We would like to introduce you to Noël Krouwel, Industrial Engineer & Data Scientist at Nobleo Manufacturing, currently working with Van Wijnen.
As a new employee at Nobleo Manufacturing, I was fortunate to join an interesting project. This project aligns closely with the direction I chose in my studies as an Industrial Engineering & Management: improving business processes and decisions using advanced analysis methods such as data analysis and AI. I completed my master’s degree in Operations Management & Logistics at Eindhoven University of Technology at the end of last year, marking the completion of my student years. I have been with Nobleo for about 5 months now, working as an Industrial Engineer & Data Scientist. With fresh knowledge from university, I was able to immediately contribute to a project for Van Wijnen, a construction company involved in area and project development, renovation and transformation, housing construction, and real estate management. We are building a tool with the project team to help Van Wijnen determine an efficient production sequence to improve their throughput.
About Van Wijnen
Under pressure from the housing shortage, scarcity of resources and labour, rising construction costs, and the importance of circularity and energy-neutral building, Van Wijnen, with its housing solution called Fijn Wonen, has decided to establish a housing factory. In this factory, they can build homes in a cleaner, faster, and more cost-effective manner, contributing sustainably to resolving the housing shortage in the Netherlands. Large tables (~14×4 meters) move through the factory hall, passing workstations where each station adds something to the table (often done by robots). At the end of the factory, a complete element (such as a wall, facade, or floor) is taken off the table and placed in a drying room. On the construction site, these elements only need to be assembled to form a home.
Due to the high degree of product variation, automation, and complexity of the factory, it is challenging to determine which production orders should start at what time to ensure efficient flow. Nobleo Manufacturing has been called upon to assist with this challenge. With the project team, we aim to thoroughly map and analyse the behaviour of the factory in order to digitally replicate it. This simulation allows us to quickly test numerous possible solutions without disrupting the production environment. Additionally, while the factory is still in the start-up phase, we can analyse areas for improvement in throughput and identify which parts of the factory may need to be controlled or set up differently. The goal is to deliver a practical tool that Van Wijnen can use on a daily or weekly basis to determine an efficient production sequence. It can also provide new insights into various KPIs of their new factory.
Replicating the behaviour of the factory in detail is an interesting challenge. This brand-new factory is still in the start-up phase, so new questions arise daily. Some issues require in-depth knowledge of the Manufacturing Execution System (MES) and/or the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). These systems help companies streamline their processes and monitor productivity and performance. This highlights the need for modularity and flexibility in the development of the tool. With the project team, we seek answers by sitting alongside the client and asking the right questions. This project is a valuable learning experience for both Nobleo Manufacturing and myself. The prefabricated homes from the factory will have their debut in the Buurtschap te Veld construction project in Eindhoven. It is exciting to indirectly contribute to the development of your living, studying, and working environment in this way.