Evaluation of Resource Flexibility in Digital Factory Planning in SMEs

Aleksandrov, Kiril and Wicaksono, Hendro and Rogalski, Sven
Helsinki, Finland
For years, production companies have faced an increasingly complex and rapidly changing market, which also results in higher client customization. Their competitiveness is increasingly dependent on the identification of new customer and market demands and the ability to dynamically respond to these in a timely and adequate fashion. To ensure the long-term success of a business, the production especially must take an active role, which demands a constant adaptation or modification of existing plant structures, production resources and processes, in order to continue to meet the performance objectives of time, quality, costs and innovative competence. Manufacturing SMEs in particular have to react very flexibly to the ever-changing needs of their customers. For this reason, they must plan their factories from the start in such a way that uncertain, but significantly influential, factors can be buffered by the production structure. This calls for information technology tools, aligned with the SME’s needs, that both virtually verify the layout of production stations, as well as analyse the existing flexibility and resource efficiency of systems which are to be planned, while taking into account product life-cycle-related aspects. The proposed paper deals with a software tool called FLEX-Plan, developed at the FZI Research Center for Information Technology in Karlsruhe, Germany. As opposed to the complex digital factory planning tools often used in industry, this allows SMEs to plan their factory structures, production resources and -processes in a much simpler way. Using their existing IT and CAD systems, SMEs can simulate their often two-dimensional plant factory layouts (e.g. machines and their configurations, material flows, storage and work areas etc.) within the geometric constraints of the building. Based on this, the resource information contained in the 2D CAD factory models can be evaluated with regards to the existing manufacturing flexibility for different design alternatives. This is done to evaluate the existing potential for optimization and to determine the optimal configuration of resources.
Research focus
Virtual Prototyping and Life Cycle Management
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Published by
Horst Goppelsröder