Optimize Staffing & Capacity Allocation to Support New Demands
AGS Automotive Systems is a leading supplier of vehicle impact systems for North American automobile assembly facilities. The Shreveport, Louisiana, facility assembles rear impact systems for GM’s GMC Canyon, Chevrolet Colorado, and Hummer models. It supports the General Motors Shreveport Operations light truck assembly plant with sequencing and just-in-time component deliveries.
The impending introduction of new vehicle models on new platforms, including the new Hummer H3T, required AGS to handle an increasing number of component types and styles. A greater mixture of components resulted in increased overall process complexities, while higher demand volumes required an expansion of plant capacity.
AGS enlisted Visual8 to build a simulation tool to mimic the process flow of the proposed new assembly line. The simulation model captures the movement of components through the four main sections -Pick Zone, Sub-Assembly, Final Assembly, and Sequencing areas.
The plant operates in a just-in-time production mode driven by live demand broadcasted directly from GM. Upon receipt of demand, workers in the Pick Zone collect parts from a bill of materials for assembly and place them in a cart. These carts are delivered to Sub-Assembly if required, then to Final Assembly.
Finished components are sequenced before being loaded on to waiting trucks bound for GM. Empty carts are moved back to the staging area for the next cycle. Each of the four assembly line sections is staffed by teams of labourers working in any of three product cells.
In order to experiment with varying levels of staff and capacity, the simulation was designed to support fully customizable staff levels at each individual assembly line section as well as allocation of labourers to each of the three product cells.
The user is also able to specify the following variables, all of which are broadcasted live from GM:
- Number of available carts in each assembly line section, and
- Component type and style demands.
After each simulation run, the user can immediately realize the impact of varying input parameters from detailed reports that track the utilization of staff at each assembly line cell.
Through the general report the user can determine the staff and capacity allocation adjustments required to minimize:
- Shipment delays,
- Overstocks, and
- Stock outs under changing mixture and volume of demands.
AGS was able to identify the optimal staff allocation to minimize staffing costs yet still satisfy the new demands from GM. The following staffing decisions where made based on the analysis:
- Two labourers are required to work both the Pick Zone and Sub-Assembly.
- Four labourers required for one product cell in Final Assembly.
- Three others required for other Final Assembly functions.
The simulation also revealed that the initial assembly line’s overall capacity exceeded the projected demand from GM. The operation could sustain itself with fewer moving carts, reducing capital investment and maintenance costs required.