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  • By T. Manikandan
  • In Blog
  • Posted 10/04/2014

T. Manikandan of Renault-Nissan, India shares some insights and successes from projects using WITNESS from Lanner in recent years

We make decisions every day, but more often than not, we cannot be 100% confident that these decisions are likely to result in a successful outcome. Taking corrective action to reverse poor decisions is time-consuming and can be counterproductive. In my experience effective use of modelling can ensure that the best decisions, based on the right information, are made in a timely manner – maximising time spent on improvement and minimising wasted time and energy.

I work in the automotive industry in Chennai. India is the 6thlargest producer of passenger cars in the world. The area around Chennai is the largest of 3 main hubs for the auto industry in India with 35% of the business and the majority of exports. Historically Chennai was a sleepy fishing village, now it is sometimes called the “Detroit of India”. India has enjoyed a favourable economic climate that has fuelled this growth in the automotive sector, however like most of the world we are faced with challenges and must improve to stay competitive.

I was first introduced to WITNESS back in 2008. Coming from a manufacturing background the idea of a best-in-class process simulation tool (rather than product simulation) was hugely appealing. WITNESS was impressive from the outset due to it is user-friendly and efficient interface, and its ability to balance cost and problem-solving very well.

My first project using WITNESS was for an engine valve manufacturing company. The Manufacturing Team was tasked with increasing production volumes for certain machining lines. A combination of fluctuating customer demands and complicated material flow paths resulted in processing times being too high. Through applying Lean principles and our own experiences we had some insight into how to make improvements, however we struggled to quantify these proposed benefits.

WITNESS provided invaluable assistance at this stage, undertaking “before and after” analysis, incorporating parameters such as processing and NVA times, labour count and the number of machines needed. The results generated by the model validated our insights and gave us the confidence to proceed with the changes on the shop floor. The team deemed this approach to be a real success as it meant the company stood to generate significant revenue for very little outlay.

This was a key project in my career path as from there onwards I continued to specialise in Discrete Event Simulation.

Another major success in my career history was a green field project undertaken in a Powertrain Manufacturing Shop. The material-path sequence and layout were fixed, however we were keen to investigate which Material Handling System (MHS) would work best to achieve our targets within a specified timeframe. A multi-modal production line, it was hugely complex with variation in process times and by-passing of machines. WITNESS was used to model the whole scenario and enabled us to visualise utilisation levels of the MHS (including operator utilisation). With this benchmark, we ran a number of “what-if” scenarios to provide a number of options for the customer, looking at reducing and increasing the MHS processes, investment levels and layout potential. From this the team reached an optimum solution and using the recommendations generated in WITNESS, the shop floor has been modified and is now running at maximum efficiency.

During a visit to Nissan in Japan I was also fortunate to be able to attend the 2014 WITNESS User Conference in Tokyo, giving me an opportunity to hear about more about the applications of WITNESS and meet other users. Some of the details to pass me by, as the majority of the conference was in Japanese!

I hope these projects have provided a taster of what WITNESS can achieve and I look forward to sharing insights of future successes with you in my next blog!


T. Manikandan has a Masters in Manufacturing Systems and Management from Anna University, Chennai, India. He has six years’ experience in the industry, four of which have involved supporting clients across manufacturing and logistics projects using WITNESS.

Currently, he optimises production lines in Renault-Nissan, an Alliance company based in Chennai, using WITNESS.

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