Develop competitive production systems by including sustainability at conceptual modeling

University essay from Mälardalens högskola/Akademin för innovation, design och teknik

Abstract: In today’s market, sustainability has become an important competitive priority, affecting the way manufacturing companies need to develop their production systems. Increased external pressure from stakeholders, customers, law and regulations, as well as the undeniable consequences of the environmental crisis, causes a need for more sustainable production patterns. This affects manufacturing companies, since the social and environmental dimension of sustainability no longer can be ignored if companies want to retain their competitive position. Therefore, this thesis proposes a conceptual modeling framework that includes both sustainability and operational goals, with purpose to support manufacturers who want to develop sustainable production systems with the help of discrete event simulation. Empirical evidence from Swedish automotive industry indicates an unlocked potential in applying this framework to a discrete event simulation project, and findings in current research shows that alignment of sustainability and operational goals during production system development can help manufacturing companies achieve increased competitive advantage. However, there is two limitations to current knowledge; firstly, on how to align sustainability and operation goals in the early phases of a discrete event simulation project, namely at conceptual modeling; secondly, a lack of focus on conceptual modeling in discrete event simulation. In order to examine how to address this gap, a case study was conducted within the Swedish automotive industry, along with a literature study. As guidance in this work, four research questions were formulated and answered: RQ 1:    Why is the alignment between sustainability and operational goals important in development of production systems? RQ 2:    What sustainability goals may be included in a conceptual model in development of production systems? RQ 3:    What operational goals may be included in a conceptual model in development of production systems? RQ 4:    How can operational and sustainability goals be aligned in a conceptual model in development of production systems? As for the environmental dimension of sustainability, the goals that could be included at conceptual modeling are: pollution; emissions; and resource consumption. The most commonly involved operational goals at conceptual modeling are: quality and design; throughput; production layout and flow; automation levels; production volume; cycle times; lead times and change-over times; material handling; buildings and plant properties; storage and stock; capacity; price and costs.

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