Process Network Theory and Implementation for Technology Assessment in Manufacturing
This paper describes a theoretical framework called Process Network Theory and its implementation for evaluating the economic, technical and environmental performance of manufacturing systems. Historically, performance of manufacturing enterprises has been measured largely in monetary terms such as cash, value added and net return on investment. Achieving and maintaining a long-term competitive position in a global economy requires looking beyond monetary performance measures and financial accounting systems. It is necessary to evaluate alternative technologies in the context of their economic performance, technical performance and environmental loading. Technical performance, as defined here is the physical performance of manufacturing systems in terms of physical flows of materials, products and energy. Many companies recognize the crucial role of technical performance measures such as defect and scrap rates, yields, throughput time and resource efficiencies in retaining competitive position in the economy. They are experimenting with processes and procedures that stress quality control (TQC), reduce throughput time (JIT), improve process efficiencies, and others. Process network theory provides the ability to determine the technical and economic performance of manufacturing systems by following a two step procedure. As a first step, the physical part of the manufacturing system is represented as a network of elemental processes whose basic function is to transform the technical state of materials using physical energy and skill-specific human time. The models of the elemental processes are parameterized by a set of feasible technologies which are selected based on constraints and opportunities available for the exchange of materials and energies between the manufacturing system and its economic and natural environment. Linear graph theory is used to obtain the overall model of the manufacturing system as a function of the technologies and the network structure. The model is then used to obtain technical, economic and environmental performance as a function of the technologies involved.
KeywordsManufacturing Enterprise Throughput Time Network Diagram Energetic Resource Exchange Price
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