Behlen Streamlines its Production Facility Virtually with Factory Simulation Engineer

Behlen Mfg. Co., a world-leading metal manufacturer with over 1,100 employees, was founded in 1936 in a garage in Columbus, Nebraska. Three of Behlen’s diverse business units operate out of its fabrication, production, and assembly facility in Columbus. These include Behlen Country, the leading U.S. manufacturer of livestock equipment; Behlen Building Systems, a manufacturer of quality metal building systems; and the International and Diversified Products business unit, which consists of Behlen Grain Systems, Behlen Joiners (hydraulic presses), and Behlen Custom Fabrication.

Due to over 80 years of operations at the massive Columbus factory, the multiple business units have overlapping production lines and processes, resulting in a stockpile of old, new, and custom-made equipment—some still used and some not; various materials; and a variety of furniture, cabinetry, and storage racks. Over the years, each business unit has taken up any available space, contributing to bottlenecks that impede factory flow.

“Our plant layout has become something of a hodgepodge with certain jobs moving back and forth from one end of the building to the other when they could have benefitted from better flow within the factory plant layout,” explains Process Engineer James Kucera. “The ultimate goal is to configure the plant in order to produce better products at lower costs.”

Enhancing Operational Effectiveness

After an intensive search, Behlen invested in the cloud-based Factory Simulation Engineer, part of the 3DEXPERIENCE® Works Manufacturing solutions portfolio. Factory Simulation gives Behlen the ability to analyze multiple production scenarios within 2D, 3D, or point cloud environments, and it delivers a 3D visualization of the facility to diagnose problem areas to improve performance.

Behlen scanned its entire 900,000-square-foot factory in a week, producing over three billion cloud data points from which a virtual model was created. The data is broken down into 6′x8′ grid sections that model everything in the plant, from conveyors to trash cans. Factory Simulation Engineer provides data granularity down to 1/16″ for every item so it’s easy to visualize the exact impact of potential configuration changes.

Behlen has laid the foundation for coordinating many lean manufacturing approaches of smart factories with the help of Factory Simulation Engineer. Behlen will use the solution to evaluate material, process, and other workflows to improve standardization, efficiency, and collaboration of business and engineering groups across the factory.

Making Collaboration Easier

With the cloud-based product, Behlen’s three business units can collaborate more frequently and effectively regarding space and equipment to improve the efficiency of their individual operations and uncover potential collaborative business opportunities that will contribute to Behlen’s overall success.

“We now have the capability to show the business units where there is commonality across their machines, equipment, and processes and to visualize how individual moves—like bringing in new equipment or tearing out something old—will affect not just their individual operations but overall factory flow,” Kucera concludes.

“This is critically important for driving lean principles as well as making sure that a re-configuration makes sense. For instance, one move may result in 20 related moves. With Factory Simulation Engineer, we can visualize all related moves and make better decisions and avoid situations where we need to re-configure two or three times because something was missed.”

If you’d like more information about how to optimize your factory floor layout to improve operational effectiveness, contact your local reseller or click below to learn more about how you can start your smart manufacturing journey today.

Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp. offers complete 3D software tools that let you create, simulate, publish, and manage your data. SolidWorks products are easy to learn and use, and work together to help you design products better, faster, and more cost-effectively. The SolidWorks focus on ease-of-use allows more engineers, designers and other technology professionals than ever before to take advantage of 3D in bringing their designs to life.