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Design and development of a simulation-based decision support tool to improve the production process at an engineered wood products mill

Luke Opacic, Taraneh Sowlati and Mahdi Mobini

International Journal of Production Economics, 2018, vol. 199, issue C, 209-219

Abstract: The demand for engineered wood products has been increasing due to their advantages over solid wood in many applications and the need for efficient and sustainable use of natural resources. In order to meet the growing demand of products, managers seek continuous improvement in the production process, which involves complex and interrelated decisions. Simulation-based decision support tools are proven beneficial when dealing with complex managerial decisions, especially in manufacturing systems. In this research, real industrial data are used and a decision support tool is developed to assist the managers of an engineered wood products mill in Canada to analyze the production process, and evaluate alternative configurations and workers assignment to increase the throughput. This paper presents the first attempt in the forest industry simulation literature that incorporates the interactions between the operators and multiple machines. An important outcome of this research was to prevent substantial monetary implications of replacing a piece of equipment. While managers believed that replacing a piece of equipment (sizer) with a more modern one would eliminate the production bottleneck and increase the throughput, the results of the simulation model showed that it would only shift the bottleneck in the mill without any meaningful benefits. The evaluation of worker-machine interactions within the entire mill provided another important finding. It indicated that the addition of a worker and the automation of the conveyor could increase the throughput by almost 21%.

Keywords: Discrete-event simulation (DES); Decision support tools; Scenario analysis; Process improvement; Engineered wood products (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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