Bicycle Manufacturing Case Study

A study of the throughput of a bicycle factory using Flexsim Simulation Software


An engineering company needed to improve the throughput and lower the cost of manufacturing bicycles. The manufacturing process involved many resources, both human and machine.

Issues to Solve

A finished product in this system consists of multiple parts each manufactured by different machines. Also, many operators are required to transport parts, set up machines, inspect the process, and repair the machines.

This bicycle manufacturing company needed to solve the classic manufacturing and logistics problem of making sure enough parts arrive at the right place at the right time to produce the maximum number of bicycles. The entire system can produce finished bicycles only as fast as the slowest machine (i.e., the bottleneck). However, too many parts produced can cause inefficiencies also. Surplus parts require storage (thus increasing costs) and cause the machines to work in a sub-optimal manner.
The number of operators was also an area of concern. Too few operators meant finished parts accumulated or broken down machines were not repaired. But, too many operators created inefficiencies and increased costs.

Simulation Approach

A model was built Flexsim to simulate the bicycle manufacturing process. The model was built to easily change the number of machines and operators. A custom dialog window was created for adding machine set up times, processing times, mean time between failures (MTBF), mean time to repair (MTTR), conveyor speeds, and other variables. This simple input format allowed the user of the model to easily change variables and run the model to quickly test scenarios. Statistics from the model, such as operator and machine utilization rates and wait times for parts, were recorded and exported to Excel. The user was then able to use either Flexsim or Excel to analyze the data and generate graphs and tables.


The engineering company used the model to understand and demonstrate the intricacies of the system. Data collected from the model showed the importance of certain aspects of the bicycle factory system that were otherwise disregarded. The 3d animation helped the company visualize the entire process and recognize where improvements could be made.

Model and case study completed by Phil Bobo. Phil is a simulation engineer with Flexsim Software Products and can be reached at [email protected] or 801-224-6914.

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