Coming from a test background, the modeling side of things has always fascinated me. Too often though, when the PLM indsutry talks about modeling, its centered on highly rendered CAD models, bending and shaking CAE models or virtual CAM models with virtual chips flying. Sven Volker talked about a new aspect to modeling: logistics planning.
Logisitics planning main job it help manufacturers to decide whether to build new plant or restructure existing plant; which suppliers to use; how to best transport work in process between and within plants. Traditionally, logistics planners do their work using basic office tools, mainly spreadsheets. However a new generation of logistics planning is emerging with the availability of tools like Tecnomatix.
Logistics planning in Tecnomatix starts with the BOM and 3D product data, the same as more traditional modeling users like assembly and BiW. There is one big difference though: logistics planners have to look at every part, not just those in the domain. Not only have to look at all the product parts, but also all the parts in the plant buildings (things like forklifts and conveyor belts)!
One element of logistics planning is container planning: how many and also what shape of containers are needed to store the work in process parts for transport within and between plants. Too few and you have WIP building up, too many and it costs more money that needed. CAD engineers typically design the containers, but the logistics planners also look at the packing algorithm. They are always looking for ways to arrange items to fit one more in a container.
A second element of logistics planning in process planning. Tecnomatix Plant Simulate lets companies look at different flow patterns to decide which will maximize throughput.
The only way to determine whether you have bottlenecks before its too late is through simulation.
The third aspect of logistics planning is layout planning. Layout planning is done to determine what areas in a plant are required for equipment, containers and loading/transport.
In the past, all three areas work independently, but in order to truly optimize you have to look at all thee simultaneously. For example, a change in packing density changes the number of containers required, which changes the transport and storage needed. It's just as complex as a design change - with more parts.
So the next time you start drooling over the hottest piece of sheet metal to roll-out of your favorite auto plant, stop giving all the credit to the designers and give a little love to the logistics planners out there. Without them, it would never make it out the door.