How does Chrysler use SIMUL8?

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Corinne

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The Chrysler simulation team have been using SIMUL8 for many years to improve throughput, increase revenue and reduce costs. Steve Lin is a member of the throughput and simulation team at Chrysler. I caught up with him to find out a bit more about his role and the type of projects that he works on.

 

How long have you been at Chrysler?

I’ve been at Chrysler 14 years, originally I was part of the throughput team, and then I joined the simulation team and I began using SIMUL8.

How long have you been using SIMUL8?

I’ve been using SIMUL8 for about 5 years so far, it was the first simulation software I ever used.

Why did you choose SIMUL8?

SIMUL8 is quick and easy to learn and it’s quick to do a study which makes it a good tool for getting results fast.

Tell me a little bit about the throughput and simulation team

There are 5 or 6 of us in the simulation team, so we work on lots of projects at the same time. On average I would say we have one main project a month, but it really depends, sometimes we have multiple requests for projects, so can be working on more than one.

All the plants know there’s a simulation team here and they can choose to send us a request. Sometimes they don’t know if they need a simulation project, sometimes it may just need to be some analysis using another method such as a spreadsheet, but we receive the requests and make a judgment. Ultimately they just need the results, so we can decide how best to provide those to them.

How long does an average project take to do?

The projects are usually quite quick. We have a lot of base simulations created for various plants and processes, which means we usually just have to make a few small changes to focus on the right inputs for the problem we’re trying to solve. The last simulation took about one week for me to create.

Do you tend to do that a lot with your simulations – have baseline simulations you can adapt to the requirements of the requesters?

Yes – you can update some inputs such as line speeds and downtime, as those numbers change month by month, but overall the assembly lines stay there for many years with no big changes, this means that creating baseline simulations that can be reused is a good way to get results quickly. SIMUL8 also lets us import our own real life data, which means that we can run the simulations, as though they are a normal month in the plant.

Does Chrysler have any criteria around what should be simulated?

All the plants know there’s a simulation team here, and they can choose to send us a request. Purchasing will also regularly send us requests if there has been a request for investment, as it means we can check if the investment is needed, or there are other ways that we can improve the process.

So does that mean all the plants rely on your team to make decisions?

Yes, sometimes we’re really busy!

What do your managers and stakeholders think?

They really appreciate what we’ve done. Simulation is really important, but sometimes in the past they’ve felt it’s too slow. That’s why we have to do more analysis through these quick studies, as for some projects it’s not necessary to have all the details. Our management knows that and that’s why we focus on these quick simulations for results, SIMUL8 is a great tool for this!

What has kept the need for simulation and the team together?
We are under the manufacturing engineering department and the team is used for 2 different types of projects. Pre-launch studies, so when there are new plants or new lines being introduced, and for post, so when the line or the plant already exists, but it’s not meeting its targets, so we need to do some studies to see how to improve it.

So what’s next for the team?

We’ll continue to work on projects internally as requests come in, but as the US auto industry is growing so fast, that a lot of suppliers can’t keep up with the increased demand, so our simulation projects are expanding to help some of our suppliers, so not just within Chrysler, but outside Chrysler too.

Is it important to have that efficient process with the suppliers?

Yes definitely because it helps make the whole process more efficient. The suppliers will often be concerned that they can’t keep up with increased demand and will ask Chrysler for investment, but now they can send a request to us for a simulation study.  We have been doing this analysis for quite a while now with suppliers.

 

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