BlueCollar: Optimizing Worker Paths on Factory Shop Floors with Visual Analytics

AbstractThe optimization of a factory's productivity regarding quality and efficiency is an important task in the manufacturing domain. To optimize the productivity, production lines are optimized to have short transportation paths and short processing times at the stations that process intermediate components or the final product. A factory's layout is a key factor in this optimization aspect. This optimization mostly comprises the machine tools' positions with respect to places where supply goods are being delivered and other tools are stationed, often neglecting the paths that workers need to take at the shop floor. This impairs a factory's productivity, as machines may need to wait for workers, who operated another machine and are still on the way due to the long distance between the machines. In this work, we present BlueCollar, a visual analytics approach that supports layout planners to explore and optimize existing factory layouts regarding the paths taken by workers. Planners can visually inspect the paths that workers need to take based on their work schedule and the factory's layout. An estimation of distribution algorithm supports them in choosing which layout elements, e.g., shared tool caches, to relocate. Its intermediate and final results are used to provide visual cues for suitable relocation areas, and to suggest new layouts automatically. We demonstrate our approach through an application scenario based on a realistic prototype layout provided by an external company.

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