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Cooperation on Project by Ekol and Bilkent University

Ekol enters into cooperation with Bilkent University for the system enhancements for the Lavanta Plant in Ankara. Efforts with the 4th grade students of the Department of Industrial Engineering aim to implement the “Project to Improve the Efficiency of Automation Systems

Attaching great importance to efficiency increase and process improvement efforts, Ekol now implements the “Project to Improve the Efficiency of Automation Systems” in cooperation with Bilkent University.

Through the project run jointly with the 4th grade students and academicians of Bilkent University, Department of Industrial Engineering, within the body of University-Industry Cooperation Center (UICC), system enhancements are sought for Ekol’s Ankara Lavanta Plant.

Located in Ankara province, Elmadağ district, Ekol Lavanta Plant; covers an area of 51,000 m2 and offers an indoors space of 43,100 m2. Having commenced full operations in year 2008, the Lavanta Plant offers free storage, bonded warehouse, value added services, order preparation, return handling, and transportation between factory and plant.

Making use of advanced technology, the Lavanta Plant is able to execute 85% of all handling processes without any human intervention, thanks to the automated storage & retrieval system (ASRS). Equipped with 5 S/R machines allowing multi-layer pallet storage, and an approximately 300 meters long conveyor, this system is capable of storing 52,800 pallets, and take in 150 pallets and retrieve 250 pallets per hour. The pick by voice system used in the order preparation process allows ergonomic and error-free execution of mixed pallet preparation processes.

The aim of the “Project to Improve the Efficiency of Automation Systems” is to make more effective use of potential storage areas, by identifying storage spaces utilization criteria and implementing changes in addressing algorithms.

Having embarked on this quest, Ekol’s “Project to Improve the Efficiency of Automation Systems” first investigated the symptoms which lead to lower capacity utilization rates on an operational basis. With reference to the data gathered through observations, an optimization model was developed on the basis of the idea of two-dimensional dynamic utilization of multi-layer stock addresses at varying depths. The model was validated through trials simulating various cases. In a parallel vein, in order to confirm the improvements in capacity utilization rates, achieved through the enhancements of the addressing algorithm, storage systems simulation was developed using Java programming language. This allowed the observation, under various criteria, of the addressing system enhanced through the addition of new rules, in contrast to the addressing system used prior to the project.

Another model developed within the framework of the project was the “Placement of Conjugate Products”. In this model to allow storage of two distinct types of products at multi-layer stock addresses within ASRS, considering them as one, heuristics were used to identify similarities between demands for each product and customer served by the warehouse. The similarities thus found were analyzed to see if a more efficient result can be achieved. Thanks to this model aiming to increase the amount of products stored, with reference to the storage space used, it was found that the storage capacity can be used more efficiently.

The project executed jointly by Bilkent University students and Ekol employees is accepted by Tübitak within the framework of Tübitak’s Industry-Focused Undergraduate Dissertation Support Project. The project will also be demonstrated to approximately 500 guests in the 12th Projects Competition and Exhibition which will be held at the Bilkent University on May 29, 2014 and compete with 30 other projects in its category. Furthermore, the applications will be made for the inclusion of the project, which sets the best example to applicable business results and university-industry cooperation thanks to students’ systematic efforts, in Tübitak’s Industry-Focused Undergraduate Graduation Projects Competition, the international industrial engineering competition organized for INFORMS, and YAEM (Operational Research and Industrial Engineering) Student Project Contests.

Students involved in the project:

Simge Erzurumlu
Hazal Damla Altındağ
Barış Kamay
Caner Oğuzkan
Kıvanç Gül
Yiğit Kasımağaoğlu
Academic Adviser: Prof. Dr. Nesim Erkip / Bilkent University, Department of Industrial Engineering