Use Real-Time Simulation to Preempt WIP Bubbles and Set Production Goals Each Shift

MH900240691Real-time simulation is a tool that takes into account the up-to-the-minute status of your factory and predicts what’s likely to happen in the coming hours, days, and weeks.

Knowing this, you can preempt problems such as WIP bubbles.  The result is:

  • Higher throughput
  • Better on-time delivery
  • Reduced cycle time
  • Reduction in problems/headaches/firefighting

It also enables you to set more realistic production goals for your managers each shift.

How I do it

Using simulation software, I build a detailed model of the factory, including all the major machines and products in the factory.  I create an interface with the MES (manufacturing-execution system software) to pull in up-to-the-minute WIP and machine status to the model.  Regularly (say, weekly, daily, or even every shift) I download the current factory status into the model, run it, and predict factory performance in the coming hours, days, or weeks.

Use the model’s findings to preempt problems

Where problems are foreseen, actions can be taken to preempt them, such as changing a prioritization scheme at a machine, changing a machine setup, or shifting the timing of a PM.  I can further simulate the effects of these corrective actions to gain confidence that the actions will actually solve the problem.

Use the model’s findings to set realistic production goals

The model’s output can also be used to set fair, realistic production goals for production managers in each area, each shift.  Managers perform better knowing that they are being judged fairly.  For example, a manager who will be receiving fewer upstream assemblies will not be dinged for having below-average moves.  Similarly, a manager who meets moves goals knows that it was due to his/her performance–not the luck of having higher-than-average levels of WIP coming in, since that is already accounted for in the goal.

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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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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