Klein Mechanisch Werkplaats Eindhoven (KMWE) is a precision manufacturing company situated in the Netherlands and recently relocated to a new location known as the 'Brainport Industries Campus' (BIC). This move allowed KMWE to improve the performance of its manufacturing facility by investing in vertical automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RSs). However, these decisions needed to be made under input uncertainties since the move to BIC and modernization of existing equipment would cause changes in operating parameters inside the facility.
In this study, the researchers show how hybrid simulation modelling was used in production planning optimization, in particular to assess the impact of input uncertainties (such as operator productivity, vertical storage height) on the throughput performance of TSC.
The move to the BIC created an opportunity to invest in new equipment, improve shop floor layout, and change business processes. The possible equipment upgrades, as a part of production planning optimization, consisted of either investing in one or two vertical automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RSs). Replacing the current horizontal storage cabinets with new equipment would render the saved space for other value-added operations. Moreover, equipment with higher throughput performance would support the future growth objectives of the company.
The key research objective of this study was to estimate the throughput performance of the TSC as a part of production planning optimization under the input uncertainties mentioned above. Another objective was to aid the investment decisions regarding new vertical AS/RSs. The researchers developed a hybrid simulation model to evaluate the system performance under different AS/RS configurations. Agent-based modelling was used to capture the dynamics of a vertical lift module and its interaction with the operator while discrete-event modelling was used to model the processes inside the TSC.