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USING INTERNET TECHNOLOGY FOR DESIGN OF FACILITIES AND MATERIAL HANDLING SYSTEMS

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ABSTRACT1.0. INTRODUCTION2.0. MATERIAL HANDLING SYSTEM DESIGN2.1. Computational tools and modeling issues2.2. New technologies, tools and opportunities3.0. WEB-BASED SIMULATION OF MATERIAL HANDLING SYSTEMS3.1. Technology and Research Issues3.2. A Web-Based Simulation Application3.3. Example4.0. WEB-BASED WAREHOUSE DESIGN4.1. Design Decisions and Cost Analysis4.2. Web-Based Design Environment4.3. Discussion5.0. DISCUSSION AND FUTURE RESEARCH6.0. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS7.0. REFERENCESProceedings of the 2000 International Material Handling Research ColloquiumUSING INTERNET TECHNOLOGY FOR DESIGN OF FACILITIESAND MATERIAL HANDLING SYSTEMSDouglas A. Bodner, T. Govindaraj, Eda Kemahlioglu,Edgar E. Blanco, Marc Goetschalckx, Leon F. McGinnis and Gunter P. SharpKeck Virtual Factory Lab • School of Industrial and Systems EngineeringGeorgia Institute of TechnologyAtlanta, GA 30332-0205 USAEmail: [email protected] advances in internet technology have created opportunities to improve the state-of-the-art with respect to the computational tools available for design and analysis offacilities and material handling systems. For example, the internet facilitates remoteexperimentation and analysis of alternative designs. In addition, web-based client-serverapplications can support collaborative design and promote better management of modeldata. In this paper, we describe on-going research at Georgia Tech that leverages internettechnology to create computational tools for facility and material handling system design.First, we describe a web-based simulation environment to support modeling and designof manufacturing and material handling systems. The environment is designed tofacilitate structured analysis and experimentation of material handling systems. Thesecond is an interactive, web-based application for warehouse design. It integrates adesign database and heuristics to allow the user to make several design decisionsinvolving configuration of storage areas in a warehouse, focusing on the forward pickarea. This paper focuses on three important modeling issues that are exemplified in theapplications presented. These include model representation to support tool integration,model representation to support reconfigurability, and design of databases to ensure dataconsistency. We conclude with a discussion of future modeling research.1.0. INTRODUCTIONThe rapid pace of technological change has important implications for manufacturing andmaterial handling systems in the upcoming decade. New technologies are available formaterial processing and transport, for material tracking, for data management and forsystem modeling. For example, products in a factory can be tracked in real time as theyprogress through the system. Databases can capture detailed order and transactionhistories. Powerful modeling tools such as simulation and optimization have becomemore commonly available, better suited to analysis of material handling systems, andeasier to use. In addition, web-based applications bring analysis and querying power toremotely located computers.At the same time, technological change has created new conditions in the marketplace.Consumers expect shorter lead times, greater product reliability and increased productcustomization. Product life cycles are made shorter by the obsolescence caused fromtechnological innovation. Electronic commerce is changing the way in which companiesconduct business. These trends have resulted in a competitive business environment, andhave created challenges for the manufacturing systems that produce today’s products.To address the opportunities and challenges posed by these and other trends, the NationalResearch Council (NRC) recently established a Committee on Visionary ManufacturingChallenges, which defined six "Grand Challenges" for research and development inmanufacturing to be achieved by the year 2020 [National Research Council 1998]:• concurrency in all operations,• integration of human and technical resources,• instantaneous transformation of information gathered from different sources intouseful knowledge,• reduction of production waste and environmental impact to near-zero,• development of manufacturing operations that are reconfigurable to meet new needs,• development of innovative processes and products with a focus on decreasing size.In large part, these challenges share a common theme – creating and exploiting newinformation technologies to improve the effectiveness of the manufacturing enterprise.Clearly, material handling systems have a major impact in most if not all of these focusareas, since material flow and its associated information flows tie together themanufacturing enterprise in many ways. In this paper, we concentrate on advances inmodeling technologies that can be used to design and analyze material handling systemsand industrial facilities. In particular, the focus is on the use of internet-basedtechnologies and how they can be used for modeling and analysis. This type of researchaddresses several of the Grand Challenges posed by the Committee on VisionaryManufacturing Challenges, as shown in Table 1.It is readily apparent that the worldwide web offers capabilities that can improvemodeling and analysis of material handling systems. The main research questions relateto modeling – how to represent manufacturing and material handling systems to makemodels web-enabled, promote configurable models, facilitate integration of modelingtools, and ensure consistency of data.The remainder of this paper is organized as follows. Section 2 discusses modeling andcomputational issues in material handling systems design and in facilities design with afocus on material flow. Section 3 describes a web-based simulation environment foranalysis of material handling systems. Section 4 presents a web-based environment forconfiguring the forward pick area of a warehouse. We then conclude with a discussion ofresearch issues and thoughts on future research.Table 1. How internet-based modeling technologies can impact manufacturing challengesChallenge Relevant Enabling Technologies Impact of this Type of ResearchConcurrentmanufacturing• Enterprise modeling and simulation• Information technology• Collaborative software systems• Create methodologies and tools tosupport collaborative modeling,design and analysis.Integratedhuman andtechnicalresources• Machine-human interfaces•


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