0.3 Blueprint: produce

Articles April 2021

1. Anchors and material build up façade


In the last newsletter we talked about the challenges ahead. We divided them into several details. From these details we are working towards a static BIM model. In the near future this digital model will provide us with an impression of the final product. In this newsletter we would like to go into details 4 (anchors) and 6 (material build up façade).

Detail 4: anchors

Together with a company that specializes in anchors, we have developed a system to ensure that the on-site mounting time is significantly reduced. Currently, the on-site mounting team is working on calculations to demonstrate that the new system is reducing assembly time and therefore we are working towards a cost reduction as a result.

Detail 6: material build up façade

Various tests are currently taking place at suppliers of materials and RC Panels:

- We are testing the strength of the material. This helps the constructors determine how many anchors to install with our panels so that it can withstand wind. These tests are done at RC Panels and a supplier of High Density EPS.

- Adhesive residues (glue) are not good for circularity at the end of the life cycle. We can scrape the glue off the EPS, but there will always be contaminated material that ends up in the incinerator. We are currently working with a machine builder to see if we can connect the EPS panels without using glue.

We are also looking at the fire safety. EPS is currently still fire class E in accordance with EN-13501. This is currently being made safe by applying a barrier by sticking another material to the outside of the EPS. We are investigating with a supplier of raw material whether we can bring the material EPS to a better fire class.

Our next steps are to continue testing and designing the details of the roof and its connection to the façade.

2. Manufacturing process model for process Blueprint

Our manufacturing process model is constructed and evaluated using a discrete-event simulation which is performed using the commercial software Siemens Tecnomatix plant simulation. In this environment each event occurs at a specific instant of time and trigger changes in the simulation.

The simulation model shown in the figure below allows the analysis of:

  • the material flow,
  • the manufacturing cost,
  • the energy and the resource usage
  • as well as the logistics inside the factory.

It shows simulation objects which are mainly individual manufacturing stations and associated processes within the production lines and the factory. Each individual process is further defined using several attributes such as the duration or any allocated resource to quantify the performance of that process.



Discrete event-based simulation of the Production - Station usage and Power Input - Tecnomatix Plant simulation

This model, shown in figure 3, is a prerequisite to understand the renovation package manufacturing process, for a given production scale it can estimate the floor space requirement as well as the different manufacturing durations. In addition, the model can show the bottle neck processes in the whole production line and therefore can identify any potential improvement through optimisation.

The results from the process modelling work are critical to establish the factory size and layout, the outputs of this simulation work are also the foundation of the manufacturing cost estimation.


Discrete event-based simulation of the Production – Cutting section - Tecnomatix Plant simulation

Contribution: Gwenole Henry, Karl preiss, Xiu T Yan, Strathclude University, Scotland

3. 2D physical layout Blueprint

CAD is used to edit the production lines in 2D to estimate floor sizes in X+Y. There is potential to also check certain overhead clearances in Z as well to look for potential clashes and misalignments and correctly align the overhead logistics storage to the same factory layout. By using layers, it is possible to switch between displayed and hidden details if required.

As the master source of layout data, changes and problems can be quickly dealt with and shared between ourselves and Buro de Haan to help us collaborate effectively.

The current layout shown in the figure below is based on all stations sized to process 12000mm panels with a 14000mm station pitch and in-line buffering. This a challenge to fit into the factory, so alternative schemes are being considered, including shorter workstations and re-arranged processes.

The CAD layouts can be used as 2D layouts within PLM simulation tools to act as a guide for positioning equipment in simulations to the agreed floor plan and for creating 3D outline elements. Accordingly, the Siemens Tecnomatix simulations can be exported back into AutoCAD as 3D in Figure 7 and displayed and manipulated quickly in 2D to update the blueprint plan.


2D viewpoint of CAD floor plan factory layout (under review)

Contribution: Gwenole Henry, Karl preiss, Xiu T Yan, Strathclude University, Scotland

4. 3D manufacturing simulation Blueprint

We have started to build 3D manufacturing blueprint and kinematic models of the factory using several interfaces, including Robot vendor programming software and PLM offline simulation tools. PLM simulations are digital manufacturing solutions for manufacturing process verification in a 3D environment.  They are fully integrated with the product bill of material (BoM) and the manufacturing bill of process (BoP), thus enabling manufacturing engineers to reuse, author and validate manufacturing processes for various product configurations.

