Manufacturing analysis using computer flow simulation has been applied successfully in pilot projects to several Alberta value-added wood products companies in the sectors of re-manufacturing and furniture manufacturing. This project continues these pilot projects examining the application and potential benefit in manufactured/prefab homes. An Alberta manufactured/prefab home manufacturer was selected for this project. The wall-line was chosen for this study. The study was accomplished through detailed observations and data collection, which identified several bottlenecks that included the framing table, squaring table and the linear configuration of the line. From observations, the squaring table was labour intensive and the material handling equipment was quite slow. At the framing table, the stud grade being used contained many twisted and bowed boards, which required additional time to align and fasten the studs. Lastly, the single-line configuration created bottlenecks during the transition from sheathed and unsheathed products. From observations and discussions with staff, potential improvement scenarios were developed. Simulation models were developed for each of these scenarios to evaluate their effectiveness and return on investment. The scenarios examined were: affect of panel sheathing ratio, improving efficiency at the squaring table, improving efficiency at the framing table, addition of a branch-line for unsheathed products and the addition of the branch-line in combination with increased efficiency at the framing table. The implementation of pre-cut OSB panels was simulated to reduce processing times at the squaring table by 30%, which increases throughput by 15%. The addition of a branch-line for unsheathed products showed a potential production increase of 10.8%. However, the simulation models also showed that the framing table could not maintain a consistent supply to the squaring table. The use of a higher stud grade was modelled showing a potential production improvement of 17.5%. As a result, the potential benefits in this particular wood products business demonstrates that computer flow simulations can be applied to Manufactured/Prefab Home manufacturers and may potentially have further implications in other similar Alberta value-added industries.
Virtually all mills located in Canada have at least considered, or implemented scanning technology. Scanning not only enables mills to ensure that closer to optimum recovery and productivity is obtained, but it also avails the opportunity to manage more efficiently operations and provide a basis for quality and operations control.