Intelligent pipeline control - a simulation study in the automotive sector
Brabazon, Philip G. and Woodcock, Andrew and MacCarthy, Bart L. Intelligent pipeline control - a simulation study in the automotive sector. In: Fifteenth International Working Seminar on Production Economics, March 3-7, 2008, Congress Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria. (Unpublished)
Automotive producers are aiming to make their order fulfilment processes more flexible. Opening the pipeline of planned products for dynamic allocation to dealers/ customers is a significant step to be more flexible but the behaviour of such Virtual-Build-To-Order systems are complex to predict and their performance varies significantly as product variety levels change. This study investigates the potential for intelligent control of the pipeline feed, taking into account the current status of inventory (level and mix) and of the volume and mix of unsold products in the planning pipeline, as well as the demand profile. Five ‘intelligent’ methods for selecting the next product to be planned into the production pipeline are analysed using a discrete event simulation model and compared to the unintelligent random feed. The methods are tested under two conditions, firstly when customers must be fulfilled with the exact product they request, and secondly when customers trade-off a shorter waiting time for compromise in specification. The two forms of customer behaviour have a substantial impact on the performance of the methods and there are also significant differences between the methods themselves. When the producer has an accurate model of customer demand, methods that attempt to harmonise the mix in the system to the demand distribution are superior.
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