Columbus Superconductors

The Customer

Columbus Superconductors S.p.A. was incorporated in Genoa in 2003 as a start-up resulting from the collaboration between ASG Superconductors, CNR-INFM (the Italian National Research Council) and a group of researchers.

Today Columbus Superconductors is a world leader in cutting-edge technology of magnesium diboride (MgB2), and in the transformation of this superconducting material into long, versatile and highly reliable wire superconductors. The company is vertically integrated, from research and development to applications and from production to sale

Columbus produces a new generation superconducting wire, which required special attention to, and care of the production processes to meet the needs of the world of research and of the energy and med-tech sectors, to which it is targeted.

Vincenzo Giori

CEO, Columbus Superconductors

The project

The project objectives were:

  • to check plant and related process sizing on the basis of the steady-state workload forecast (in 2014);
  • to provide Columbus with guidelines for production planning and work orders sequencing;
  • to provide Columbus with recommendations for placement within the factory of inter-operational stores necessary for the correct balancing of the production flow;
  • to identify opportunities for further expansion of the plant production capacity.

The simulation model realized had to take account a large set of information and parameters, in particular:

  • Sales Forecast: types and quantities of products by customer;
  • Plant Layout and material flows of the various Departments;
  • Speed and processing times by Department;
  • Efficiency parameters by plant, process and workforce;
  • Annual work schedule;
  • Semi-finished material requirements;
  • Production planning logic.

Why the simulation

In 2010 Columbus Superconductors S.p.A. issued an Industrial Plan which provided for the expansion of its business of production and sale of superconducting wires for the four-year period 2011-2014, with a very significant increase in the quantities to be produced and the articulation on a mix of 5 basic products.
The Industrial Plan therefore provided for the construction of new production units in the factory located in Genoa, in the San Desiderio area.
The first sizing of these systems was carried out by Columbus with traditional tools; the need to verify this sizing through more advanced and performing tools immediately emerged, and the company decided to entrust Iso Sistemi with the creation of a numerical simulator capable of providing an effective response to this need.
The simulation is a tool capable of giving a very detailed representation of the operational operation of the plant, taking into account all the elements, both relating to the production mix and sales forecasts, and to the characteristics of the plants and the use of single work.

The results

The simulation results confirmed that the production plant and the related process and workforce provided for in the Columbus Strategic Plan were adequate to meet the sales forecast in 2014, also showing a marginal extra-capacity (3%).
The simulation allowed to highlight an important bottleneck to the finishing rolling stage and the opportunity to make some changes in the use of the plants and in the management logic.
The opportunities for further expansion of production capacity were also evaluated, by exploring some additional scenarios.

Role of Iso Sistemi

Iso Sistemi has addressed this problem in accordance with its established methodology, based on the concept of Model as a representation of an economic and productive reality.
Each economic and productive process can be schematized as the transformation of a set of resources (Entities) into a “final product” through a series of activities (processes) and a set of limited resources.
Iso Sistemi used for the simulation its own advanced solution for the numerical simulation of industrial plants and processes, based on the Tecnomatix Plant Simulation® tool of Siemens PLM Software.