Material Flow Management in Industrial Engineering

Material Flow Management in Industrial Engineering

Costel Emil Cotet (University POLITEHNICA of Bucharest, Romania) and Diana Popescu (University POLITEHNICA of Bucharest, Romania)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch373
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Abstract

The first part of the article presents fundamentals of the Material Flow Theory (MFT) centered on five major topics: material flow and generic associate architecture definitions and classifications; major characteristics of discrete, continuous and hybrid material flow; mathematical and virtual modeling of material flow; material flow simulating algorithms (including a general algorithm for optimizing the associated architecture determining the flow trajectory), as well as major MFT applications in different fields. In the second part, the article focuses on the specific applications of MFT in industrial engineering material flow management (MFM). The accent is put on exploring different possibilities to increase productivity and profit in manufacturing architectures using the MFM approach based on virtual modeling and simulation. The proposed main topics of this section are: definition and characteristics of diffused and concentrated manufacturing architectures, virtual modeling of the manufacturing architecture structural elements, MFM simulation algorithms, diagnosis and optimization for manufacturing architectures in industrial engineering using MFM.
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Background: Material Flow Theory For Industrial Engineering

An analysis of the literature in the field of MFT showed that the general focus is on presenting applications/case studies in different areas and, thus, obtaining specific conclusions, while the theoretical approaches and paradigms of MTF are considered only in few studies (Xu, 2008; Steinaecker & Jürgens, 2001; Hou, Xu, & Wang 2007; Swanson, 2008).

The most comprehensive MFT description embraces the concepts of physical distribution and logistics and refers as well to the flow of macroscopic and microscopic elements (Xu, 2008). From the seven major theories under the MFT (Xu, 2008) we are interested only in material flow engineering and industry theory. In this context we define here MFT as a support theoretical system for modeling, simulating, diagnosing and behavior prognosis of material flow.

Also, for the same area of interest in industrial engineering, we define the material flow as a group of mobile entities whose trajectories are determined by a generic associated architecture. This associated generic architecture is structured as a group of physical objects interacting with the material flow by a set of constraints determining the material flow trajectories (Figure 1.).

Figure 1.

Interactions between the generic associated architecture (GAA) and the material flow trajectory

There are two kinds of interactions between the generic associated architecture (GAA) and the material flow trajectory.

  • The structural elements of the GAA set bound to the material flow trajectories.

  • The structural GAA elements determine the material flow trajectories by their movements.

More details about those interactions manufacturing architectures for industrial engineering applications are given further in this article.

Considering our approach to MFT, the classification of the material flow is based on the mobile entities nature:

  • We define discrete material flow when the mobile entities are distinct and countable.

  • We define continuous flow when the mobile entities are not distinct and not countable.

  • We define hybrid material flow when the mobile entities are distinct but not countable.

In order to clarify this classification, we could illustrate each category as follows: parts moving on a conveyor represent a discrete material flow (Figure 2.a), liquids streaming in pipes represent a continuous flow (Figure 2.b), and sand on a conveyor represents a hybrid material flow (Figure 2.c).

Figure 2.

Illustration of the material flow taxonomy

Key Terms in this Chapter

Generic Associated Architecture (GAA): GAA is structured as a group of physical objects interacting with the material flow by a set of constraints determining the material flow trajectories.

Work Points: Structural elements covering all the technological stages necessary for the part manufacturing.

Material Flow (MF): In his most comprehensive acceptation ( Xu, 2008 ) MF is based on natural, economic and social phenomenon and refers as well to the flow of macroscopic and microscopic elements. We define the material flow as a group of mobile entities whose trajectories are determined by a generic associated architecture.

Transfer Systems: Structural elements orienting and fixing the mobile entities, making as well the connection between near structural elements.

Manufacturing Architecture: We define a manufacturing architecture as a set of structural elements interacting such as to contribute at a product manufacturing. We recognize here four main structural elements (work points, transport systems, transfer systems, buffers) and two auxiliary structural elements (mobile entities and human resources) for a manufacturing architecture.

Concentrated Manufacturing Architectures: Systems based on a single work point surrounded and assisted by transport, transfer and deposit facilities.

Material Flow Theory (MFT): The most comprehensive form of MFT is reflecting the interactions in and between natural social and economic flows ( Xu, 2008 ). According with our narrow acceptance we define here MFT as a support theoretical system for modeling, simulating, diagnosing and behavior prognosis of material flow.

Transport Systems: Structural elements moving the mobile entities between the long distance situated structural elements.

Material Flow Management (MFM): In a very comprehensive view, material flow management (MFM) in industrial engineering comprises optimization techniques for procurement, usage, handling, transformation and disposal of physical mobile entities like tools and parts in manufacturing architectures (Steinaecker & Jürgens, 2001). We refer here at MFM in a restricted acceptation, as a set of simulation and optimization rules for managing the industrial projects duration and costs using a virtual manufacturing architecture model.

Diffused Manufacturing Architectures: Systems with more than two work points connected by transport & transfer systems and using deposits at local or system level.

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