Students learning together Copyright: © Martin Braun


Project logo SMARTER  

SiMulAtionsbasieRTe ExploRation des Systemverhaltens von Produktionssystemen in einem digitalen Planungsansatz (Simulation Based Exploration of Production Systems Behavior in a Digital Planning Approach)


Key Info

Basic Information

01.05.2020 to 28.02.2021
Research Area:
Modeling and Simulating Complex Work Processes and Systems



Susanne Mütze-Niewöhner

Head of Work Organization Department


+49 241 80 99451




The project SMARTER is funded within the framework of Exploratory Teaching Space (ETS). ETS is a project of the RWTH Aachen University to promote projects of the university departments to improve the education. The aim of the project SMARTER was to make the education of the module “Dynamische Unternehmensmodellierung und -simulation” (Dynamic Enterprise Modelling and Simulation) more practice-oriented. A realistic case study was prepared and the students, who came from numerous master’s degree programs, modeled and simulated the problems with the help of current 3D simulation software. The focus of this project was the development of important key skills, which were promoted by dealing with the software and confronting typical practical challenges.


In today’s volatile market environment, digitalized (re)planning of production systems with 3D material-flow simulation software is becoming increasingly important. Current technological developments make it possible to explore different manufacturing scenarios in virtual space and to create digital twins of production systems. These new possibilities also bring along new challenges for (prospective) engineers, as these software tools often require various programming skills that can only partially be taught to students during their studies. So far, the process modelling methods taught in the course “Dynamic Enterprise Modelling and Simulation” have been learned using the “paper and pencil” method. Thus, a major challenge for the students is to independently familiarize themselves with a new software and to use the learned methods of process modelling with material flow simulation.


The aim was to offer an opportunity to learn the practical application of current material flow simulation software in a digitally supported case study as part of the course “Dynamic Enterprise Modelling and Simulation”. For this purpose, problems are modeled and simulated in small groups. These didactically prepared problems, which are based on operational practice, are to be solved with the help of independently developed 3D simulation models. The results are then to be assessed in terms of specified economic and ergonomic requirements to derive recommendations for the design of the production system under consideration.


  1. Development of an educational concept for the application of material flow simulation

    Digital training materials were provided to explain the basic software functions and familiarize the students with the simulation tool. In addition, exercises were developed that could be used by the students to deepen and expand their knowledge of the tool. Screenshots and tutorial videos were offered to help the students do the exercises independently.
  2. Development of a case study for the practical application of the methods learned

    The case study aimed at the selection, planning, and controlling of a development project in mechanical engineering. It was provided to the students to accompany the lectures. The practical application of the course’s theoretical knowledge fostered key skills. The students learned to organize themselves as a group and they worked together to analyze and evaluate information, reach the appropriate conclusions, and make decisions. Thereby, the students learned to deal with uncertainties in operational practice and to plan by discussing probabilities, making plausible assumptions, and defining scenarios from which they could derive recommendations based on their simulation results. Finally, the students presented the results in a final event.


The case study in the course “Dynamic Enterprise Modelling and Simulation” created an interface between the theoretical content of the lectures and its practical application. The students were enabled to apply the modelling and simulation methods taught to issues in business practice. In addition, they were familiarized with the current state of the art in simulation software and confronted with its possibilities and limitations. Based on economic and ergonomic criteria, the students were able to derive recommendations for the design of the production system under consideration.


The SMARTER project is funded by Exploratory Maschi-Teching Space (EMTS). EMTS is an internal RWTH platform that promotes new digital teaching and learning concepts.