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Manufacturing simulation

Connect, no. 129, March/April 2004, p.2

Manufacturing simulation

Discrete Event Simulation (DES) was first used in the 1950s. The objective was to improve efficiency, reduce costs and increase profitability. Now, increased computer processing power allows 3D visualisation, texture mapping and third person viewing, bringing simulations to the point of virtual reality.

DES involves modelling the various stages of a manufacturing process or production line through time and is particularly useful for analysing queuing systems. Queuing systems are commonly found in the manufacturing environment in areas such as work in progress, buffer stocks, and warehouse parts.

A major strength of DES is its ability to model random events and to predict the effects of the complex interactions between these events. Experimentation is normally carried out using the software model to answer 'what-if?' questions. This is achieved by changing inputs to the model and then comparing the outcomes. This type of simulation is primarily a decision support tool.

TWI has expertise in using DES to simulate material handling, labour, machines, robots, facility layout, process plant, flow lines and manufacturing cells.

The benefits of DES are both diverse and valuable. The knowledge gained through its use reduces the risks associated with important decision making, and increases confidence by supporting the decision with fore casted data. Bothone-off and repeated financial gains can be realised by optimising performance.

Driven by the need to introduce new products quickly, and to tailor to specific customer requirements, many organisations are moving away from mass production and towards mass customisation. This presents greater challenges for DES because of the increased number of processes and products. These issues mean that models will become even more complex, imposing the need to trace products throughout the system, and include more rules and logic.

or contact Nick Spong to discuss how DES can be used to optimise your company's processes. E-mail:

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