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Flow Planner

Material Flow Analysis

Visually analyze material flow, evaluate plant layouts, and minimize material handling labor for a better layout, faster

Fork Truck Studies

  • Leverage AutoCAD labels for pick-up and delivery locations and lines that represent aisles in the plant. 

  • Use bill of material, production forecast volume, and part plan data.

  • Calculate distance, time, and cost of each incremental movement of a part. 

  • Identify material handling operators/devices that are over or underutilized. 

  • Visually identify and quantity parts whose usage and storage locations cause long travel times. 

  • Easily manipulate data and layouts to develop and evaluate multiple alternatives.

  • Evaluate the impact of material handling investments. 

Tugger Route Optimization

  • Automatically plan optimal routes based on delivery and pickup requirements (using a fast or optimal traveling salesman solver).

  • Dynamically simulate containers and parts that need to be delivered and picked up, based on multiple distribution patterns, for each tugger delivery cycle.

  • Calculate peak cart volume utilization based on container size and quantity.

  • Calculate total delivery time, including travel and cart loading/unloading times.

  • Support multiple warehouse, supermarkets, and staging locations.

  • Use engineered time standards to calculate accurate load and unload times. 

Visual Flow Diagrams

  • Spaghetti and aisle-flow diagrams display material travel patterns. 

  • Congestion diagrams highlight potential traffic interference and safety concerns. Observing how many trips are made over each path identifies areas of highest traffic, which are then displayed by different colored lines. 

Flow Study and PFEP Data Maintenance

  • Quickly regenerate flow studies based on updated PFEP data.

  • Filter PFEP data based on future production plans.

AutoCAD and Excel Integration

  • Working within AutoCAD, Flow Planner can generate material flow diagrams and calculate travel distances, time and cost. 

  • Create routing files in Excel or save existing routing data in simple text files and then open with Flow Planner. 

  • Save reports and copy/paste or export data to Excel and other common file formats.

Dock Storage Analysis

Assign thousands of parts to docks by minimizing each part's travel distance between the how to minimize a part's travel distance between receiving and the part's usage location on the line. 

Systematic Layout Planning (SLP)

  • Based on Richard Muther's Systematic Layout Planning (SLP) techniques.

  • Diagram, chart, score, and compare alternative designs using relationships between activities as the key measure of layout efficiency.

  • Generate variable width and color-coded relationship lines automatically.

  • Calculate layout scores and compare alternatives, with little data collection required. 

Easy Manipulation of Flow Models

  • Layout Alternatives

    Move drawing labels and redraw aisle lines to quickly evaluate layout changes.

  • Data Aggregation

Aggregate flow lines and output reports according to several different methods: product name, part name, parts with products, containers, From-To locations, From-To groups, and material handling methods.

  • Location groups

Group together individual locations to analyze flow between individual work cells or larger departments.

  • Queries and Filters
  • Filter diagrams by locations, location groups, and/or aggregation method to quickly and easily see the impacts of moving docks, storage locations, and work centers.

  • Select flow paths on the drawing to get a complete listing of path From and To locations, distances, costs and material handling methods

  • Processing and Load/Unload Times
  • Define material handling processes using set times or process codes from a predetermined work measurement system such as MTM or Modapts.

  • Define load/unload times by each individual route if the times differ from the established standard.

  • Aisle Path Network

Define bi-directional or one way aisles and assign different material handling devices to different aisle paths. 

  • Via Locations
  • Specify via locations, where off-line storage locations where material is sent in bulk from receiving docks, then dispatched in smaller lots to the workplace.
  • Include or ignore the use of via locations during analysis.

Outputs and Results

Outputs and Results

  • Utilization

These graphs present the percentage of travel time versus material handling device loading and unloading times. The can be aggregated and viewed by product, part, material handling device, or other method to help improve the evaluation, understanding, and communication of the plant-wide product flows for managers and line personnel throughout the organization.

  • Flow 

The simple flow path report organizes all time, distance, frequency, cost, and total information into one comprehensive report that can be viewed in a web browser and saved for future reference, or exported directly to Microsoft Excel for further analysis and manipulation. 

  • Material Handling 

These reports outline the utilization percentage, travel, load/unload times, and availability of each material handling device or type. They can also be viewed in a web browser and saved for future reference, or exported directly to Microsoft Excel for further analysis and manipulation.

  • Relationship Charts and Diagrams

Flow Planner uses relationship data to automatically generate relationship charts for Systematic Layout Planning studies. The relationship chart is an organizational tool used to identify relationships between areas in a plant. It can be used to quickly review relationships and their reasons among an entire set of plant activities. 

Flow Planner guides the user through the diagramming process. Beginning with “A” locations and working down through the priority list (via the Diagram Filter feature), users can minimize the distance between activities that need to be next to each other. By rearranging the layout as each level of need is added, users address the most important needs first and arrive at the best possible layout configuration.

Why use Flow Planner if you already use a discrete event simulation tool?
Flow Planner can be used as a precursor to a simulation study, and may eliminate the need for a simulation study. Flow Planner is purpose-built for analyzing the movement of people, equipment, and materials in warehouses, manufacturing environments, and other facilities. 

Do you struggle to perform flow studies due to missing or inaccurate data?
The PFEP database serves as a maintainable library of part routing data that can be directly used in a Flow Planner study. 

What savings have been achieved using Flow Planner?

  • Reallocation of 59 material handling personnel, which generated a potential savings of $4.3 million annually

  • Reduced overhead and changeover time to save $1 million annually.

  • Improved manpower assignments and reduced the number of fork truck operators from 11 to 7.

  • Improved drop zone assignments and reduced overall distance traveled by 3.6 million feet per year

Evaluation, Reduction, and Elimination of Excess Material Flow within Industrial Facilities
Material handling involves the movement of materials (container, parts, tooling, kanban triggers) using methods (fork trucks, people, carts). The focus of any improvement study is aimed largely at improving, or eliminating the movement of material because the materials and methods themselves may neither be conducive to change nor offer significant benefits for cost and time savings.

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Tugger Analysis Techniques
Systematically design tugger delivery routes using data that is readily available without the need for model development. 

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Proplanner provides a single system for engineers to create a plan for manufacturing. We suggest you review these solutions next:

PLM

PFEP updated driven by BOM/Engineering Change

MES

Work instructions synchronized with kit carts

APP

Activity part consumption signals parts requirements at a station

APS

Kitting pick list sequence automatically updated after units are re-sequenced

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