency between different plant models
3) easier maintainability, and
4) a shallower learning curve
I am sure this is a common theme for other enterprise DES users.
Thanks for any thoughts!