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Systems in Focus: Manufacturing

The modern assembly line is one of the greatest and now most common manufacturing process concepts in history. It was created to save time and money, and to increase the overall quality of the output. By mechanically moving parts in a line through a factory to different work stations, a product can systematically be built up piece by piece, while decreasing time spent moving parts. This process was perfected and used most famously by Henry Ford in the 1920s.

In this simple example, we have modeled the basics of a bottling plant. Before we can model the process however, we need to consider the supplies required to create the final product, in this case, water. A bottling plant requires a constant supply of purified water. It is usually run through three sets of filters that remove smaller and smaller particles before being sterilized.

Systems in Focus: Manufacturing model

Systems in Focus: Manufacturing Model

The bottling side starts with bottles that have either been shipped in (glass) or are blown into the proper shape from small stubs of plastic. Glass bottles are placed on a disk-shaped hopper while plastic bottles are often dumped into an open box hopper. The hopper feeds a machine known as an unscrambler, which puts the bottles onto a conveyor belt in single file. From there, the bottles are quickly rinsed to ensure cleanliness, filled with water, and capped.

The bottles are then inspected for stray particles inside and some bottles are rejected. Since filling made the bottles wet, they are blown dry before labels are affixed to them. At this point, any labels that need to be printed onto the bottle are added. Finally, bottles are grouped and packed into containers. In the case of water, the package gets shrink-wrapped. The package of water is now ready to ship!

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