Almost in every discipline involved in Product and Production Development (PPD), optimization problems arrive. These real-world problems are too complex to be solved by analytical models and classical optimization methods. CAx and Virtual Manufacturing (VM) tools are on the other hand being employed more and more to create virtual representation models of the products under development and their related production facilities, processes, and systems in a virtual environment before any physical realization is conducted. Synergy of these two domains is of interest in this paper where a PPD problem requiring planning a process with the minimum cycle-time for assembling a spot welded sheet-metal product was solved. The methodology suggests an extendible virtual manufacturing-based optimization approach using evolutionary algorithms. The methodology is also required to be partially compliant to the concept of integrated Product-Process-Resource planning and optimization. An optimization tool is developed accordingly for operation sequence optimization integrated with a commercial VM environment.

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