Various 3 D manufacturing process models are shown in Figures 6.1 to 6.6 and the manufacturing operations to be simulated include:

                        I.         Robotic window and door installation

                       II.         Robotic glass fiber chop spray

                      III.         Tile / brick slip laying

                     IV.         Robotic cutting / trimming of panels

Kinematic Simulation is also investigated and covers:

  1. Data Analysis - interaction of robots and workstation tooling
  2. Tool access, robot reach and product feasibility
  3. Cycle time confirmation
  4. Product-Process development

During the simulation, all condition of robots, IO signal from sensors and other machineries (Conveyors, Gantries) can be tracked and monitored in real-time. This also allows the evaluation of the feasibility and safety of the planned process.

Simulation time and other production data, such as motor power and total energy can be recorded. This helps estimate production time, production rate, and power consumption in the process planning.




Manufacturing process model - PLM process simulation – Robot door load and collaborative fastening.

Contribution: Gwenole Henry, Karl preiss, Xiu T Yan, Strathclude University, Scotland 

Articles January 2021

1. Confirming the energy effectiveness of proposed dwelling upgrades  

We are developing a state-of-the-art simulation-base procedure to confirm the efficacy of a proposed dwelling upgrade (based on the open source ESP-r system, which was initially developed with European Commission support). Where the impact across a range of indicators relating to energy use, indoor environmental conditions and environmental emissions are deemed unacceptable, exploratory simulations may be undertaken in support of upgrade package refinement. To ensure that the simulations are realistic vis-à-vis the reality, high resolution dwelling models are constructed for representative dwellings in an estate.

As summarised in Figure 1, the models comprise descriptions of 3D form, construction material properties, internal fittings & furnishings, heating system & hot water components, solar thermal/PV panels, the low voltage electrical network, control system components, air & moisture flow paths, room contaminant sources, and occupant behaviour.


Figure 1: Aspects active in a high resolution model of dwelling

The required information is collated from sources such as construction drawings, manufacturers’ data, site visits and the building standards prevailing at the time of dwelling construction. It may be expected that the future evolution of the BIM standard will simplify this data collection activity.

The simulation outcomes provide the spatial and temporal distribution of performance aspects such as those depicted in the examples of Figure 2. Within the procedure, these data are automatically probed (spatially and temporally) and the outcomes compared with agreed standards of performance to confirm overall acceptability. The approach enables performance assessments under a spectrum of weather influences and occupant behaviours and supports upgrade adaptation to suit specific cases.


glare & daylight


indoor air quality


energy & control


thermal bridges & mould


clean combustion


local power quality

Figure 2 – Spatial/ temporal performance data from a dwelling simulation.

Within the project to date, the procedure has been applied to 3 typical dwelling types (terraced, semi-detached and apartment) when located in different climate zones; and to a showcase dwelling owned by the Domijn Housing Cooperation in Enschede in the Netherlands. Table 1, for example, gives the impact on the space heating demand of the semi-detached archetype at different locations and for progressive upgrade levels. 

Table 1: Semi-detached dwelling, space heating demand for sandwich panels currently available on the market (kWh/m2.y) (a similar calculation with the INDU-ZERO product will follow soon)






121 ± 2.6

125 ± 3.2

170 ± 3.7

+ construction upgrade

  60 ± 1.8

  63 ± 2.5

  80 ± 2.4

+ airtightness & MVHR

  36 ± 0.8

  42 ± 1.3

  52 ± 1.4

+ underfloor insulation

    8 ± 0.9

    9 ± 1.3

  20 ± 1.2

The deliverables from the project will include information on the data required to construct high resolution simulation models, an automated procedure for the simulation processing of models to confirm upgrade efficacy, and the results from performance assessments of the project’s showcase dwellings.

Contribution: Joe Clarke, Jon Hand & Paul Tuohy, Strathclyde University, Scotland

2. Smart Factory Logistics


Conceptual image of the EPS ground block storage, which is operated by autonomous overhead cranes Source: barbaric.at

In terms of logistics, a lot has happened since the last newsletter article in February 2020.

In inbound logistics, the various autonomous unloading and unpacking options were analyzed and assigned to the respective material classes. As the factory is divided into two floors and the warehouse is on the first floor, the arriving trucks must first pass a ramp to get to the eight unloading ramps. Three unloading ramps can be assigned to our largest material class, EPS. These ramps are equipped with a special roller conveyor system which is integrated into the floor. When a trailer docks to the loading ramp, the rollers are able to unload the truck by themselves. The system is also used for all materials that are delivered on standardized euro pallets. In addition to the automated solutions, there is only one unloading ramp that is still served by manual forklifts.

