The Mass Flow Conveyor (MFC) is similar to the standard conveyor objects except for a few distinct differences. The biggest difference is that each MFC section (straight or curved) can define how many lanes flow items can move along. If the MFC's output rate is not sufficent to move all of the flow items off of the end of the conveyor, the MFC will back up and all of the lanes will be filled with flow items.
The MFC is a fixed resource. It will continue to receive flow items until its maximum content value is met. Flow items will enter the MFC at the first section and move along the conveyor until it reaches the end of the last section. The MFC will then release the flow item.
The MFC is designed to handle large numbers of flow items. By default, when a flow item enters the MFC it is no longer drawn in the 3D view. Instead, a representation, or virtual flow item is drawn as a cylinder. This allows for faster drawing and less computations as the flow items move down the MFC. If visual display is important, perhaps when exporting a video of your model, the cylinders can be replaced by the 3D shape of the represented flow item, or by another 3D shape.
The virtual flow items will draw at the size specified in the MFC's properties window, not at the size of the flow item. By default, the bottle diameter and height are equal to that of a regular soda can. The color of these flow items can be set for the entire MFC, or the color can be set for each section. If you are using a 3D shape to draw your flow items with, you can cause the bottle to change its shape at each section by changing the 3D frame index or drawing a completely different 3D shape. This might be done if you want to show the state that the bottle is at as it travels along the MFC. For instance, the bottle may start out as empty, and then as it moves along the conveyor, it is filled with a liquid. Then a cap is put on the top.
Each section can have any number of decision points assigned to it. A decision point can define state change triggers with the following criteria:
The MFC doesn't implement any states, however, the individual sections and decision points do have states. You can also use the content graph to get statistics.
The MFC implements the standard set of events that a Fixed Resource implements. In addition, decision points on the MFC have the following events:
Each event has the following parameters:
|Into State||int||1 if the decision point is entering into the state, 0 if it is leaving the state|
See Decision Points above for information on each state change.
The MFC object has six tabs with various properties. The last four tabs are the standard tabs that are common to all fixed resources. For more information about the properties on those tabs, see:
The remaining two tabs, the Mass Flow Conveyor tab and the Sections tab are unique to the MFC object. The properties on these tabs will be explained in more detail in the next two sections.
The Mass Flow Conveyor tab has the following properties:
This number defines how many flow items the MFC will be allowed to hold at a given time. if this number is less than 0, the Maximum Content Based Upon Layout value will be used.
This number is calculated based upon the layout of the MFC. It is equal to each section's calculated length multiplied by the number of lanes for that section divided by the bottle diameter. If the Maximum Content is greater than the Layout's Maximum Content, flow items above the maximum content will not be drawn.
This is the diameter that each bottle, or flow item, while it is on the MFC. The diameter affects the layout of the MFC where each section's width is equal to the bottle diameter multiplied by the number of lanes in that section. This diameter overrides the size of flow items.
This is the height of each bottle, or flow item, while it is on the MFC. The height is only for visual purposes and does not affect the MFC layout. The height overrides the size of flow items.
If checked, the MFC will draw its surface.
If checked, the MFC will draw decision points.
If checked, the MFC will draw its contents. Unchecking this box so the MFC will not draw its contents can improve 3D drawing performance.
Draws all flow items as cylinders with the defined number of sides. This is the fastest method for drawing the contents of the MFC. You can define how many sides the cylinder has. The more sides, the better the cylinders will look but the slower it is to draw.
This will draw each flow item using the specified 3D shape. The more complex the shape, the slower it is to draw. If this option is selected, sections will be able to draw the MFC's shape, defined here, or they can draw a different 3D shape. This allows you to show the state of the flow item as it moves through the MFC.
This is the slowest drawing method. Each virtual flow item will be drawn using the 3D shape of the flow item. The size of the flow item is defined by the Bottle Diameter and Bottle Height of the MFC. If this option is selected, sections will be able to change the 3D shape's shape frame. This allows you to show the state of the flow item as it moves through the MFC.
Draws all flow items with the specified color. This is the fastest method for coloring the contents of the MFC.
This will color all flow items in a section the same color. Each section can define a different color or use the previous section's color.
This is the slowest coloring method. When each virtual flow item is drawn, the color of the original flow item will be copied.
This uses the MFC's color to draw all section's surface with.
This will alternate each section's surface color to make distinguishing between sections easier.
This will alternate each section and each appended section's surface color.
The Sections tab has the following properties:
This tab allows you to configure the layout of the MFC, its decision points and attached motors.
The sections list on the left side of the tab displays the list of the MFC's sections. You can add and remove sections, duplicate existing sections and reorder sections. Click on a section to display its properties to the right.
When adding a section there are three options. Straight, Curved and Appended Section. Selecting the Appended Section gives you two more options, Straight and Curved. For information on appended sections, see the Using Mass Flow Conveyors page.
|This button adds a straight, curved or appended section.|
|This button duplicates the currently selected section.|
|This button deletes the currently selected section.|
|This button reorders the currently selected section up in the list.|
|This button reorders the currently selected section down in the list.|
This tab displays each section's properties which include layout, behavior and visuals. It has the following options:
If the MFC uses Color flow items by section, the following options will be available:
If the MFC uses Draw the unique shape of each flow item, the following option will be available:
If the MFC uses Draw the same shape for each flow item, the following options will be available:
This tab displays the currently selected section's decision points. It has the following options:
This tab displays the currently selected section's connected motors. It has the following options: