Title: Capacity analysis of a towline conveyor system in a distribution center

Authors: Xinyan Pan, Fong-Yuen Ding, Robert Ford

Addresses: Steelscape Inc., 222 Kalama River Road, Kalama, WA 98625, USA. ' Department of Industrial and Information Engineering, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee 37996, USA. ' Department of Industrial and Information Engineering, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee 37996, USA

Abstract: In a materials flow system, it is important to know the system loading capacity and identify bottleneck links in a short-or long-term planning horizon; and it is beneficial to optimise workforce allocation in order to achieve the best possible system performance under static or dynamic conditions. A multi-commodity maximum network flow model is developed in this paper to determine the flow capacity in a towline conveyor system and to optimise workforce allocation in the system. The proposed modelling approach in this paper uses three types of nodes and two types of arcs to address various types of linkages and processes within a towline conveyor network in a distribution centre. Multiple flow layers are applied to consider various flow paths and commodities. The proposed model and modelling approach can assist in capacity analysis and staffing allocation for a large-scale towline conveyor system in a distribution centre. An industrial case study is presented to illustrate the application of the modelling and analysis approach to determine the maximal flow of a towline conveyor system and identify improvement opportunities.

Keywords: materials handling; maximum network flow; towline conveyors; capacity analysis; materials flow; workforce allocation; modelling.

DOI: 10.1504/IJLSM.2008.016572

International Journal of Logistics Systems and Management, 2008 Vol.4 No.2, pp.219 - 232

Published online: 11 Jan 2008 *

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