ProModel AutoCAD App for Warehouses and Distribution Centers

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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

 

Oilfield Equipment Manufacturer Optimizes New Facility Design

CHALLENGES

A leader in the design, manufacture, and supply of oilfield equipment had recently purchased land to build a world class manufacturing facility.  The new location would be designed to capture future growth but needed to be sized correctly; not a wasteful over-construction yet not too small at the same time.

The senior executive team thought simulation modeling would allow them to analyze their manufacturing processes, identify bottlenecks, capture productivity improvements, and properly size the new facility.  After a lengthy vendor sourcing exercise, ProModel Corporation was selected as the best provider to answer this modeling challenge.

OBJECTIVES

  • Model the existing manufacturing processes
  • Identify current process constraints using various customer demand scenarios
  • Simulate maximum throughput potential with the current processes and equipment layout
  • Using LEAN process improvement skills, simulate a more productive manufacturing process and scale that upward to capture growth
  • Simulate the new manufacturing facility and validate the desired growth rates. Upon completion of this step, the layout would be given to the architects for structural design.

VALUE PROVIDED

  • Immediate identification of a critical bottleneck that once resolved, increased cell throughput by 53% and overall production by 19%
  • Throughput has grown 45% since the launch of the initiative due to a much better understanding of their manufacturing methods and related constraints
  • Manufacturing standards used by the production planning team were far from accurate thus creating a workflow imbalance
  • Equipment previously slated for purchase was determined to add no throughput benefit thus saving several hundred thousand in capital expenditures
  • Numerous future state layouts were modeled thus allowing the team to ultimately select the most productive equipment arrangements
  • The simulation model became a powerful sales tool with customers; understanding the flow in the facility and how it could absorb their incremental orders
  • Even during a severe industry downturn, the company continued to capture market share due to improved manufacturing methods.

SOLUTION

A ProModel senior consultant worked with the engineering staff to build dynamic models of their current production facility and planned future construction.

First, a dynamic flexible model of the existing facility was created and validated.  That model was used to define the true capacity of the existing facility, analyze current constraints, evaluate capital improvement options, and test new LEAN concepts that were under consideration for the current and future facility.

A major challenge to creating the model was accommodating the tremendous variety of products manufactured.  A user friendly interface for running the model was developed to provide the ability to run any variation of mix/demand against several operational configurations.

The key learnings from the existing facility model were then applied to the new facility design.  Alternate facility layouts and new material handling concepts were evaluated to ensure the plant of the future would meet all capacity targets.

3D Animation of a Portion of the Plant

3D Animation of a Portion of the Plant

 

Is Patient Care a Repeatable Process and Can It Benefit from System Improvements?

headshots-daleIn my eight years at ProModel, I have come to appreciate the serious talent of our consultants.  I think they are one of our greatest assets and bring tremendous value to our customers.  When I really want to get the scoop on a project, I turn to one of them and they explain the very complex nature of our projects to me in a way I understand and appreciate.  One of these talented consultants is Dale Schroyer.

Dale is a first time grandfather, which in itself is a new challenge. As he said “Its old, but its new.  In his work as a Promodel Consultant Dale travels a great deal, however he does not really get to see or enjoy the places to which he travels.  So he and his wife have decided to start traveling and just this year they took their first vacation to Italy and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Next on their bucket list is another trip.  They are deciding between Alaska or the British Isles.

When I last spoke with Dale he was attending the NPSF Patient Safety Congress, in Scottsdale, Arizona one of those may places he visits but doesn’t really get to see. He was happy to be in 80-degree sunshine after weeks in cool, cloudy Massachusetts. One of the programs Dale attended at the NPSF conference was an emersion workshop on RCA or Root Cause Analysis.

This program looked at what hospitals do when an adverse event occurs.  Usually such events occur because of system faults or failures, not necessarily human error.  The challenge is determining what the faults in the system are, how they can be fixed and instituting actions to fix them and measure those fixes.  Dale found it a fascinating topic because of its similarities to what is done in the Aerospace industry in which he started his career.  The instructors were Dr. James P. Bagian and Mr. Joseph M. DeRosier, one of whom is from the Aerospace industry.  Both teach at the University of Michigan which is Dale’s alma mater.  Dale spoke with them about simulation as a tool to determine hospital system shortfalls.  They mentioned that the barriers to simulation are many and often the learning curve is long and cumbersome.  Dale discussed using ProModel’s Process Simulator which can be an easier way around those barriers, since it is a simpler, Visio based tool.

As most of the attendees at the conference were nurses, doctors and an eclectic mix of engineers, what Dale observed in talking and listening to many of them is that healthcare does not consider itself a process or system industry. At this year’s conference, conversations were being started around this very issue.  The fact that doctors and nurses were having the conversation is a considerable step in the right direction.  Many in attendance wanted to know what techniques would best serve them in convincing their coworkers back home that the system approach is a good and necessary one for the healthcare industry that can benefit patients, hospitals, nurses and physicians.

Dale has over 20 years as an improvement consultant in the healthcare field at ProModel and Baystates Healthcare. One of his most significant consulting engagements for ProModel has been at Robert Wood Johnson.  In this multi-year engagement, ProModel and Dale served as a trusted advisor.  It was a project that did not just cover one unit of the hospital, but dealt with the whole evolution of the OR Suite.  It was not just the building of a single model, but a collaborative work with positive and rewarding results.

Part of what makes Dales so good at his job is the fact that he loves tackling new challenges.  Working for ProModel guarantees that each day will be very different from the last.  He will meet new people in a new environment and tackle a new problem.  The first step he generally takes when starting a new project is to spend a lot of time listening to those with whom he will be working.  He needs to understand their environment and what he must do as a ProModel expert to yield them tremendous value.

Dale just earned a Data Scientist certification. The program he completed was from Johns Hopkins and required the completion of 9 courses along with a capstone project. His capstone focused on natural language processing and it brought all of the elements of the other 9 courses together and applied them in a new and fascinating way.

As Dale and I closed our conversation, we were both wondering how others in the Healthcare Community felt about his notion that Healthcare is not a process or system industry.  We, of course, disagree.  What do you think?

We would be happy to hear your opinion about this notion.  Comment below or email me at ezohil@promodel.com.  To recommend whether Dales should visit Alaska or the British Isles, email him at dschroyer@promodel.com.

Interested in learning more about ProModel consulting, check out: http://www.promodel.com/Services/Consulting, or consulting@promodel.com.