Chrysler increases revenue by $1m a day without increasing costs using SIMUL8 simulation software

Manufacturing line balancing case study

Leading automotive manufacturer Chrysler increased revenue by $1,000,000 a day at its Brampton plant without increasing costs and met increased demand for their new car models.

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Headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan, The Fiat Chrysler Group operates 33 manufacturing facilities in four countries and employs more than 52,000 people.

The Brampton Assembly plant builds the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger with an annual output of 200,000 units.

Due to the release of the new models an increase in demand was expected and the Brampton Assembly plant was asked to increase its daily rate from 930 to 969 units to ensure that the demand could be met.

Steve Lin, a member of Chrysler’s simulation team, utilized SIMUL8 to study the line speed at Trim Chassis Final (TCF) and determine what changes could be made to increase the number of units produced each day.

Using SIMUL8, Chrysler achieved:

Chrysler manufacturing SIMUL8 results 1

Increased revenue by $1m per day without increasing costs

Chrysler manufacturing SIMUL8 results 2

Increased manufacturing throughput by 39 units per day

Chrysler manufacturing SIMUL8 results 3

Met increased customer demand for new range of car models

How did Chrysler use simulation to increase throughput?

Chrysler's simulation team used a base simulation of their Brampton assembly plant to understand the impact of changing line speeds. With each manufacturing plant having its own base simulation, changes can be easily made to any aspect of the simulation, depending on the area or process improvement the team are aiming to optimize.

The first thing that Steve and his team looked at in this project was low performing machines. Using SIMUL8, it was quickly identified that two stations were causing a production bottleneck. As these were automatic machines, with no staff working at them, the team were able to use the simulation to look at what would happen if cycle times at these machines were decreased.

The simulation model enabled the team to rank all the manufacturing lines based on their performance and easily identify the poorest performing lines to then optimize and remove costly bottlenecks. After the first trial, these lines were ranked again and any new bottlenecks were identified. Further trials were then conducted to speed up the new bottleneck lines until the target has been reached.

The chart below shows that the Door Line, Sanyo Loop, Foam Booth and D3 processes were identified as bottlenecks because they had the least block and starve time.

Chrysler manufacturing bottleneck chart

Using SIMUL8, Chrysler were able to utilize real data in the simulation. This data had been collected from the factory floor using their Factory Information system which collects the data from PLC, a real-time recording system which records line speed, cycle time, MTTR and MTBF.

The simulation ran over a one month cycle and used existing data imported from Excel so that the results would be as accurate as possible. This also allowed for the simulation to be validated through comparing SIMUL8's results to actual throughput numbers and identify if decreasing the cycle times at these stations would improve throughput.

SIMUL8 is fast and easy to learn.

It’s quick to do a study which makes it an ideal tool for getting the results we need to make fast but thorough decisions.

Steve Lin, Throughput and Simulation Specialist, Chrysler

Simulation insight increased revenue by $1 million per day

Chrysler's simulation team were able to identify two machines that could have their cycle times decreased to make the line run faster to meet the increased throughput schedule of 969 units.

Meeting the increased throughput target and producing 39 extra units per day, the plant was able to increase revenue by $1,000,000 per day. Furthermore, SIMUL8's results showed that speeding up these lines would not have any effect on the overall process, with results of the lines getting better with increased throughput.

The management team at Chrysler were able to use this simulation to help make decisions about how to improve TCF in order to meet the desired throughput. As the simulation used by Steve and his team was created from a base simulation, this could also be utilized to help make future decisions and drive further process improvements at the Brampton plant.

Chrysler’s simulation team continue to use SIMUL8 across the organization to help make effective business decisions. SIMUL8 is used for projects ranging from pre-launch studies of new plants and lines, to how to make existing lines work more efficiently. Steve Lin and his team are also now supporting their tier 1 and tier 2 OEM suppliers to improve their processes with simulation.

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