Using Discrete-Event Simulation to Support Decision-Makers in Production System Design and Operations

Fabio K. Schramm1, Guilherme L. Silveira2, Homes Paez3, Harisson Mesa4, Carlos T. Formoso5 & Diego Echeverry6

1MSc, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Management, Federal University of Pelotas (UFPel), PhD Candidate at NORIE/UFRGS, fabioks@ufpel.edu.br, Rua Almirante Barroso, 1734, CEP: 96010-280, Pelotas/RS, Brasil, Phone: +55 53 3222 7981
2Civil Engineer Undergraduate Assistant at NORIE/UFRGS, guilherme.silveira@ufrgs.br
3MSc, Civil Engineer, Constructora NORCO, Bogotá, Colombia, ingenierianorco@cable.net.co
4Civil Engineer, Graduate Assistant, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Universidad de los Andes, ha.mesa905@uniandes.edu.co
5PhD, Associate Professor, Building Innovation Research Unit (NORIE), Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), formoso@ufrgs.br, Av. Osvaldo Aranha, 99 – 3º andar, CEP: 90035-190, Porto Alegre/RS, Brasil, Phone: +55 51 3308 3959
6PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia, dechever@uniandes.edu.co, Phone: 57-1-3324314, Fax: 3324313

Abstract

It is well known that the performance of production systems in construction is strongly affected by variability, interdependence and uncertainty. For that reason, discrete-event simulation is useful for modelling the behaviour of production systems, and understanding the combined effects of those factors. This paper describes two case studies carried out in different countries on the use of discrete-event simulation models in the decision making process concerned with production system design and operations of house-building projects. In the first study, carried out in Colombia, an operations analysis of the construction of structural walls and slabs in a multiple six-floor residential building project was undertaken. Based on the simulation model, a number of recommendations for reducing the total construction time were made, enabling the production managers of the construction company to assess different scenarios, and establish an improved construction sequence in order to reduce the share on non value-adding activities. The second case study consisted of the development of a reusable simulation model for the production system design of a Brazilian construction company that constructs low-rise house building projects. This model supported the development of a new production system design for the company, in order to change from standardized to customized production of dwellings, using a mass customization strategy. The paper emphasizes the challenges of using such models in a real environment, discussing the benefits that were achieved and the difficulties faced by those companies in adopting discrete-event simulation in their decision making processes.

Keywords

construction process simulation, production systems design, operations design

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Reference

Schramm, F.K. , Silveira, G.L. , Paez, H. , Mesa, H. , Formoso, C.T. & Echeverry, D. 2008, 'Using Discrete-Event Simulation to Support Decision-Makers in Production System Design and Operations' In:, Tzortzopoulos, P. & Kagioglou, M., 16th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. Manchester, UK, 16-18 Jul 2008. pp 131-141

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