PMC helped a major automaker design the layout of a parts warehouse. Using simulation, researchers determined the staffing levels that different proposed layouts needed to achieve the facility’s targeted throughput.
The proposed warehouse was to receive, store and distribute windshields and many parts associated with them. One group of resources, the “pickers,” were to traverse the warehouse picking parts out of inventory to fill purchase orders. Other resources, the “restockers,” were to continually replenish inventory. The physical layout of the plant was not yet determined; one proposal called for a two-tier system, with inventory arranged along seven aisles, while another prescribed a one-tier system and thirteen aisles.
Pickers and restockers were to work simultaneously, which raised issues of traffic flow, material flow and safety. Also, it was known that the warehouse would have to attain a high level of throughput, but the automaker wished to achieve this aim with a minimum of workers in order to limit labor costs. Given all these complications, the automaker needed to determine optimum warehouse configuration prior to construction, in order to prevent the future expense of high staff levels or overhaul of the physical layout.
The objective was to determine how many workers were required to safely and reliably produce a total throughput of 900,000 pieces per year for the one and two-tier proposed scenarios.
Researchers began by collecting information on the specific dimensions of the proposed layouts. They also studied representative samples of parts orders, plans for storage of parts within the warehouse, and the decision algorithms and floor-scale motions that workers in the warehouse would need to make. After reviewing these findings with the client, PMC researchers built a series of simulation models.
Results of simulation runs indicated that the one-tier scenario would yield the best performance, meeting the target of 900,000 pieces per year with only 13 pickers and 6 restockers.
A multi-billion dollar automotive supplier was outgrowing its 1.6 million square foot warehouse. With time running out and customer demand increasing, they called upon PMC to analyze the material flow within their facility. More than 10,000 vehicle instrument panels are assembled and shipped daily from this location.
Both in-house plastic injection-molded and purchased parts are stored in designated sections throughout the plant. These raw materials are brought to assembly lines via fork trucks or vehicle trains. WIP parts are placed in temporary holding areas and finished goods are stored or shipped out by truck to automotive assembly plants.
High vehicle congestion areas were scattered throughout the facility. Once controlled part routings were becoming difficult to manage with increased complexity caused by ILVS (In Line Vehicle Sequencing) strategies recently deployed by automotive manufacturers. With over 1200 named parts to move (including color and style complexities), plant engineers realized something had to be done to improve the situation.
The goals of the study were to improve the pre and post-assembly material flows within the facility. By establishing a data-driven baseline scenario, alternatives could be tested for increased efficiencies regarding material flow to and from assembly lines. First steps were to collect, assemble, and format material flow data. Material handling labor costs and resource utilization were analyzed, as well as verifying a path for every part within the operation. Secondary efforts included static and dynamic modeling to further test options for operational modes
A project team was established to conduct a detailed study of material flows connected to warehouse areas. A phased approach began with a review and overhaul of existing data, complete with all current part numbers. Part routings were verified on the plant floor, and mapped in a material flow computer model. Specific routes for high volume parts were modified to increase overall material handling efficiencies.
Over 100,000 square feet of floor space was isolated for a central marketplace where often-handled parts were managed through a WMS. A well-maintained database tracked part numbers and routings to assist in inventory planning and management.