Besides inbound logistics, the size of the warehouse was calculated and the various storage systems and technologies were specified. With a storage period of 5 days, the warehouse on the second floor takes up an area of 14,000 m2, transportation ways included. If we assume a max. ceiling height of 5 m, the required storage space is around 42,000 m3. Furthermore, the warehouse is divided into 3 storage types:

  • Ground block storage for all bulk materials
  • Tanks for liquid materials
  • Pallet rack for all materials stored on euro pallets

In the warehouse, the latest autonomous systems are used for the respective storage types, which guarantee self-organizing storage without human intervention.

In outbound logistics, it was possible to agree early on that there would be two options for loading trucks. Since the panels produced are stored and picked using overhead cranes, they should also be used directly for loading trucks. This means that the acquisition of new technology and systems can be avoided and the processes can be kept lean. On the other hand, there is also the possibility that the trucks, which already have a built-in crane, can load the panels themselves.

The next newsletter logistics article will be about the possibilities of CO2 savings in logistics. In this context, the location planning of the factory and the combined transports to the construction sites are considered in particular.

Contribution: Bennet Zander, Jade University of Applied Sciences, Germany

3. Product concepts

After gathering all of the ideas within the project team, the team selected the ideas that were feasible. During a so called pressure cook session several complete product concepts were created by different multidisciplinary groups. After creating the concepts, the group evaluated each other’s concepts regarding project goals and requirements. This resulted in a winning and final concept for the product freeze.

Every concept contained 3 topics:
-        Production: logistics and assembly
-        Building-site: logistics and mounting
-        Product: façade and roof

Working together based on this final product concept created the opportunity to scope on the best ideas. The INDU-ZERO team that is designing the production lines are able to detail their design with this information. After evaluating the winning concept, insight was gained into underlaying challenges. 

Minimize installation time for placing façade and roof elements at the building site:

- A modular system that mounts the panels directly onto the anchoring without screws in or through the panel is being explored.
- A system that easily connects roof and façade together is being explored.

Remove roof elements from existing building: tiles, chimney, roof windows, gutter, barge boards and cornice takes too much time:

Creating a renovation package that ensures that these elements can remain on the existing house is being explored.
- A way to replace scaffolding with a gantry crane above the buildings is being explored.

Remove window frames and glass from existing building and finish inside around the window frames takes too much time:

A solution for frameless windows is being explored.

Reduce and or eliminate different types of material.

Using High Density EPS instead of Glass Reinforce Polyester is being explored on different ideas.

The team that is designing the product and the team that is designing the production lines are in close contact with each other to anticipate the consequences of any changes. It is expected that this last iteration will only bring minor changes.

The focus for the next 6 months is on making a final digital model for the renovation packages.


Contribution: Jacob Lub and Marthijn Kooiker, Buro de Haan, the Netherlands


Article September 2020

Creation of first smart factory blueprint

The development of the smart factory blueprint has been progressing smoothly and in order to capture the complexity of the scope, the blueprint is designed to have 4 different layers. This approach is also allowing the members of the factory design team to parallelise their tasks while exchanging inputs to refine their respective models. The 4 different layers are: 

- Manufacturing process model Blueprint
- 2-D physical layout Blueprint
- 3-D like manufacturing simulation
- VR blueprint

Our vision is that the assembly lines need to be flexible and smart enough so parts from different elements could be machined on the same stations. At this stage of the design we are assuming that the factory is aiming to product 3 main categories of elements:

  • Roof element
  • Long façade side element
  • Façade element

According to this approach we are planning to have the same cutting and milling stations for all the elements manufactured in the factory.

In order to understand the manufacturing process as well estimating the number of stations required to product the targeted number of elements, we have been simulating the factory workflow of the new factory using discrete-event simulation software package: JaamSim and the part of the smart factory model is shown in Figure 1.



Figure 1 3-D like manufacturing simulation for a spraying operation


To understand the timings required, manufacturing process simulation has been taking input from 3-D like manufacturing simulations performed for each manufacturing station. Initial results of the process simulation indicate that the manufacturing demands can be made by current blueprint design in 2 shifts, producing 525 elements per day.

Given the ambition that the production target is 519 elements manufactured per day, the simulation results suggest the blueprint ia able to meet this criteria with 2 x 8h production shifts per day scenario,  we also think that this scenario could allow to stop the production during 8h each day for cleaning and maintenance.  

Figure 2 is a first version of 3D layout for the factory blueprint. Even it’s not a definitive version, this model provides essential information regarding the required building size and it’s also able to demonstrate that the management of the buffer zones and storage areas will have a major impact on the factory performance.   



Figure 2 Proposed factory blueprint

Note: Copyright of the images is with the University of Strathclyde

Contribution: Xiu-Tian YAN, University of Strathclyde, United Kingdom