Manufacturing Supply Chain Optimization

IN-TIME: Manufacturing Optimization

IN-TIME addresses advanced manufacturing planning software tools which facilitate collaborative scheduling and optimization along the supply chain.

The IN-TIME solution has been applied to the European timber supply chain, exploiting complementary new developments in sensors and manufacturing technology to increase efficiency and reduce lead times.

The project has resulted in shorter lead times, reduced manufacturing costs and increased safety and efficiency in factories, while providing increased visibility along the supply chain.

Optimizing the Timber Supply Chain

The IN-TIME solution has been applied to the European timber supply chain, which presents a number of complex and challenging planning problems.

The timber supply chain involves many organisations, usually spanning several countries:

  • Log Suppliers, which are often operating in remote areas, with associated logistical complexities, and are required to manage stocks in a sustainable way.
  • Sawmills, which are strategically located with respect to both their suppliers and customers, and need to maintain high throughput and efficiency in their factories to maximise ROI in equipment.
  • Timber merchants, who need to balance inventory and supply against unpredictable demands from their customers.

Each node has specific constraints and requirements, and both the demand and supply are inherently unpredictable.

IN-TIME has been proven in operation in a complex supply chain spanning Switzerland, Austria, Italy and Germany, enhancing the planning process and making substantial cost savings in terms of increased efficiency and reduced inventory levels.

The IN-TIME Solution

Inventory Optimization & Collaboration

IN-TIME provides real-time visibility of orders and inventory along the supply chain, to avoid problems such as goods in the wrong location, incorrect build-up of inventory or poor planning for short lead-time orders.

Integration with production scheduling systems supports the factory operation, making sure that the enhanced capabilities and flexibilities of equipment are used to their maximum advantage, reducing lead times from many days to a few hours.

Sensors and Automation

An innovative approach to measuring timber has been designed which allows the automatic recording of each product as it leaves the cutting machine.

Depending on its size the timber is automatically packed as it leaves the production line, or is stored in a rotating storage drum for use at a later stage. The drum and packing are controlled by sophisticated sortation software which creates appropriate packs of timber and also maintains an even profile of materials in the drum, ensuring that the drum does not become unbalanced.

This has enormous benefits in terms of less energy consumption, less noise, safer operating environment and increased plant throughput.

Real-time Production Scheduling

IN-TIME dynamically replans sawmills and production facilities in response to changing orders along the supply chain.

This real-time planning capability requires advanced, powerful optimization algorithms that can cope with complex scheduling problems while modelling the necessary operational rules and constraints to ensure that the system can function automatically without constant human intervention.

This enables the factory to be replanned automatically as orders and requirements change, keeping inventory levels within defined parameters while optimizing the utilisation of the production lines and employees.



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