An Arena dynamic simulation model developed by Simwell enables a cement plant to measure and compare the impact of different projects on the performance of its supply chain
Simwell’s client operates a cement plant and must move the raw material from the quarry to the processing plant located on the other side of the bay. The transport is currently carried out by a ship operated by the client, but the ship is at the end of its life and must be replaced soon.
Having identified a potential expansion of its market, the customer would like to seize this opportunity to increase the capacity of its supply chain by increasing the capacity of the ship and ship loading/unloading equipment.
With different options for new vessels and loading/unloading equipment, the customer faced the following question: how to minimize capital costs and operating costs to achieve the desired production capacity?
Behind this question lies a problem that most supply chain optimization projects face: the different sources of variability throughout the supply chain represent a risk of not obtaining the expected results.
Indeed, these sources of variability and the dynamic interaction between them make it practically impossible to capture with a static analysis. For example, it may not be necessary to increase the vessel’s carrying capacity if the bottleneck is, in fact, the product transformation due to random failures of certain equipment.
Without an approach that takes these realities into account, the entire viability of the production expansion project is at stake.
The solution: a dynamic simulation model
To solve this problem, Simwell built a dynamic simulation model using the Arena software from Rockwell Automation. This model considers the entire supply chain and reproduces it as closely as possible, minute by minute, from raw material extraction to cement production.
The model accurately forecasts the annual production of the entire supply chain, and takes into account the following elements:
- Production schedule
- Variable equipment rate
- Random breakdown and maintenance events
- Variable ore grades
- Stockpiles usage
- Site operation rules
- Variable vessel travel time
Other sources of delays (port congestion, mooring, days without navigation, etc.)
How it works
A custom user interface designed and developed by Simwell allows the user to enter the input data and parameters of the simulation himself.
From this data, the model simulates the annual production considering all the events of the system.
Finally, the model writes the output of the simulation automatically into a result dashboard, which then serves as a decision tool where it is possible to compare different scenarios.
Benefits for the customer
Thanks to the simulation model, the customer was able to:
- Quickly test different options and quantify their performance according to several criteria
- Identify and select the best option
All from readily available data, without interrupting production and at minimal risk.
The simulation model: a flexible and sustainable tool
The life of Simwell’s dynamic simulation model extends beyond this specific project. Indeed, since the client now owns a detailed model of the operations over which he has full control thanks to the custom designed interface, he can use the same model to answer a multitude of other questions:
- What would be the impact of reducing or increasing the size of buffer piles between processes?
- What happens if equipment failures become more frequent?
- What if we increase the capacity of some equipment?
- And much more.
In addition, in the event of major changes to operations, Simwell will be able to easily make changes to the current model to keep it up to date.