Simulation used in the design phase or new facility
Process modeling of a new design can provide the right number and size of necessary processing and supporting equipment. This is particularly valuable for equipment that is shared by multiple-unit procedures such as CIP skids, utility system designs and powder bins and tablet totes in an OSD facility. The overall production process may have an equipment bottleneck; the model will identify the bottleneck and ensure that it does not constrain production to a value less than the business objectives for the facility. Also, the model will examine other potential bottlenecks. If their constraint is close to the desired bottleneck, then schedule disruptions or other variability may result in a constraint that is lower than the design, effectively substituting a more restrictive bottleneck for the desired one.
Changes occur frequently during the design process. Engineers find better alternatives and management may change the product mix of volumes that the facility will be expected to make. In these instances, having a process model of the design is especially beneficial. The model can be used to evaluate the alternatives and ensure that the changes are cost effective while maintaining the desired throughput. Staffing levels and shift schedules can also be compared with a model. This helps with cost justification of the design change.
Modeling during facility renovation
A model of an existing facility can provide the same benefits as in a design model with two important differences. First, there is historical data that can be used to give a better model and to validate the performance of the model against. This helps to prevent process modeling errors and provides greater confidence in the model results. Secondly, the model is more likely to be used for operational decisions, such as production schedules and shift schedules. Equipment changes are still possible, but the scale of the possible changes may be lower if the facility footprint is fixed. Intermediate inventories may be fixed for the same reason, creating other problems for manufacturing. Models of existing facilities tend to be more realistic and detailed, which requires more engineering time to build, validate and use the model.
A process model, at the right detail level and properly validated, is a valuable tool to compare alternatives and justify their cost. These benefits apply to new facilities during the design phase and to existing facilities that need renovation or operational changes. Further benefits accrue when each facility has an up-to-date model. Usually, good decisions must be made quickly and this is only possible if the time and effort has been invested in a process model beforehand.
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