Combine and Separate Items
In this video, we’re going to model the following scenario: several types of items need to be packed together, processed, and then separated after processing.
We’ll begin by creating our model in FlexSim. We will need two sources, which will produce our two types of items; a combiner object, which will pack our items together; a processor object, which will process the packed items; a separator object, which will separate the pack into its individual components; and two sinks, which will allow our items to leave the system. We’ll also add two conveyors between the separator and the sinks, allowing us to visualize our items being unpacked and then leaving the system.
The last step is to connect our objects. Objects can be connected in one of two ways: by clicking the Connect Objects button on the toolbar, left-clicking with the mouse to connect the objects, and then pressing the Escape key to leave connection mode; or by holding the “A” key and left-clicking to connect. Using your preferred method, start with the combiner and connect each object to the next one to create a downstream product flow that ends with the separator connecting to both conveyors, which each connect to their own sink. The order that objects are connected is important in FlexSim, so be sure that the topmost source and conveyor are connected before the bottommost source and conveyor. You can review the connection order by observing the small red arrows on each object; the topmost arrow shows the first connection, and additional connections will appear in descending order.
Now that our model is ready, we need to adjust a few parameters to replicate the conditions we’re discussing. Sources produce box shaped items by default, so let’s adjust the topmost source to produce a different item class. Double-click on the source to open its properties window and use the FlowItem Class drop-down menu to select Pallet from the list of options. This source will now be producing pallets.
Next, let’s look at the combiner’s properties by double-clicking on it. Under the Combiner tab we can alter how this object behaves when it combines items. You’ll notice that by default only items from input port 2 appear on the Components List. That’s because items from input port 1, which is the first object connected to the combiner, are the containers that other items are packed into. By choosing to connect the topmost source to the combiner first, we ensure that our boxes are being packed onto a pallet, and not vice versa. While we’re here, let’s change the Target Quantity to “4,” meaning we will need 4 boxes to pack our items together.
Before we run the model, let’s add a random color to each incoming box to make them a little easier to view. Double-click on the Source that will be creating boxes, and click on the Triggers tab. We want the boxes to be colored as soon as they are created, so click the green plus sign to add On Creation trigger logic. Click the green plus sign on the On Creation trigger to bring up a list of behaviors for when the On Creation trigger fires. Mouse over the Visual section and choose Set Object Color; you have many color options to choose from, but in this case we’ll use the default to produce a random color each time. Click OK to close the window.
Now let’s click Reset and Run the model. Pallets will enter the system from the topmost source while boxes enter the system from the other source. Once one pallet and 4 boxes enter the combiner, they are packed together and sent to the next object for processing. Once they have been processed, the packed items travel to the separator to be unpacked and then to leave the system through the sinks. By default, the pallets exit through the first object connected to the separator, so they will head to the topmost sink, while the boxes head to the other.
Thank you for watching. For more information on FlexSim products or to view more tips and tricks for successful modeling, visit www.flexsim.com.