Agent-based simulation study for improving logistic warehouse performance
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Logistic warehouses are critical nodes in a supply chain and improving their performance is a crucial issue when trying to avoid unproductive bottlenecks. Warehouse optimization involves several problems, some of which must be considered at the design stage and others during real-time operations. In this study, we performed an agent-based simulation to analyze the behavior of automatic logistic warehouses under the influence of specific factors, thereby obtaining indicators to supporting decision making during warehouse performance improvement. This study focused mainly on automatic warehouses where goods are moved by automatic guided vehicles.
Keywordssimulation logistics management optimization
The authors would like to thank Prof. Valeria Seidita for extremely useful suggestions.
Statement of contribution
In this paper, we present an agent-based simulation study that has been conducted for addressing a real case study provided by an industrial project in order to support decision-making for optimising warehouse performance. Specifically, the work deals with improving the performance of logistics warehouses where lorries carrying pallets arrive and deliver their payload. Pallets are to be unloaded and sent to a Sorting Area where goods are processed, packed in smaller parcels and forwarded toward a new destination (usually by city-sized vehicles)
The proposed approach deals with two different phases of warehouse performance optimisation (configuration and operations management) and defines guidelines for both.
The first include the definition of internal layout, of routes to be followed by AGVs, and of the optimal number of AGVs; it is intuitive that increasing the number of AGVs, their cost and routes congestion increase. Operative guidelines include strategies for the optimization of AGV missions and for optimal allocation of docking platforms to incoming lorries.
Optimising AGV missions means defining how many AGVs are devoted to unload each lorry, what paths they follow, where to store pallets that cannot be automatically processed.
Warehouse productivity in terms of Throughput.
Speedup factor defined as the ratio between the time necessary to unload the same number of pallets with 1 AGV and with n AGV.
Efficiency defined as the average utilization of the AGVs.
Unloading policies used for allocating AGVs to each lorry unloading task.
Allocation of docking platforms to incoming lorries.
In order to achieve such goals, we run more than 3000 agent-based simulations of a normal working day for a specific warehouse. Warehouse physical dimensions and number/load of incoming lorries have been taken from a real world case study. Nonetheless, obtained results may be considered general and may be seamlessly applied to other real-world situations.
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