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Improving the manufacturing process of brick based products using FIT principles and Discrete Event Simulation

Soman, Sajith 2017. Improving the manufacturing process of brick based products using FIT principles and Discrete Event Simulation. MPhil Thesis, Cardiff University.
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The aim of the study was to improve the current manufacturing process through the application of FIT manufacturing principles with the aid of Discrete Event Simulation (DES) technique. FIT principles focus on making the manufacturing process lean, agile and sustainable while maintaining the productivity rates, profitability and waste at their optimum levels. Discrete Event Simulation (DES) is a powerful tool which can be used to build a model of the current manufacturing process and later utilised to study the effects on the process flow by simulating the model under different scenarios corresponding to different key process parameters. In this study, WITNESS software was used as a platform to build the DES model and run simulations. The simulations were carried out manually i.e. by an intuitive approach and later run automatically i.e. using the embedded optimising module within WITNESS to collect the necessary data for improving the current manufacturing process. This study has been conducted as part of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) program within a traditional manufacturing industry. Data has been collected from the company, process flow was mapped for 3 different product categories, plant layout of existing manufacturing facility was created in CAD package and a DES model was created to test different methodologies suggested by FIT manufacturing. For the simulation model, specific rules and functions were created to mimic the process flow based on the extracted knowledge of current practice. Three different FIT scenarios were tested against measured outputs to see the potential benefits to the company. The results were validated by setting the process parameters to the values suggested by the optimised DES model. The fourth scenario was tested by modelling breakdown pattern of the machines in the simulation. In the first scenario, manual improvements were made intuitively using FIT principles to allow the process to be more lean, agile and sustainable by critical evaluation and analysis such as line balancing of existing processes. iv However, due to thresholds met by this approach in terms of improvements to the manufacturing process, the DES model was simulated for the second and third scenarios using the Experimenter module in WITNESS to capture the complex relationships that exist between the 3 FIT components considering the level of investment required as a constraint for decision making. The fourth scenario was used to study the effect of breakdowns of the machines on the production line and the effect of predictive maintenance on the overall manufacturing process. The study showed that, in general, resources such as machines and labour that are shared between production lines caused undue pressure on the production line. Also, maximum allocation of resources does not always lead to maximum increase in productivity. On the contrary, lesser but smarter investment on resources improved productivity by a higher margin. Employing people with multiple skills who can carry out multiple operations was found to improve productivity significantly. It was also found that increasing the efficiency of one production line did not always increase the overall efficiency due to cross-functional relationships within the manufacturing processes and increasing the efficiency of one production line is likely to cause a bottleneck on the other inter-dependent operations. Breakdown of machinery were found to impact the production process flow negatively. In contrary to the belief that preventive maintenance is the effective solution, it was found that a reactive maintenance strategy of having a spare machine is more cost effective, in this case. This option is viable in the current manufacturing model, but not always on all scenarios. Overall, the study showed that the application of FIT manufacturing principles applied with the help of a DES model could add significant value to the organisation and increase the operational efficiencies. This work can be easily adapted to other manufacturing industries to identify the inefficiencies in the manufacturing process and remedy the bottlenecks as well as remove non-value adding activities.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Engineering
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 16 October 2017
Last Modified: 29 Apr 2021 15:25

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