Businesses are constantly looking for opportunities to increase their revenue, and manufacturing companies are no exception. Efforts to increase production often require expansions of facilities to accommodate more staff, as well as modernizations and expansions of manufacturing equipment. As production increases, so will the number of trucks required to transport the necessary raw materials and the growing volume of manufactured goods. Trucking congestion is an inevitable symptom of this growth — unless you can get ahead of this challenge.
All trucks that enter and exit a manufacturing facility stop at a guardhouse for inspection and identification of the docking station for loading and unloading. Inbound at the guardhouse addresses trucks coming into the facility and directs them to the appropriate docks. The outbound line checks the backs of the trucks to confirm that the latches are secure and locked — critical for avoiding safety issues — and checks the trucks out of the facility. The inbound process can take 15 minutes or more as queues increase during peak hours. And when an organization expands year after year, it becomes difficult to manage long lines and avoid delays in processing and delivering goods.
To help manage these issues, manufacturing companies can benefit from the use of traffic simulation tools that are typically used in the development of roadway networks and corridors. Collected data — such as number and rate of truck arrivals, along with how long it takes to process inbound and outbound trucks — can be helpful in developing a traffic flow model for managing truck queues, enhancing safety and analyzing alternatives. As the number of trucks entering the plant increases month after month, traffic modeling can help facility management get a clear picture of how much traffic the facility can accommodate. Additionally, modeling can help identify the appropriate time to increase the number of lanes or implement other countermeasures at the guardhouse to manage traffic.
This kind of computer-based simulation can provide a realistic image of every function of the facility — from production, loading and unloading to the time spent by each truck at the guardhouse. This information gives management more confidence in the decision-making process as they look for ways to improve efficiency at the lowest possible cost. It also allows manufacturing companies to analyze processes in a simulated environment without affecting the day-to-day operations of the facility and reduces the time and cost associated with physical testing.
Manufacturing plants can adapt traffic simulation tools to safely test and analyze a wide range of scenarios, from simple changes to complete restructuring. This creative use of technology can ultimately help organizations spend their investment dollars wisely to meet their production and delivery goals.
Innovative traffic design solutions often combine technology with industry knowledge and the ability to anticipate projected growth.