Optimization and Simulation Studies of a Production System for Ventilators to Mitigate Challenges of COVID‑19 Pandemic

Chen, Shaohua | $50,000

Nova Scotia Cape Breton University 2020 NSERC Alliance COVID-19 Grant

Protocase Incorporated is a manufacturing company in Sydney, NS Canada that produces custom-made and designed electronic enclosures and sheet metal components. After the arrival of the COVID‑19 pandemic, Protocase decided to manufacture ventilators to play a role in mitigating the challenges caused by this pandemic including the shortage of vital medical equipment to save Canadians’ lives. The goal of this study is to simulate Protocase’s supply chain and conduct simulations for different production scenarios, given the uncertainties in the procurement and production systems, to estimate outputs for different production capacities. Some parts that are needed to produce a ventilator will be produced by Protocase, and some parts will be imported through their supply chain.

To consider the uncertainty associated with delay in shipments, probability distributions will be explored to define the arrival pattern of the components to the production system as well as the production time. Given that the demand for ventilators is uncertain, methods of stochastic programming and queueing theory will be used to analyse the uncertain system and mixed integer linear programming will be applied to obtain optimal solutions. Triangle fuzzy numbers will be considered to present costs given the uncertainty in components’ prices. Finally, we use various methods to solve the integer linear programming problems, such as cutting plane, Branch-and-Bound, relaxation and decomposition methods. Upon the completion of this project, Protocase will be able to make informed decisions about optimal allocation of their resources to produce different number of ventilators in a time interval given the uncertainties in their procurement process and production system. The outcome of this project not only will help Protocase play a crucial role in mitigating the challenges of a global and national pandemic, but also will enable Canada to have a global impact by becoming a potential supplier for a vital equipment which can also bring economic benefits to Canada.

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