Quick-Set Facility

Quick-Set Facility Senior Design Team


U.S. Army Pine Bluff Arsenal


Alyson Barnes, Jakub Sciora, Valerie VanDerveer

Project Description

The U.S. Army Pine Bluff Arsenal (PBA), based in Arkansas, has a small textile facility that makes patient protective wraps (PPWs), IFS socks, and masks. The main focus of our project was to increase throughput of PPWs, which are fabric bags used to transport the bodies of injured soldiers during combat, since manufacturing them is a complicated process and PBA currently makes 12-15 units per week. Along with increasing throughput, we were tasked with automating the inventory system to decrease the time it takes to complete and to improve the ergonomics of their manufacturing and inspection process.

Simio simulation software was used to model Pine Bluff’s current facility layout since we were unable to travel to the site. The manufacturing facility was modeled based on numbers collected during a previous time study conducted by PBA and the resulting simulation made 11 PPWs. After the first simulation, new layouts were simulated to determine if moving machines or making a U-shaped layout would increase throughput by decreasing the time required to travel between machines. After receipt of the original documentation on PBA’s PPW layout, some changes were made internally by PBA including rearranging, removing, and adding machines. At this point, the focus of the project shifted towards accurately simulating this new layout in order to evaluate the impact of the changes on throughput compared to the previous layout and determine ways to further improve the layout. From simulation and survey feedback from current machine operators, it was determined that the final iteration of the updated process should be focused around adding inspections throughout the process to maintain product quality, but lessen the time required for end product inspection and repairs.

 PBA currently makes complete inventory counts by hand once every two weeks for all supplies. A new system was created using a wireless barcode scanner to identify raw material and a backend tracking software using Microsoft Excel Visual Basic Application (VBA) coding. The final result combines the portability of a hand scanner with a digital user interface to reliably monitor the supply of raw material located in their inventory. Users can update multiple materials simultaneously, utilize error-proofing methods, and save time in the inventory count.

 A major takeaway from this project was understanding the importance of clear communication with the team and sponsor to interpret the manufacturing process without seeing it in person.