Manufacturing simulation: A powerful tool for concurrent product and process design in chair manufacturing

Jorge Acuna, Purdue University


Concurrent engineering is a systematic approach in which all departments involved in product development work together to design products and processes simultaneously. Concurrent engineering practices allow various product and process alternatives to be analyzed in the first stages of product development so that problems can be anticipated and the time required for product development reduced. The primary objective of this study was to investigate how concurrent engineering techniques could be applied to furniture manufacturing. A secondary objective was to determine whether or not a computer simulation model could be used as an effective tool for testing concurrent product and process design alternatives. A concurrent engineering model, based on matrix organization, teamwork, and a series of axioms, was developed to show how this approach could be used in furniture design and manufacturing. Training, resource allocation, communication, compromise, and information flow for cross functional activities were the fundamental principles of this model. The use of analytical tools to help in the concurrent product and process design was emphasized. Thus a computer simulation model was developed to evaluate process design alternatives based on plant layout as the main element to evaluate process performance. The simulation model was applied in order to select the best alternative among several configurations of plant layout. Selection criteria were based on issues such as time in queue, queue length, weekly throughput, production planning and control, scrap and rework rates, work-in-process and final inventory levels of parts and frames, and work center and material handling equipment utilization. Impact on process productivity of variations in product mix, machine capacity, and material handling equipment availability was also tested. Simulation animation was used to validate and verify if the model was working as it was intended to. Results of this study showed that concurrent engineering can be effectively applied in furniture design and manufacturing. Moreover, computer simulation was shown to be a powerful tool for the evaluation and selection of a process design alternative.




Eckelman, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Industrial engineering|Design|Interior design|Computer science|Management

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