ProModel AutoCAD App for Warehouses and Distribution Centers

Steve-Courtney-100-x100

Steve Courtney, ProModel Sr. Consultant

I have several years of experience in supply chain and logistics modeling helping clients who have large warehouses and distribution centers.  These models are often very large (thousands or tens of thousands of locations), which can be very time consuming to model.  I’ve found the old adage to be very true: “Necessity is the Mother of Invention”, so I developed a ProModel App that is used from within AutoCAD which enables us to quickly build the graphical portions of the model using OLE automation.  This capability is also very useful when experimenting with several different layouts.

The types of Warehouse / DC modeling questions that can be answered include:

  • Slotting questions – where should my SKUs go?
  • Racking questions – which type of racking is best (flow rack, bin shelving, single pallet deep, double pallet deep, drive-in racking, etc.)?
  • How high should our racking go 5 levels, 7 levels, etc?
  • Which material handling devices are best – narrow aisle, forklifts, single/double/triple pallet jack, reach trucks, side loaders, clamp trucks, electric/propane/natural gas, etc.?
  • Staffing questions – how many of each type and when?

I recently gave a webinar on this topic which you can view here

The requirements for using the app include:

  • Current AutoCAD drawing
  • AutoCAD not AutoCAD Light
  • Know where each location is physically on the drawing
  • Location levels 2-X should be mapped to the level 1 location
  • Build indexed location file in the order you plan to add to the drawing
  • Know which material handling device accesses each location

If you would like to discuss this further, or have other ideas that can help us all improve warehouse and distribution center modeling, please comment below.  Thanks and Happy Modeling!

Thanks, Steve Courtney

 

One Way Automotive Manufacturers Can Meet the Challenges of a Rapidly Changing Market

The automotive industry is likely to change more in the next 10 years than it has in the previous 50. It seems like in so many industries today including technology, entertainment, and consumer products, change at a very rapid pace.  The auto industry is by far no exception.  There are many new entrants into car making, add to that self-driving vehicles, electric cars, and car sharing just to name a few.  All these factors are providing increased competition.  Not to mention the rapidly fluctuating price of gasoline.  With instability in the Middle-East and increased oil production in the US and other parts of the world, who knows how that may change in the next 6 months.  There is no doubt that reacting quickly and strategically to these rapid demand shifts will be an absolute priority for auto leaders in 2016.

Simulation is a tool that can help automakers accommodate these rapid changes and develop scenarios for planning for the uncertainties that may occur.

Consider that a US plant reduced its work force by 20% in 2010 during the recession.  Not only that, but floor space has been re-arranged to accommodate those reductions.  Now in this post-recession period the demand for vehicles from this plant is increasing rapidly.  How do you meet that demand with the existing workforce? Can you build the number of vehicles necessary without moving lines or cells around again and hiring more workers?  If you do hire, which positions, how many, and on what shifts do you need more FTEs?  Simulation can help you make these decisions more confidently.  Here are some ways in which it has already been done.

The Rim Assembly Model

A large automotive component manufacturer experienced difficulties reaching a desired line speed.  The operation involved mating a set of tires with rims for multiple manufacturers.  The line was consistently under producing and management wanted the problem solved now!  Given the interactions between the various parts of the line, it was difficult to assess which component was the actual bottleneck. Only a limited number of things could be changed, so the objective was to find what modification to the line was possible to achieve improved speed in a short period of time with as little capital investment as possible.  The following modifications were tested:

  • Sequence the tires to the lean cells. The baseline was for tires one and two to go to lean cell one and tires three and four to go to lean cell two.
  • Shorten the load time between rims by staffing and laying out load position differently
  • Use only one lean cell
  • Eliminate the use of “switch-outs” where a failed mating between rim and tire at the lean cell required that the lean cell be stopped
  • Adjust the tire feed spur lengths

The largest gain in line rate required three changes: the time between rim arrivals was reduced from 23 seconds to 16 seconds, the elimination of switch-outs and the lengthening of tire feed spur lengths.

These modifications allowed the client to get to the desired line rate and the model was developed and results were submitted within 5 days. View the video for a quick sample of the model.

Check out one of our success stories about another auto manufacturer: Tofus-FIAT Realizes 48% Reduction in WIP with ProModel Simulation. This solution story is available among many from our online library. Many solution and model videos are also available on our YouTube Channel. If you would like to learn more about ProModel solutions contact us.

