Optimizing Plant Floor Layout via Virtual Engineering

Mar 5, 2019 | , , , , ,

The question: How do you cost-effectively optimize your plant floor layout while considering adding new machinery and automation to the mix?


The answer: Thanks to virtual engineering — made possible by the IronCAD Design Collaboration Suite — you can optimize plant floor layouts while saving time, money, and angst.


Virtual engineering allows you to quickly model all your shop’s machines and features into a “virtual reality” presentation that you can then manipulate to develop an optimal plant floor layout, while avoiding any costly mistakes in the real world.


What is virtual engineering? It’s the process of visualizing as much as possible during the conceptualization and planning phases, before any building is undertaken.


Virtual engineering starts with taking a 3D “snapshot” of your existing plant floor layout, which can then be quickly imported into your CAD platform as an engineering model. Your existing robots and machines can be automatically integrated into this 3D picture, along with any potential new machines or work cells you’re considering adding to the mix, once you import CAD models for them.


Let’s say, for example, that you’re considering adding new robots to your workflow, but you’re not sure how exactly everything will be organized in your new plant floor layout. With a 3D scanner and IronCAD, you can quickly develop a plan of action. First, scan your facility to create a 3D model of your existing factory. Then, import models for your new equipment into IronCAD catalogs and begin experimenting with them to create your new plant floor layout.



Within IronCAD’s Unified Design Environment, you can quickly and easily move the “parts” you’ve added to your catalog around to create a virtual plant floor layout and begin to determine how the new robotic equipment will fit in. You can then use those design files as a basis for running simulations to determine which plant floor layout will best optimize your operation.


The Cost Benefits of a Virtual Engineering Tool

This ability to experiment in the virtual space, facilitated by a CAD platform like IronCAD that can handle everything from a machine design to a complex plant floor layout in a single file, expedites the plant floor design process by facilitating early-and-often communication between all stakeholders. Imagine being able to review a virtual representation of your plant floor and make changes in response to feedback in real time. IronCAD can do that, expediting the design and review process to build consensus and make decisions more quickly.


Trying things out virtually also reduces the risk of making actual mistakes once equipment has been purchased and installation is imminent. Basically, virtual engineering lets you work out any kinks in your plant floor layout before you fully commit, allowing you to see things more clearly in advance (vs. lamenting the fact that hindsight is 20/20).


With IronCAD’s virtual engineering capabilities, reduced implementation and overrun cost savings can include:

  • 30% savings in reducing geometrical errors collisions, gaps, heights, etc.
  • 30% savings in reducing communication and planning requirements
  • 20% savings in supplier management
  • 20% savings in lifecycle engagement and documentation

Additionally, our experience indicates that this iterative approach to plant floor layout via virtual engineering can reduce a facility’s footprint by 30 or 40 percent, thus increasing floor space for additional equipment — and additional capacity — in an existing space.

Find the Right CAD Platform for Virtual Plant Floor Layout

Cost-effective plant floor layout optimization begins with virtual engineering, which is facilitated by the right CAD platform. The IronCAD Design Collaboration Suite provides all the tools you need to reduce the time and effort required for visualizing large-scale plant layout projects in a virtual space.



With IronCAD-supported virtual engineering, you’ll be able to more easily engage all stakeholders in your project and create a clear 3D picture with design integrity that can then be quickly translated into the actual engineering process once consensus has been reached. To learn more about how to harness this powerful combination of design and communication for plant floor layout, contact your authorized IronCAD reseller.