Towards a Pearl Chain
Where logistics meets data, interesting questions arise. In our Data2Move Research Stories, you’ll find out how students have answered them. This time: Luc Vliegen’s research on the Pearl Chain method at a truck manufacturing company.
The Pearl Chain principle aims for a stable order sequence in production planning. This implies that the chain of actions to produce the end-product is fully predefined and no deviations are allowed. What are the potential efficiency gains and cost reductions of implementing the Pearl Chain in the context of truck manufacturing?
Where it started
Because the steps in manufacturing a truck can be done in a fixed order, the truck manufacturing industry is an ideal setting for implementing the Pearl Chain. On the other hand, the manufacturer exclusively produces customized trucks, which might complicate the implementation of the Pearl Chain method. Consequently, the manufacturer asked Luc Vliegen to analyze the potential benefits of integrating this method into their company.
As such, Luc Vliegen’s goal was to determine how to design a Pearl Chain model for the truck company and to identify opportunities and challenges.
Vliegen used manufacturing data from the assembly factory to simulate and visualize the current production order sequence. Using this simulation, he was able to run multiple Pearl Chain sequences to see what the possible benefits would be of using such a model.
He quickly found that the model would lead to significant reductions in inventory. Moreover, he determined that the handling costs would drop substantially due to a rise in efficiency.
Despite these positive implications, Vliegen also notes that implementing the Pearl Chain would come with many challenges, such as the need for continuous supply of components and the prevention of rework.
Conclusion and next steps
Summarizing his research, Vliegen ends with a wary note:
“A stable Pearl Chain will take years to achieve.”
Nevertheless, he notes that adequate expertise and effort could overcome the challenges of implementing a Pearl Chain model. Moreover, he highlights that further research could lead to more valuable insights and improvements that come with this subject.