Other References:
http://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/the-next-revolution-in-the-car-industry
http://www.mckinsey.com/industries/automotive-and-assembly/our-insights/a-road-map-to-the-future-for-the-auto-industry

Remembering Rob Bateman

Photo March 2009

Charles Harrell, Founder ProModel Corporation

Last month we lost a long-time member of the ProModel family and, for many of us, a beloved friend. Following a sudden incident of heart failure while working out in the gym, Rob Bateman passed away on October 11th 2015.  We at ProModel will remember him as a warm, energetic, impassioned leader and friend whose life was devoted to the pursuit of excellence and selfless service. His absence will continue to be profoundly felt in the months and years to come.

I first met Rob just over 25 years ago when he was doing graduate studies at BYU. He took a simulation class from me and I could tell he was excited about the potential benefits of simulation. So after completing a stint with the US state department as a foreign-service officer in 1990, Rob began working as a ProModel distributor. With his international background and grasp of simulation, Rob eventually become the Vice President of International Operations and later established an independent company (Dynamisis A.G.) for directing all international operations for ProModel.

DSC_1650

Robert Bateman

(April 4, 1958 – October 11, 2015)

Rob was an extraordinary individual with remarkable talents. He was one of those individuals who was always on-the-go and seemed to cram more into one day than most of us manage to accomplish in several days. At the same time, he maintained a zest for life and could frequently be seen buzzing around in his sports car with his signature driving cap or biking into work in his cycling shorts and helmet.

Here are a few of the many talents Rob displayed:

  • He was very knowledgeable…about everything. No matter what subject was being discussed, he always had something intelligent to contribute to the discussion. On top of his formal education, which culminated with a Ph.D. in Public Administration/Political Science, Rob filled his spare moments reading books or one of his 14 magazines he subscribed to.
  • As a consummate teacher he was passionate about getting people exposed to simulation. He wrote the first textbook on ProModel for use in college courses. For the past decade, when he wasn’t working with distributors to promote ProModel he was teaching at the local university.
  • He was an effective mentor and gave many individuals their first start in their careers. When several international distributors were asked what they remember about Rob, they invariably said he treated them as valued partners and became someone they could always turn to for advice.
  • He was resourceful and knew how to get by on very little sleep, food and comforts. When there wasn’t sufficient budget or resources to support an initiative he believed in, he somehow always managed to find the means needed to get the job done.
  • He was a real cosmopolitan and world traveler. If you ever called Rob, you would be just as likely reaching him at some airport as in his office. And there didn’t seem to be any country where he felt uncomfortable or couldn’t speak the language.
  • He was a friend to all and he never let business stand in the way of personal relationships. He took time to express an interest in others and always sensed if one was having a bad day or dealing with problems at home. He would do whatever he could to lift them up and help them keep things in perspective.
  • Finally, Rob was funny and had an infectious sense of humor. He could tell endless stories of his travel exploits where he encountered bizarre situations like returning to his car only to find all of his tires stolen. Though Rob took his commitments seriously, he never took himself too seriously.

Here are a few memories related by some of the distributers who worked with him.

A Distributor in Germany and Austria relates, “On my first trip to Utah to visit with Rob as a new ProModel rep, I had the feeling I was meeting with an old friend. I was impressed by his hospitality and the time that he gave me.”

A Brazilian distributor recalled meeting Rob the first time 21 years ago and thinking to himself, “Who is this guy who can conduct a meeting with high level business leaders, comfortably use legal and business terms in both German and English and then turn around the following day and teach a simulation course in Spanish to a group of engineers. How can one person have so many skills?”

As another of his co-workers commented, “I’ve been in rooms with him teaching and negotiating with Nigerians, Germans, Japanese, Brazilians, Mexicans, and more. No matter the nationality, Rob could relate and connect. He was confident, knowledgeable, and personable.”

On a personal note, one co-worker related: “This past year Rob joined the cycling team that I belong to called Team C4C (“Cycle for Cure”). The team was formed to raise money for health-related charities such as the Huntsman Cancer Center and the National MS Society. Rob immediately identified with the purpose of the group and quickly became one of the strongest riders on the team.”

This same co-worker related how Rob was instrumental in helping him complete a grueling ‘Ultimate Challenge’ cycling event saying, “I will always cherish a picture I have of Rob and me crossing the finish line together at Snowbird after riding 100 miles and climbing 10,000 feet in one day. I could not have made it without his encouragement along the way.”

For all those who have been influenced by his exemplary life, Rob will always be remembered as a leader, mentor and friend. Perhaps it is fitting that he pursued a career in simulation modeling since he seems to have understood the impact that models can have, not only on organizations, but on the people around him. Those who knew Rob, know that he was a model of the best that a human being can be, and for that he will always be remembered.

