How to Improve Factory Performance via Computer-Simulation Modeling

MH900311306Overview of modeling

Unlike most other operations-improvement consultancies, Simitar is expert in computer-simulation modeling. 

When operations are highly complex or variable, computer-simulation modeling can reveal huge opportunities for savings that spreadsheet models—and even experienced observers—overlook.  That’s because simulation models take into account the variability present in real life.  Simulation models also include a critical factor that spreadsheet models ignore: cycle time, and how it varies with load. 

Once optimal parameters are found in the simulation model, they can be applied to the real operation.  The result can be significant improvement in all aspects of operations performance, as well as reduced capital-equipment expenditures. 

Any type of operation can be modeled

Essentially any manufacturing, service, or business process can be modeled. Simitar personnel have modeled:

  • Entire wafer fabs containing up to 1500 production steps and 170 types of production equipment spanning multiple sites around the world.
  • Mid-sized production areas to assess complex interactions between machines and to estimate profit-maximizing staffing levels.
  • Individual pieces of production equipment for internal throughput optimization.

Service industries and business processes are heavy beneficiaries of simulation modeling. Examples are hospitals, distribution networks, rail systems, airports, call centers, and claims processors.

A model can help you make thousands of decisions

People unfamiliar with simulation are usually not even aware of the vast variety of questions that a simulation model can answer—they don’t know which questions to ask. Here are a few examples:

  • What capital equipment should I order to meet next year’s throughput and cycle-time goals at minimal cost?
  • What combination of dispatching rules, setup rules, batching rules, and operator allocations will most improve my throughput, cycle time, on-time delivery, and cost?
  • Where are WIP bubbles likely to form during the next shift, and what can I do to preempt them?

One-time or permanent model?

Models can be built for a one-time decision or can be maintained and used on an ongoing basis for continuous improvement and ongoing capacity planning.

Simitar, Inc. permits republication of all or part of this article, provided that (1) it is attributed to Robert Kotcher of Simitar, Inc., and (2) a link is provided to either the Simitar Home Page (if article is wholly republished) or to this article’s page (if the article is partly republished).

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Simitar founder

Bob Kotcher

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    • “At Western Digital, I brought in Bob Kotcher based on his exemplary job performance, project management skills, academic & practical knowledge, and teamwork/communications skills, all of which Bob had repeatedly demonstrated to me when I had the opportunity to work with him prior to Western Digital. Bob brought with him world-class academic credentials and a simply outstanding knowledge of Factory Physics, including Capacity Modeling, Cycle-Time Simulation, and Lean Manufacturing. Bob is a great guy to work with and would be a valued member of any operations staff wanting to improve its productivity and/or lower operating costs. He won’t let you down.”

      Guy Harper – Engineering Projects Director
      Calisolar, Inc.
    • “At MMC, Bob initiated and led numerous cross-functional process improvement teams that made significant improvements to our production. For example, in one area, he linked together several disparate operations into a cell, reducing cycle time and WIP by 97% and saving $220,000 a year in labor and damaged product.”

      John Kim – Director, Thermal Reactor Process Engineering
    • “At Headway Technologies, we were planning a major capital investment in an additional photolithography stepper tool in order to improve throughput at this bottleneck. Bob did a Monte Carlo simulation analysis of this area and found something that none of us had suspected. The capacity at this work-center was actually operator-constrained, not machine-constrained. He showed us how, by adding operators, we could meet the required capacity increase. A few additional operators in the photolithography area kept these tools at an optimum utilization and this extra Opex was a small fraction of the capital depreciation that another stepper would have cost.” 

      Guy Harper – Engineering Projects Director
      Calisolar, Inc.
    • “At each company that he works with, [Simitar founder Bob Kotcher] strives to improve day-to-day operations, and thus to improve the bottom line.  Bob is not afraid to present politically unpalatable truths, if his work suggests that a change will lead to overall improvement.”

      Dr. Jennifer Robinson – Chief Operating Officer
      Fabtime, Inc.
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