Manufacturing management and decision support using simulation-based multi-objective optimisation

University dissertation from Leicester : De Montfort University

Abstract: A majority of the established automotive manufacturers are under severe competitive pressure and their long term economic sustainability is threatened. In particular the transformation towards more CO2-efficient energy sources is a huge financial burden for an already investment capital intensive industry. In addition existing operations urgently need rapid improvement and even more critical is the development of highly productive, efficient and sustainable manufacturing solutions for new and updated products. Simultaneously, a number of severe drawbacks with current improvement methods for industrial production systems have been identified. In summary, variation is not considered sufficient with current analysis methods, tools used are insufficient for revealing enough knowledge to support decisions, procedures for finding optimal solutions are not considered, and information about bottlenecks is often required, but no accurate methods for the identification of bottlenecks are used in practice, because they do not normally generate any improvement actions. Current methods follow a trial-and-error pattern instead of a proactive approach. Decisions are often made directly on the basis of raw static historical data without an awareness of optimal alternatives and their effects. These issues could most likely lead to inadequate production solutions, low effectiveness, and high costs, resulting in poor competitiveness. In order to address the shortcomings of existing methods, a methodology and framework for manufacturing management decision support using simulation-based multi-objective optimisation is proposed. The framework incorporates modelling and the optimisation of production systems, costs, and sustainability. Decision support is created through the extraction of knowledge from optimised data. A novel method and algorithm for the detection of constraints and bottlenecks is proposed as part of the framework. This enables optimal improvement activities with ranking in order of importance can be sought. The new method can achieve a higher improvement rate, when applied to industrial improvement situations, compared to the well-established shifting bottleneck technique. A number of “laboratory” experiments and real-world industrial applications have been conducted in order to explore, develop, and verify the proposed framework. The identified gaps can be addressed with the proposed methodology. By using simulation-based methods, stochastic behaviour and variability is taken into account and knowledge for the creation of decision support is gathered through post-optimality analysis. Several conflicting objectives can be considered simultaneously through the application of multi-objective optimisation, while objectives related to running cost, investments and other sustainability parameters can be included through the use of the new cost and sustainability models introduced. Experiments and tests have been undertaken and have shown that the proposed framework can assist the creation of manufacturing management decision support and that such a methodology can contribute significantly to regaining profitability when applied within the automotive industry. It can be concluded that a proof-of-concept has been rigorously established for the application of the proposed framework on real-world industrial decision-making, in a manufacturing management context.

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