Simulating The Impact Of New Laws On Probation Systems

JCowden Profile Pic

Jennifer Cowden – Sr. Consultant

It was recently announced that the U.S. Justice Department is planning to release 6000 inmates near the end of the month due to new sentencing policies for non-violent drug-offenders.  Most of the prisoners will be placed in half-way houses and drug rehab centers as part of the “largest one-time release of federal prisoners” in U. S History, which begs the question: are these rehabilitation centers going to be ready for this sudden influx?

One state has had a similar law change recently and is rightly concerned about the impact that the new sentencing structure will have on the probation system and ancillary support services.  ProModel consultants have been working with this state’s Administrative Office of Probation to build a series of models around different aspects of the probation system.  The previous phase model studied the movement of youths through the juvenile probation system, while the model discussed in the video below addresses the adult probationer population.

In addition to gaining insight into bottlenecks in the process, the Probation Office was interested in using Predictive Analytics to assess the impact that the new law will have on the probation office workload and the local county jail occupancy rate.  As part of the law change, convicts who are guilty of certain felonies will spend part of their sentence in probation instead of spending all of it in prison.  These felons are at a higher risk level than the current average probationer,  and will likely cause a disproportionate workload increase on the probation officers as well as take up county jail space should custodial sanctions need to be implemented.  The model will be used to help quantify the increased demand so that the appropriate adjustments can be made ahead of time.

The next steps for this model is to combine it with the juvenile model in order to predict more accurately the demand on shared services and resources.

In the OR with Dale Schroyer

Dale%20Schroyer

Dale Schroyer – Sr. Consultant & Project Manager

I generally find that in healthcare, WHEN something needs to happen is more important than WHAT needs to happen.  It’s a field that is rife with variation, but with simulation, I firmly believe that it can be properly managed.  Patient flow and staffing are always a top concern for hospitals, but it’s important to remember that utilization levels that are too high are just as bad as levels that are too low, and one of the benefits of simulation in healthcare is the ability to staff to demand.

Check out Dale’s work with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital where they successfully used simulation to manage increased OR patient volume: 

About Dale

Since joining ProModel in 2000, Dale has been developing simulation models used by businesses to perform operational improvement and strategic planning. Prior to joining ProModel Dale spent seven years as a Sr. Corporate Management Engineering Consultant for Baystate Health System in Springfield, MA where he facilitated quality improvement efforts system wide including setting standards and facilitating business re-engineering teams. Earlier he worked as a Project Engineer at the Hamilton Standard Division of United Technologies.

Dale has a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan and a Masters of Management Science from Lesley University. He is a certified Six Sigma Green Belt and is Lean Bronze certified.

NEW! ProModel’s Patient Flow Solution:

http://patientflowstudio.com/

ProModel Healthcare Solutions:

http://www.promodel.com/Industries/Healthcare

Power of Predictive Analytics for Healthcare System Improvement and Patient Flow

Hospitals are currently under intense pressure to simultaneously improve the effectiveness and efficiency of healthcare delivery in an environment where operating costs are being reduced, downsizing and consolidation is the norm, and cost for care is increasing while revenue is decreasing.  At the same time the systemic effects of peak census and varying demand on patient LOS are creating capacity issues and unacceptable patient wait times…leading to a major decline in patient satisfaction.

The amount of proposals to enhance a hospitals quality care are as numerous as the healthcare professionals dedicated to the cause.  What hospitals need however is the ability to quickly and accurately evaluate the impact of those various operational proposals and to experiment with system behavior without disrupting the actual system – and ProModel’s simulation technology is allowing them to do just that.

The predictive analytic capability of ProModel simulation will allow healthcare professionals to test assumptions and answer those patient flow “what if” questions in a matter of minutes and days, not weeks and months.  Simply put, it’s providing a decision support system to assist healthcare leaders in making critical decisions quickly with a higher degree of accuracy and confidence.

Simulation will also help healthcare staff quickly identify room availability and recognize high risk patient flow bottlenecks before extreme problems occur.  This invaluable knowledge will then lead to reductions in patient wait times and LOS, avoid unnecessary re-admissions and costly expansions, and most importantly – increase the overall quality of service and patient satisfaction.

Flanagan Industries Brings New Facility Online Thanks To ProModel Solution

Flanagan Industries is a major contract manufacturer of aerospace hardware specializing in highly engineered and high value machined components and assemblies.  Over the years their manufacturing operations had been growing steadily to the point where they absolutely needed additional capacity . The original space was not conducive to a manufacturing environment and had become an impediment to taking on more business and staying competitive in the global economy.  So Flanagan decided to expand by opening a new facility that could house bigger and better machinery, however they needed to ensure that the move to the new location would not disrupt their current operations and customer orders.

In the video below, see how Flanagan used a ProModel Simulation Solution to successfully bring their new facility online: