Simulation based design helped to increase capacity up to 40%

Production control in virtual environment

“Plenty of money was saved in investment phase and it was easy to see what was achieved with the money invested into the new system.”
– Mika Leiponen / HK Ruokatalo Oyj

“Normally, the functionality of these kind of systems can be verified for the first time after the real installation. Now everything can be tested beforehand.”
– Ismo Ågren / ICL Data Oy

HK Ruokatalo Oyj

HK Ruokatalo Oyj is a Finnish food industry company. It has a big terminal in Vantaa, from where all food is delivered to Helsinki surroundings. The bottleneck in the terminal was the sorter, which was built in 1990. A new sorter was not wanted, but intensification of the old one was needed.


The objective of the project was to increase the capacity (an increase of at least 30 %) by making the control system more effective with as small an investment as possible. The goal was also to define the new system and to verify the capacity in different load and failure situations. The task was to simulate the design as well as to test and further develop the control software developed by ICL Data Oy. The new idea of designing and implementing a control system was to use a simulation model as testing platform. This was done by connecting the control software to a 3D simulation software and hence to the sorter simulation model with Delfoi Integrator. ICL Data Oy built the real software based on the simulation.


The control system and the sorter were simulated accurately so their effect to the system capacity and its bottlenecks could be examined carefully. Through simulation an average increase of 40 % in capacity and 67 % in maximum capacity was achieved.

When one of the three levels of the sorter was replaced by a new one and this was conformed in the simulation, the capacity of the new level was on average 30 – 50 % higher than the capacity of the two other levels. During couple of weeks of testing no control software bugs were found in the real system. The simulation model was now ready for further development.

Integration offers a development and testing platform for new applications and systems. Scheduling, optimisation, routing and overall functionality can be tested in advance. Total integration gives a possibility to test the whole system in advance. Existing (real)control software can be used to run simulation applications, which enables simulation that is more accurate.

Less overlapping appears in programming. Flexible and complex control systems can be tested and designed with simulation model. Thus shorter introduction times for installed systems and a more accurate size of investment is achieved. Also the control can be designed to be more sophisticated. Production planning scenarios can be simulated with real time production data or with real order lists. Virtual systems enable also the training of the personnel; both shop floor employees and PPS system users.