Intier Automotive Interiors, a wholly-owned operating group of Magna International, develops and manufactures vehicle interior components and systems for the global automotive industry. The Company planned on designing a new assembly plant for the Chrysler door modules program. Intier wanted to analyze the plant designs to satisfy Chrysler’s new door modules for their Sebring and Dodge Strata models.
Intier approached Visual8 to develop a simulation model on the four assembly lines for the door modules within the Shelby plant to address the materials replenishment and delivery capability of the module assembly lines, and also to analyze the material flow into, within, and out of the facility based on the planned delivery pulse every 850 minutes.
The simulation model detailed the working of the module assembly lines to analyze the materials handling requirements of the process, the system output limits and the impact of severe product mix changes on the overall process flow takt time. Details included:
- Capturing the product assembly across the 7 stations within each line,
- Replenishment requirements,
- Sequencing of line assembly according to the delivery line-up for each pulse,> and
- Assembly cycle times by station.
The simulation model was also expanded to include the inbound and outbound flow of materials to the plant and the physical storage space requirements for parts and finished product. The expansion helped the Company determine staffing levels and storage space requirements under planned and increased demand volumes for door modules.
The SIMUL8 model made use of the plant layout as provided through the CAD drawing to help communicate the scope and working of the simulation to Intier Automotive executive and Chrysler. SIMUL8’s internal spreadsheets were used to control demand levels, product mix, and plant layout and operating characteristics. Results were written to output spreadsheet that contained key performance indicators and summary reports of the plant operations and delivery service levels.
The simulation model provided Intier Automotive with a tool to test-out and improve the design of the planned door module assembly operation at the Shelby plant. It allowed Intier to determine the capabilities of the plant layout to analyze increases in throughput, meet required delivery pulse frequencies, satisfy product supply mix broadcasts, and determine the appropriate stocking levels of parts both on the assembly lines and in the high-density storage racks. This provided the Company with the opportunity of reducing costs such as reduction in capital costs, work-in-process and stocking levels, and manpower requirements. The following operating questions were also addressed:
- How much inventory is sufficient to maintain a regular flow of production?
- How fast will inventory turn?
- How many materials handlers do we require?
The commissioning time of the new plant was reduced by identifying and resolving operating issues ahead of time in a risk-free simulation environment. It also increased people’s awareness of how the plant could operate smoothly and at what levels of performance could be expected.